GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS-ALL I NEED IS TIME.
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS-ALL I NEED IS TIME.
Although Neither One of Us was Gladys Knight and the Pips final album released while they were signed to Motown, one further album was released after they’d signed to their new label, Buddah Records. This was All I Need Is Time, a hugely underrated and excellent album, that features some wonderful music. It was the result of a large team of songwriters, arrangers and producers collaborating with Gladys Knight and the Pips, on the nine songs on All I Need Is Time. Sadly, on its release, it somehow, failed to replicate the success of their three previous albums, 1971s If I Were Your Woman, and 1972s Standing Ovation and Neither One of Us.
All I Need Is Time was released just four months after Neither One of Us, in June 1973. It had been recorded during 1972 and 1973, and saw a number of producers work on the album. All of these producers had previously worked with Gladys Knight and The Pips on Neither One of Us. Helping produce the album were Johnny Bristol, Clay McMurray, Joe Porter and Hal Davis. While Johnny and Clay produced three tracks each, Joe produced two and Hal just one. Clay McMurray and Johnny Bristol contributed three songs for the album. The track that opened the album I’ll Be Here (When You Get Home), was written by Johnny with Wade Brown and David Jones Jr. Of the two songs written by Clay, he cowrote The Only Time You Love Me When You’re Losing Me with Pamela Sawyer and Martin Foster, while he wrote Here I Am Again with Patricia Foster. One of the most surprising choices on the album, was a cover of Sly and The Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettin Me Mice Elf Again). This choice raised eyebrows when it became know that Gladys Knight and The Pips had covered it. However, their funk drenched interpretation demonstrated the group’s versatility. The rest of the material on the album was perfect for Gladys, allowing her to use her full vocal range. With such strong material on the album, and critics giving the album a positive reception, everything looked good for the release of All I Need Is Time.
When All I Need Is Time was released in July 1973, Gladys Knight and The Pips were no longer contracted to Motown. They’d left for Buddah Records, where they’d release some stunning singles and albums. On its release, All I Need Is Time reached number seventy in the US Billboard 200 and number fourteen in the US R&B Charts. This must have been a disappointment, after their previous album Neither One of Us had reached number nine in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Only one single was released from the album, the title track, All I Need Is Time, which reached number sixty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number twenty-eight in the US R&B Charts. A second single Here I Am Again, was scheduled for release, but cancelled. This was the penultimate Gladys Knight and The Pips single released by Motown, with Between Her Goodbye and My Hello released in 1974. It reached number fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200 and number forty-five in the US R&B Charts. Both this single and the album All I Need Is Time, marked the end of a long relationship between Gladys Knight and The Pips and Motown. However, All I Need Is Time was a fitting end to their relationship, and it’s that album I’ll now tell you about.
All I Need Is Time I’ll Be Here (When You Get Home), co-written and produced by Johnny Bristol. It’s a slow song, which sees strings, keyboards and rhythm section combine with chiming guitars before Gladys and The Pips sing subtle harmonies. This gives way to an emotive, heartfelt vocal from Gladys, while The Pips contribute tight harmonies. A bass sits at the front of the mix, while drums provide the track’s heartbeat and lush strings and rasping horns are key to Johnny Bristol’s hugely moving arrangement. However, what makes this such a great track, is Gladys’ stunning vocal which grows in power and emotion, enveloped by swathes of strings and blazing horns. All this results in a fantastic song, one of the album’s highlights and a great way to open the album.
The title track, All I Need Is Time, was the only single released from the album, and is a lovely tender song, where a thoughtful, understated arrangement from Joe Porter combines beautifully with Gladys’ gentle, but sad and emotive vocal, to get over the failure of her relationship. Against a backdrop of the saddest sounding, lush strings, piano and chiming, shimmering guitars, The Pips sing harmonies, before Gladys vocal enters. There’s a fragility in her voice, perfect for the lyrics, while strings sweep behind her, adding to the sense of loss and heartache. Her vocal grows in power, but still there’s a sense of sadness and hurt in her voice. Meanwhile, the arrangement grows from its understated sound to a powerful peak, before quickly returning to a slow, meandering and beautiful style. What helps make this such a moving, sad but quite beautiful track is Gladys’s vocal and the use of strings throughout the track. This adds to the track’s beauty and emotion, resulting in a fantastic track.
After such a moving and beautiful track, Gladys throws a curveball, changing style completely on Heavy Makes You Happy, a track originally recorded by The Staple Singers, that combines elements of soul, funk and Latin music. It opens with a combination of rhythm section, percussion and blazing horns that drive the track along, and give it a Latin tinge, with just a pinch of funk present. After Gladys and The Pips enter, swirling strings, percussion, rasping, braying horns and the rhythm section combine to accompany them, with the interplay between Gladys and The Pips, playing an important part in this catchy track. Here, Merald, William and Edward, The Pips, help Gladys transform the track into fast and furiously funky, Latin tinged track, that’s still got the important ingredient, soul. Towards the end of the track, the band demonstrate their considerable talents, mixing genres furiously, with wah-wah guitars, and a funky rhythm section sitting comfortably beside Latin influenced percussion, and later rock guitars. By the end, you can only marvel at the melting pot of styles and influences present during what’s a furiously, fast and really catchy track.
