(3 / 5)
Legendary. Unique. Sizzlingly soulful. Sassy…. All pretty accurate descriptions of Anita, Bonnie, June and Ruth. Surname? Pointer, of course.
The Pointer Sisters are essential listing for any discerning soul fan, but their first two albums of a lengthy career, are perhaps in slightly different direction before they hit on the winning formula and their core sound.
Released here on a double-CD, along with some bonus tracks – single edits of charted singles from each LP. The set is a vivid reminder of the original quartet’s unique sound and style, prior to their global success of the ‘80s as dance and pop hitmakers.
By the time they signed to US West Coast boutique label Blue Thumb, the Oakland, California quartet of sisters – Anita, Bonnie, June and Bonnie – had begun their journey from the church (where their father was a pastor), to backup vocalists.
Working with such diverse artists such as Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood and Taj Mahal. A brief stint at Atlantic Records, where they cut a couple of singles preceded the recording of their self-titled debut, produced by David Rubinson in San Francisco.
With its mixture of swingin’ jazz pieces (‘Cloudburst’, ‘Jada’), gospel-flavoured blues (‘River Boulevard’) and covers of Koko Taylor’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ and the Lee Dorsey, Allen Toussaint-penned, ‘Yes We Can Can’ (a US top 20 pop and R&B hit), “The Pointer Sisters” became one of 1973’s best-selling gold-certified album.
It showcased the family group’s imaginative harmonies, with cover art depicting the quartet in ‘40s-styled garb.
Their second album a year later, 1974’s “That’s A Plenty”, scored another gold status, and was equally eclectic in its song selection. From the fast-and- furious ‘Salt Peanuts’ (a Dizzy Gillespie piece) to the head-boppin’ blues ‘Grinning In Your Face’; with a young Bonnie Raitt on guitar.
The bluesy torch song, ‘Black Coffee’, a revival of ‘Steam Heat’ and the Gamble & Huff co-penned R&B, ‘Love In Them There Hills’. The single ‘Fairytale’ became a US Top 20 pop and a Top 40 country hit, winning the quartet their first Grammy Award (for ‘Best Country Performance’).
Comprehensive notes by US writer Justin Kantor include 2018 quotes from Anita, Bonnie and Ruth Pointer, chronicling their arrival on the music scene. The tracks were all remastered by Nick Robbins.
By Sally Fox
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’