Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain is the debut 1994 eponymous album from former actress, Michelle Gayle. Is this album filled with Sweetness, or would you be Happy Just To Be Without? Read on…
Having left BBC EastEnders‘ London for Norwich (happens to the best of them), Michelle Gayle began a career in music, with this, her 15 track debut.
The album opens with Get Off My Back – a defiant set of lyrics, and not entirely dissimilar to something you’d find on Eternal‘s debut album from the previous year, aside from Michelle’s rap to her ‘homies’.
Track two is Happy Just To Be With You, complete with it’s Chic sample, but this is very different from the version that you might remember in the charts. It’s much less funk/disco, and much mellow instead. I preferred the single version – which was her fifth and final single from this album.
Next up is her first single – the fantastic Looking Up, which took her to #11 in the UK charts. This track is pretty flawless in my opinion, and the great way to debut a career. I’m surprised that it didn’t chart higher.
Following this is Girlfriend, which is pretty unmemorable, and then Freedom (the fourth single), which is quite a weak track. It got to #16 in the UK.
Personality is the 7th track, and is another mellow track. Again, this feels like something Eternal might have passed over.
I’ll Find You, the third single (and her worst performing single until 2008’s Woo (U Make Me)), is a pretty mellow track. Michelle is more than capable of singing these schmaltzy ballads, but they should never have put it here on this album. It’s followed by Your Love, which at best – is dull.
Thankfully her second single, the excellent Sweetness, is next. It reached #4 in the UK, and became what continues to be her highest charting song. It’s a great little pop jaunt, complete with ‘shoo-be-doos‘.
One Day is a refreshing change – it’s up-tempo pop, and although again, unashamedly Eternal in style, this really should have been a single. It’s catchy. Similarly Say What’s On Your Mind is another track that should have been a single, for all the same reasons.
One of Whitney Houston‘s songwriters, Narada Michael Walden, has multiple credits on this album, but neither One Day or Say What’s On Your Mind are amongst them. Whether this influenced why they never became singles, remains only speculation.
The penultimate two songs on the album, Rise Up and Baby Don’t Go should join Freedom, Girlfriend and Your Love in my recommendation of a cull.
All Night Long does at least give the album an up-tempo closing track. Once again, a lot like Eternal’s Stay and also reminiscent of her own debut Looking Up.
Where is Michelle Gayle now?
After her second album, she headed to TV presenting, and starring in reality game shows like Reborn In The USA, and Dancing On Wheels. She also attempted to represent the UK at Eurovision in 2008, but lost out in the public vote to X-Factor loser, Andy Abraham, who successfully went on to lose Eurovision – coming last. I’d like to think that Michelle would have fared much better.
She gave birth to her second child in 2011.
There are some brilliant tracks here, but those were the singles Sweentess, Happy Just To Be With You, and Looking Up.
Up against Eternal though, I think this debut album struggled to deliver something fresh. Eternal fans may have been torn between the two acts, or avoided Michelle completely.
I think that bringing it down to a 10 track album would have vastly improved it. Her next album Sensational was to fare better.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 2 / 5
- 1994 UK CHART POSITION: #30, certified Gold
- POP RESCUE COST: £1 (from a Poundland store)