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POP MUSIC

*** ROBBIE WILLIAMS, "The Ego Has Landed," Capitol

May 02, 1999|STEVE HOCHMAN

Dismiss Williams, if you must, as a teen-pop refugee or as a calculating climber. It's your loss. This compilation from his two U.K. albums more than makes up for his Take That past and sufficiently justifies his ambitions. Even without the sly, knowing wit of his concerts and videos, the unexpected depth and personality in such songs as "Millennium" (a humanist meditation on our fin de siecle condition) and "Let Me Entertain You" (an unabashed mission statement) stand on their own. Though his growth and range (dance-pop, rock, the Elton John-like ballad "Angels") draw reasonable comparisons to fellow ex-teeny-bopper George Michael, Williams' music is earthier and less mannered than Michael's. Even "Karma Killer," a glam-tinged poison pen letter to his former manager, spews its petulance with style. This ego flies.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from "The Ego Has Landed" and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.calendarlive.com/soundclips

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