'Give Me A Little More Time', with its big and brassy Motown influence, returned Gabrielle to the Top 20 in February 1996... It is actually her 5th UK Top 30 hit and could emulate her 1993 smashes 'Dreams' and 'Going Nowhere'.It's not spelt out exactly how it might emulate those two songs, but its eventual chart peak is roughly half-way between theirs of 1 and 9 respectively: it also seems to sit about in the middle of them in posterity, neither a well known as her debut single nor as comprehensively forgotten as its follow-up. By this point in history it was getting pretty rare for a track still to be climbing the chart as the Now album went to press, although as you'll have seen in earlier sleeve notes it wasn't uncommon for them to have to include a track that hadn't even been released by the printers' deadline. It was by 1996 standards extraordinary that the aptly-titled 'Give Me A Little More Time' had to wait for its fifth chart week to reach its highest chart placing; given that it sat at 5 for three weeks it's a reasonable bet that had it enjoyed the more concentrated sales most singles had in those days it would have been a Top 3 hit at least. The fact that it didn't is perhaps indicative of the struggle she had to re-establish herself after the unloved follow-ups to her first hit and the two year break during which she had some difficulties in her personal life. When she finally re-emerged with a new image (her lazy eye now hidden behind a fringe rather than the eyepatch) and a fresh set of songs, fashion seemed to have moved on a little and the world didn't seem as ready, so it was lucky for all concerned that she came back with such a stormer of a single.
I've said before in other contexts that the strident brassy sound suggests Stax or Atlantic to me more than Motown, but this is a bit picky of me. It's certainly in the right area and whereas most songs that are described as having a retro-soul influence merely adopt isolated elements of the production (usually the tambourines) this one has sixties soul all the way through it; even though the beat is presumably programmed it's got the right sort of ambience and feel about it to make you imagine that there are a team of crack studio musicians with rock-solid timing on there and that they're all playing together in a small room. Even the mix does its bit, with so little stereo separation you could mistake it for mono. Of course, even the most perfect pastiche is at risk of seeming pointless, but that's not a problem I ever had with this particular song, which I liked even before I'd listened closely enough to realise how faithful it was to the sound; having grown up hearing old soul music it never struck me as unusual to hear a song in this style. Although the lyric breaks no new ground, it benefits from that slightly chatty, down-to-earth tone of her best songs, and it's easy to imagine her fumbling around how to express her feelings about her friend, and how to deal with the possibility that they might be reciprocated. Even the slightly inconclusive fade on the single edit helps convey the uncertainty: I've never checked what happens in the extra minute or so of the album version, and I was determined to find a link to the correct version - irrelevant as it is to the song, I always quite liked the final shot in the video where the French kids realise there's a camera pointed at them.
Just in case you didn't believe me about Simply Red going downhill after this period, you can see a bit of his ill-advised collaboration with the Fugees in this clip of Gabrielle accepting the first ever MOBO for best single. She deserved it too.
Also appearing on: 25, 26, 33, 27 (with East 17), 36, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 58
Available on: Gabrielle