Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Pointers Sisters: Remastered in 2009

An investigative listen into the annals of The Pointer Sisters (Bonnie, June, Ruth, and Anita) indicate that they're one of the most versatile girl groups ever.

Whether it was jazz washed in disco or rock-soul-new-wave, The Pointer Sisters have done everything under the sun musically. Three albums from The Pointer Sisters golden transitional period have been resurrected by the reissue label Wounded Bird Records. Energy (Planet, 1978), Priority (Planet, 1979), and Black & White (Planet, 1981) are important to The Pointer Sisters tale.

After the pleasant holding pattern of Havin' a Party (Blue Thumb, 1977), and the departure of sister Bonnie for a solo career, Anita, Ruth, and June reconvened. They ditched the vintage pastiche and became rock 'n' roll glamazons. Pairing with Richard Perry (Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Diana Ross) and signing to his Planet Records imprint, all parties were ready to reinvent.

Energy, a high class, if raucous covers record hosted  their version of "Fire," originally from Bruce Springsteen. It became a Pointers staple. Slow burning and smoky, Anita's lead propelled the single to become a hit with both pop and R&B radio formats. The Allan Touissant penned "Happiness" was a synth funk burst of flirtatiousness, while "Dirty Work" leaned toward a country approach in its guitar play. With songs like these, The Pointer Sisters turned Energy into a surprise success.

Unfortunately, their second album of rock readings, Priority, didn't court commercial victory. Perry's production (he'd stay on with the Pointers through 1988) wrapped the Pointers in blues chic, the sisters, Ruth especially, sounded right at home on "Who Do You Love" a gospel gasper.

The Pointers smoothed things out with Special Things (Planet, 1980), on that long player resided "He's So Shy." Special Things was reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2007 and is currently out of print, (yours truly of course has a copy). That leads us to Black & White, which included the "Fire" styled "Slow Hand," another hit.  Additional highlights included the light lowering jam "What a Surprise" and playful dancer "Sweet Lover Man (Now)," performed coyly by the tarty June. Included as a bonus track from the sessions of Black & White, previously unreleased, is a version of "Holdin' Out For Love," a song that has seen life in the hands of Cher and Angela Bofill .

Pointers @ BBC's Russell Harty Performing "Slow Hand," Circa 1981

The release of these records is important in today's musical landscape that thrives on unoriginality. Hearing The Pointer Sisters so vivacious in 2009 is a true treat, it may serve as an example others looking to send popular music spinning on a dare again like these women did.-QH

[Editor's Note: For more information on The Pointer Sisters, visit http://thepointersisters.com/. Energy, Priority, and Black & White are available at all indie and online music retailers/outlets.-QH


S. Flemming said...

Nice nice ... you are gonna make me pull out these LPs tonight. 'Energy' and 'Special Things' are favs of mine.

Anonymous said...

The Pointer Sisters wrote "Holding Out for Love," silly rabbit.

QH said...

Actually Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, "Holdin' Out For Love" was written by Cynthia Weil & Tom Snow. Just and F.Y.I. for you. Thanks for playing.-QH