Today’s POP RESCUE from obscurity, is the 1981 eighth album Black & White by sibling trio Pointer Sisters. Is this album on point, or is it just a blunt instrument? Read on…
This 9 track LP opens with the opening beats of Sweet Lover Man, closely followed by the funky bass and guitars. June Pointer takes the lead here and she’s straight into a warm, rich set of vocals that easily harmonise with the ‘ooh’ing of her sisters’ backing vocals. This sounds like a great slice of 1981 disco-tainted pop, and June makes light work of this little pop song. A great start.
Up next it’s Someday We’ll Be Together. This one sees the tempo drop a little. Anita Pointer takes the lead vocals this time. Again the sisters’ vocal harmonies really shine. Anita’s vocals are strong and confident, and she gets plenty of space to show these off, particularly in the final verse where it really builds up to a key change.
There’s some great percussion opening Take My Heart, Take My Soul, and it soon leads us into some fast-paced guitars. Ruth Pointer takes the vocals this time, and this is quite a foot-tapping up-beat catchy song. Even 80s Obligatory Saxophone gets a pretty damn funky outing in this track. It really does end up as a song that’s hard not to want to dance or sing along to (the lyrics are in the sleeve!).
Next up is hit single Slow Hand. This is a great mid-tempo gentle track, which is apt for the song title. Anita has the vocals here, and she is joined by some gentle and simple beats and guitars, that pretty much keep out of her way. June and Ruth give some well placed harmonies in the build up to the chorus, and continue their warm vocals through it. This track gave them a #10 UK hit single – their first Top 30 UK singles chart position!
Side One closes with We’re Gonna Make It. This takes the pace up, courtesy of some frantic piano playing and beats. There’s early echoes here of their future 1983 hit Jump. Anita and June share the vocals here, and in turn both get themselves co-writer credits. This is a great little song and it keeps on building up and up, including some great little synths too.
Side Two opens with What A Surprise, another song with Anita and June taking co-writer credits. Here, Anita takes lead though, and her vocals sit perfectly against the funky bass and guitars. This is quite a catchy song – the chorus shows off the sisters’ vocals perfectly. There’s a great pace in this song and it really works well, even the mid-section’s second outing for some smooth 80s Obligatory Saxophone doesn’t let it down. A great opener for the second half.
June takes the lead for next song Got To Find Love. This is another slower mid-tempo song, and it smoothly wafts in with June’s vocals on top, although there’s a couple of times where her vocals don’t quite feel strong enough for the big notes (although the big one at the end she does with ease). There’s a really nice little guitar riff throughout though, and overall it’s a nice song.
Fall In Love Again is led by some heavier rocky guitars and piano. June has the vocals again here, and she sits well with this harder song. Disco is clearly kept on the leash at times, nestled in amongst those growling, almost menacing guitars. There’s also a great little guitar solo towards the end from guitarist Paul Jackson. June really shows off her vocal power near the end too, with some big notes. Great song!
The album closes with second and final UK single, Should I Do It. This has a distinct 50s or 60s Motown feel to it (even though it’s an original, written by country music star Layng Martine Jr), and it really works well with the sisters’ vocals. June takes the lead again, but all three siblings really make this song. Of course, there’s a load of saxophone in this song, and it really helps to add to the overall vintage feel of this song. It’s a good fun ending to this album.
Where are The Pointer Sisters now?
The Pointer Sisters continued their successful US career, and building on their new-found UK success. By 1984 they had released huge hit I’m So Excited from an album of the same name. This would be followed by hits on their 1983 Break Out album which include Jump and Automatic.
However, by 1985, their UK singles career had faltered, with their most recent UK charting single Friend’s Advice (Don’t Take It), stalling at #97 in 1990.
June also released her own solo singles and albums, but sadly died in 2006 from terminal cancer.
The Pointer Sisters continue to perform, with Ruth, Anita, but also with Ruth’s granddaughter, Sedako Pointer, who became the sixth Pointer to join the group.
Black & White was re-issued with bonus tracks in 2009, and again in 2013 with further bonus tracks.
Over all, this is a great album! About half of track Got To Find Love is the weakest point of it, but even that redeems itself towards the end.
Wonderful. You really do need to give this album a play.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1981 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #21
- POP RESCUE cost: £2.00 from Hyperion Auctions.