Dreams really do come true sometimes. Let’s celebrate the music career of Gabrielle, who has a new single and album coming out this week
by Mark Keen
It looked liked Gabrielle was going nowhere, but dreams did come true in the end!
I remember thinking when Gabrielle (Louise Gabrielle Bobb to her friends) popped up on the scene with her huge number 1 “Dreams” in 1993 and her trademark eye patch that she would be another one hit wonder, as quick to disappear as she seemingly appeared. How wrong could I be? Some 25 years later Gabrielle is about to release a new album and is off on tour with Rick Astley around the UK in the Autumn. Come and see her with me in Hull later in the year! The eye patch has long gone, but the songs have aged well and Gabrielle’s song writing appears to be receiving the credit it deserves.
So back to “Dreams”, which hit number one for three weeks in June 1993, which no doubt was a huge relief for Gabrielle as the single had originally used the backing track for “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, and had gained some attention. Having to re-record it must have resulted in some anxious moments, but it was a huge hit. I can still remember her singing on Top of the Pops, eye patch in place and a middle eastern theme with loads of rugs, but my mind may be playing tricks! Although the album “Find Your Way” hit the top 10 and “Going Nowhere” also hit the top 10 in the UK, there was a sense that Gabrielle’s career was about to go the same way as the two subsequent singles from the album made little impact.
However, Gabrielle had much more up her sleeve and made a fantastic comeback in 1996 which really solidified her career casting off the one hit wonder tag for good! “Give Me A Little More Time” hit the top 5 and was a truly stylish comeback. I thought the song was a cover as it had such a great 60’s vibe.
Initially it looked like the same pattern of the first album would be followed with two subsequent under performing singles, “Forget About The World” and “If You Really Cared”. But East 17 were about to come along and give Gabrielle a huge boast with the massive hit duet “If You Ever”. This great cover of a huge American hit from the previous year for Shai (I’ve never hard if them either!) would be held off the top spot by the Spice Girls with “Say You’ll Be There”, but was massive nevertheless with a stylish video on a train. This even gave East 17 some much needed credibility showing off the strength if Brian Harvey’s voice.
Gabrielle was able to capitalise on this success with a follow up single which was a fantastic version of my favourite song “Walk On By” hitting the top ten in 1997. The second album was also a success and although only reaching number 11 it nevertheless outsold the first album and went platinum.
Things would go quiet for a couple of years, but again Gabrielle managed to come back bigger than ever with a clutch of great singles and a million selling album in “Rise” in 1999. Things got off to a good start with the single “Sunshine” just squeezing into the top 10. This such a great song and still sounds so fresh today and exudes positivity.
The following year saw Gabrielle enjoy one of her biggest hits with “Rise” which was an enormous number one single in the UK and a notable success in other countries such as Norway and New Zealand. The single is famous for its sample from Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, a rare authorised sample from Mr. Dylan. He must have liked it!
A couple more decent hits from the album followed notably “When A Woman”, which has a lovely Motown retro feel accompanied by a great video.
Just when we thought Gabrielle would disappear again she would come back in 2001 with a classic song from the Bridget Jones Soundtrack. “Out Of Reach” seemed to hang around for ages and still sounds as great today as it did then. The song works so well in the context of the film and really was a master stroke. These were the days when the songs from the soundtracks really made a an impact.
The success of the single had a knock on effect on the success of Gabrielle’s first greatest hits album in 2001 “Dreams Can Come True, Volume 1” which again would sell more than a million copies in the UK. The greatest hits campaign would end with what would be Gabrielle’s last top ten hit “Don’t Need The Sun To Shine”.
The rest of the Noughties would see a couple more albums with “Play To Win” in 2004 hitting the top 10 and “Always” getting as far as number 11 in 2007, although it’s fair to say Gabrielle’s profile was much lower by now. These albums resulted in one top 20 single between them with “Stay The Same” in 2004, which deserved to be a much bigger hit.
“Why” released in 2007 would be noticeable for the contribution of Paul Weller as the song was written around a sample of “Wildwood”. Whilst not a top 40 hit it’s worth checking out as are these two Noughties albums.
Disappointingly little would be heard from Gabrielle for a few years. A new album was expected on signing to Island Records, but in 2013 a further greatest hits would appear albeit with a number of new tracks. This compilation ‘now and always’ did scrape into the top 40, but did go under the radar. “Say Goodbye” was released as a single but was not a hit.
I must admit I began to wonder if perhaps we would not hear much from Gabrielle again, so it’s great to report she is back with us with a vengeance and her new songs are popping up on the radio with Radio 2 taking a particular shine to them. Her most recent single “Shine” really is a fantastic comeback and makes you realise how much we have missed Gabrielle. In another time this would easily be a number one. The album “Under My Skin” will be with us on the 17th August, so get yourselves down to your local record store and ensure Gabrielle carries on shining. Don’t forget to catch up with Gabrielle with Rick Astley and me (only in Hull!) in the Autumn!