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The Pointer Sisters – 1973 – The Pointer Sisters

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The fantastic debut of The Pointer Sisters – an album that’s a lot deeper than most of their crossover pop from years to come! At the time of the album’s release, the trio were a badass group of female singers on the Bay Area scene – out to redefine the role of the girl group in soul – working not only with righteous power that was a real change from modes of the 60s – but also this trans-temporal quality that had them reaching back with ease for references from decades past, which also includes a surprising amount of jazz! 

The diverse range of material on this debut includes numerous highlights, such as the band’s famous rocking/funk version of Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” several ’40s-like jazz tunes with mile-a-minute four-part harmonies such as “Pains And Tears” and “Cloudburst“, a few slinky pieces such as “Naked Foot” and “Jada“, a tribute to the songs of yesteryear entitled (appropriately) “Old Songs” an experimental scat-vocal excursion “That’s How I Feel” and a rousing bluesy/funky version of Willie Dixon’s classic “Wang Dang Doodle“, with the gals trading off lead vocals and ad-libbing up a storm. Again, awe-inspiring vocal performances abound on each and every track, and whether or not you’re into the particular musical styles covered on this album, there’s no denying the magnificent talent on display. 

A1 Yes We Can Can 6:02
A2 Cloudburst 3:12
A3 Jada 4:40
A4 River Boulevard 5:52
A5 Old Songs 4:01
B1 That’s How I Feel 7:07
B2 Sugar 2:19
B3 Pains and Tears 2:36
B4 Naked Foot 3:46
B5 Wang Dang Doodle 7:34

Review by Amy Hanson

With a big push from their Blue Thumb label, who introduced the band by way of a full-page ad in Billboard magazine, the Pointer Sisters took their eponymous debut straight to the top of the R&B charts in summer 1973 on the strengths of their penchant for mixing classic ’60s R&B with fresh forward-thinking grooves. Add the sisters’ harmonies and complex vocal moves, and there’s no doubt the group was destined for a fast rise. Produced by David Rubinson, The Pointer Sisters contained effusive covers that cradled two of the Pointers’ own compositions.

That remarkable combo, then, allowed the Allen Toussaint classic “Yes We Can Can” to rub shoulders with the original “Jada“, a boogie blues-shaded slab of jazz, and a perfect fingerprint of the eclectic style that would define the Pointers’ core. That same bent also allowed them to give equal energy to the Willie Dixon gem “Wang Dang Doodle“, a song which quickly became a live set favorite, and also to their own “Sugar“. Other high points include “River Boulevard“, a mid-tempo vocal that gives way to a light rock riot. It was easy to see exactly where the Pointer Sisters were headed.

With talent to spare and an energy that was fresh and unending, this set emerges a cohesive and joyous cabaret, allowing the quartet to do what it does best. Listening to these earliest gems, it’s no surprise, then, that the band would spend the better part of the next two decades in the charts.