The Only Time You Love Me When You’re Losing Me sees Gladys return to what she does so well, singing another dramatic ballad, that allows her to demonstrate her wide and vocal range. A gentle combination of keyboards and percussion, gives way to lush strings and blazing horns. With a punchy and dramatic flourish, Gladys’ powerful and frustrated vocal enters, as she sings about how the only time her lover loves her, is when he thinks she’s leaving him, and he’s losing her. As the song progresses, her voice grows in power, frustration and ever despair, while The Pips sing subtle harmonies, strings add to the emotion and drums and horns add to the drama. A dramatic and emotive arrangement combines perfectly with the anger and frustration in Gladys’ vocal, to bring the lyrics to life, so much so, that you end up sympathizing and empathizing with the character in the song’s plight.
Side one of All I Need Is Time closes with Here I Am Again, written by Clay McMurray and Patricia Foster, and produced by Clay. Straight away, the lushest of strings float in, accompanying piano, rasping horns, chiming, shivering guitars and rhythm section, before a tender, thoughtful vocal from Gladys enters. She’s accompanied by The Pips, who contribute their subtle, tight harmonies, before Gladys’ vocal grows in strength and emotion. This she does against an arrangement that’s grown in drama, with swirling strings, blazing horns and punchy drums combining. Atop this arrangement sits Gladys’ hugely powerful and equally emotive vocal, which reaches a dramatic crescendo as the track closes. Of all the tracks on side one, this one demonstrates brilliantly the power and raw emotion that Gladys Knight was capable of. After such a stunning performance, on another of the album’s highlights, it also begs the question, why didn’t Motown do more to make Gladys Knight a superstar like Diana Ross?
Side two of All I Need Is Time opens with There’s A Lesson To Be Learned. When the track begins, there’s no indication of what’s about to unfold and reveal itself. A combination of rumbling bass and dramatic strings, give way to a beautiful combination of lush strings, piano and rhythm section, before The Pips sing gentle harmonies. By the time Gladys’ vocal enters, the arrangement is a combination of a lovely sweeping sound and drama. Meanwhile, Gladys uses a mixture of power and drama as she delivers the lyrics, against a backdrop of sweeping strings and piano which combine perfectly and beautifully. This contrast and combination works well, and is a pleasant, and sometime drama laden way to open side two.
The album goes up a gear on Oh! What A Love I Have Found. It opens with an acoustic guitar and keyboards combining before strings enter and then a tender and thoughtful vocal from Gladys. Against an understated arrangement she carefully sings the lyrics, with a gentleness. Slowly, the arrangement meanders along, before The Pips enter, with backing vocalists augmenting their sound. It’s then that the arrangement and vocal grow, with the rhythm section and keyboards subtly playing, while Gladys vocal grows slightly stronger, with the backing vocalists the perfect accompaniment for her tender vocal. Although quite a different track from others on the album, this much more restrained vocal and arrangement works well, showing us a very different and very beautiful side of Gladys Knight.
From one lovely song we progress smoothly to a very different sounding track, The Singer, written by Elliot Willensky. It has a much bigger, fuller and dramatic arrangement and vocal. Here, the arrangement has an understated, subtle sound as the track opens, but quickly, this disappears, with the rhythm section, grand strings and blazing horns combining to produce an almost grandiose sounding arrangement. On top of the arrangement sits a dynamic and dramatic vocal from Gladys, which builds and builds, eventually soaring high when it reaches a series of dramatic crescendos. Although both the arrangement and vocal are an impressive combination of drama, power and emotion, I don’t think the song works. Its arrangement almost reminds me of a show tune, something you’d hear in a musical, and is slightly overblown. To me, it’s the weakest song on All I Need Is Time, and lets the album down slightly.
All I Need Is Time closes with a cover of Sly and The Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettin Me Mice Elf Again). A funk drenched combination of rhythm section, chiming, reverberating guitars and blazing horns signal the entrance of Gladys’ vocal. She handles the song well, giving it her own twist, with the help of The Pips, who play an important part in the track’s success. The interplay between Gladys and The Pips, helps the songs stay true to the original version, which features Sly Stone and a number of other vocalists. During the track, Gladys name-checks a number of other Sly and The Family Stone songs, while behind her, her band demonstrate that they’re just as capable of playing the funkiest music, as they are the smoothest soul. As the songs ends after four funk laden minutes, Gladys and The Pips have given a funk classic a new twist, one that sounds fantastically funky, but soulful. What a great way to end a great album.
Although Gladys Knight and The Pips had left Motown by the time All I Need Is Time was released and it never replicated the success of their previous album Neither One of Us, it’s an album full of some great music. Apart from The Singer, which isn’t to my taste, because of the somewhat overblown arrangement, the other eight songs demonstrate what a loss to Motown Gladys Knight and The Pips were. I’ve always felt that Gladys Knight never got the attention she deserved, and undeservedly, had to remain in the shadow of Diana Ross. Even though Gladys Knight and The Pips had nine consecutive top twenty US R&B albums, including Neither One of Us which reached number one, they never seemed to get the same star treatment they truly deserved. On signing for Buddah Records Gladys Knight and The Pips they had four number one US R&B singles, three number one US R&B albums and saw four of their albums certified gold. However, that was all still to come, and whether once Motown regretted their decision to allow Gladys to leave, is open to speculation. What I do know, is that All I Need Is Time is an excellent and underrated album, one of Gladys Knight and The Pips finest Motown albums. If you’re either a fan of Gladys Knight and The Pips or soul music, this album deserves a place in your record collection. Along with Neither One of Us, All I Need Is Time was rereleased by Universal Records on one disc, with three bonus track added. This will allow you to hear two great albums from Gladys Knight and The Pips, the woman know as The Empress of Soul. Standout Tracks: I’ll Be Here (When You Get Home), All I Need Is Time, The Only Time You Love Me When You’re Losing Me and Oh! What A Love I Have Found.
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS-ALL I NEED IS TIME.