Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate unknown, is 1988’s Serious Slammin’ – the 14th album by American sibling R&B group, Pointer Sisters. Will this album be Seriously good, or should you Slam dunk it in the bin? Read on…
This 10 track CD opens with the laughter and hard beats of titular track Serious Slammin’. We’re straight in with some wonderful ’88 sounds that wouldn’t go a-miss on a Bobby Brown track. ‘This is serious. This is serious. This is serious slammin’‘ we’re told, as a plethora of vocal riffs and synths swirl around. I can imagine that this would have sounded fantastically ‘fresh’ in 1988. It’s certainly an energetic attention grab to open this album with – we’re off to a good start, even if the song has minimal vocals.
Shut Up And Dance is next, and this gives us a fuller song structure, and it works a treat. Again the synth stabs and beats are delightfully 80’s, but cutting through this are the vocals and they really sound fantastic, as June, Anita and Ruth get fully fleshed out vocals and harmonies to deliver amongst the ‘fresh’ 80’s sounds.
That’s followed by Moonlight Dancing, which is a wonderfully percussive track with some great vocal melodies. This allows the sisters to show off their vocal harmonies in this slower track. This really should have been a single, but sadly the recognition of this Diane Warren-penned track would go to Bette Midler who released it as a single in 1991.
Then it’s lead single He Turned Me Out and this returns us to those wonderful 80’s synth orchestra hits and thick bass. There’s even a moment where one of the sisters manages a Michael Jackson-esque ‘he he he heee‘ which was practically tucked into every 87+ track somewhere. This track was taken from a film called Action Jackson (no, me neither) and it’s a pretty catchy song once it gets going on, again reminding me somewhat of a Bobby Brown meets Ray Parker Jr track. Whilst the single did see a European release, it didn’t touch the UK charts.
Flirtatious follows that with what sounds like a machine gun round, but I’m pretty sure it’s a snare in reality. ‘Did you think I was a naughty girl?’ go the vocals, and there’s a similarity here musically and vocally to Tom Jones and Art of Noise’s flirtatious hit Kiss, also from 1988. It’s certainly a song that raises the temperature.
Next up is My Life and it’s another up-beat track, again loaded with percussion courtesy of one of music’s hardest working percussionists Paulinho Da Costa. The synths and bass help it bounce along perfectly, although the synths someones distract from the vocals. Still, the vocals and harmonies are spot on as usual, and even the ‘shoo-bop’ moment works a treat just before the echoey breakdown. This is a great track.
Turn those lights down as it’s I’m In Love. This heartfelt slow song is richly layered with saxophone, soft beats and synths, and vocal harmonies. It’s a nice warm love song, and it stood as the album’s second single. Sadly it did not chart in the UK, and appears to have only had a US and Canadian release, which is a shame as it’s a really nice song.
Pride follows that and the tempo lifts up. The hard snares and synth stabs return, and they’re flanked by some funky bass and lead guitars. The ladies aptly shine here on the vocals, as they sing seemingly with pride, and that results in a great track, and again this probably would have done well as a single.
That’s followed by Uh Uh, which whilst it’s title might be minimal, it is musically packed with more synths and beats. Here the sisters are showing off their defiant vocal harmonies in this break-up song. There’s some wonderfully funky bass here, and the vocals really shine perfectly. It’s yet another foot-tappingly catchy track.
That goes straight into the album’s closing song I Will Be There. This lowers the tempo and returns us to a mid-tempo ballad. There’s lots of jangly guitars riffing and synth pads here, but the vocals cut through with some really nice warm harmonies of reassurrance that the Pointer Sisters can be counted on. When the song finally breaks into chorus, it feels like a gear change and the song becomes fully fledged, with a wave of synths and big vocals showing off the power and range of (sorry, not sure which Pointer Sister takes this big note!).
Over all, this album is consistently very late-1980’s in the choice of instruments, and consistently strong songs.
It’s hard to pick highlights and low points in this Pointer Sisters album, as it is so sharp throughout, but snatching that title is Moonlight Dancing, Pride, I’m In Love, and I Will Be There, all of which are brilliantly performed by the sisters, and musically tight too.
The album really shines in its upbeat moments, as well as it’s slower ones too, and perhaps it’s only the titular track that feels identifiably lesser – and that’s not because it’s a weak song – far from it, as it really does burst the door open on this album, but more that it contains a less structured set of lyrics and vocals from the ladies.
It’s sad that this album and none of its singles touched the UK charts, but the album did at least get remastered and released in the UK in 2012. If you can find a copy, then give it a listen. There’s no Jump, Automatic, Dare Me etc, so you’re unlikely to know the songs (like me), but you’ll come away wondering how and why you missed it. A great listen.
- POP RESCUE 2023 REVIEW RATING: 4 / 5
- 1988 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart in the UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a Discogs.com seller.
Based on all of the Pointer Sisters albums that we have reviewed so far, we are able to calculate their average album score as: 4 / 5.