Friday, April 14, 2006

Disco Delivery #15:
A tribute to June Pointer

Baby Sister front Baby Sister back

(links corrected 4/21/06)

June Pointer - Ready For Some Action (1983, Planet/RCA) | LINK TWO
June Pointer - I Will Understand (1983, Planet/RCA) | LINK TWO
June Pointer - I'm Ready For Love (1983, Planet/RCA) | LINK TWO

In lieu of June's recent passing I've been listening to my Pointer Sisters records a lot lately. I figure, since this is an mp3 blog, there is probably no better time or place than here and now to post an audio tribute to June. Instead of dwelling on some of the sad circumstances of her life, like my previous two entries probably did, I wanted to do something to celebrate her life. That said, I decided to post a few tracks from her first solo album "Baby Sister" (1983, Planet/RCA) as well as a few of her greatest moments with Pointer Sisters..

In their early recordings June was often underused by their producer David Rubinson compared to the other three sisters. By the late 70s with Bonnie going solo, the group leaving both ABC/Blue Thumb and their producer David Rubinson, that would change with their new producer Richard Perry. Perry would end up using June quite a bit, particularly on many of their uptempo tracks, namely some of their biggest hits like "Jump (For My Love)," "Dare Me," and "He's So Shy" to name a few. As well as being the Pointers' primary producer, Perry would also produce June's first solo album. The first single from "Baby Sister" was "Ready For Some Action," a song who's theme seemed to compliment the album title pretty well. The music and lyrics were both written by the great Norman Whitfield who also co-produced the song with Richard Perry. It's got a relatively synth-heavy pop sound, but with a bit of an edge to it in the lyrics and production. That edge is perhaps partly due to Norman's contribution, like those genuine(!) strings which strike me as somewhat unusual for that time, not to mention a wonderful compliment to the all the synthesizers. Also, those lyrics have that typical Whitfield-style storytelling narrative, very similar in style to some of his other songs like "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," "Law Of The Land" etc.. The song's lyrics are about a little girl rebelling against her strict parents, who are intent on sheltering their precocious young girl and making her "forget about them boys," to quote one other line: "Momma, I know about my A-B-C's, now I want to know 'bout the birds and bees.." Somehow I doubt that line would have helped Momma loosen up..

The second song, "I Will Understand," has, like the rest of the album, Richard Perry as the sole producer and adding a few things up, namely, the early '80s + Richard Perry = loud, buzzing synths everywhere! Not that that's really a bad thing, it's a great track, with a funkier edge than much of the stuff he was doing for Pointer Sisters at the time. In a way it seemed to foreshadow the direction Perry would take the sisters in the following year on their "Break Out" album..

The other track I included from the "Baby Sister" album is a cover of Martha & The Vandellas' Motown classic "I'm Ready For Love," a Holland-Dozier-Holland track given an 80s update with a great vocal by June. There was one other great track off her album that I wanted to post, called "New Love, True Love," written by June, sis Anita and Trevor Lawrence. The song also has June, Anita and Ruth on backup vocals, essentially making it a Pointer Sisters track in everything but name. Unfortunately, my rip didn't turn out so well, so it's not up here, but well worth tracking down if you like the other tracks..

Break OutDare Me

Pointer Sisters - Jump (For My Love) (12" Long Version) (1984, Planet/RCA) | LINK TWO
Pointer Sisters - Dare Me (12" Version) (1985, RCA) | LINK TWO

A couple of the Pointers' biggest hits, both of them with June giving some gutsy, sassy lead vocals. "Jump.." was originally on their smash album, "Break Out" (1984, Planet/RCA) and "Dare Me," from their successful follow up album "Contact" (1985, RCA). I'm sure many of you have probably heard a good chunk of "Dare Me" as the basis of Junior Jack's "Stupidisco," one of THE biggest international club hits of 2004. Included here are the 12" versions which are also on the CD version of their 1989 Greatest Hits set.

So Excited

Pointer Sisters - All Of You (1982, Planet/WEA) | LINK TWO

This is one great album track from their underrated "So Excited" (1982, Planet/WEA) LP. That album's sound was like the bridge between their earlier soft-rock, pop-lite material like "Slow Hand," "He's So Shy" etc.. to the more aggressive synthesized dance pop that followed. This song starts off slightly slow and sensual but picks up considerably about a quarter of the way through. Overall, it's got a great, punchy arrangement with those prominent horns and June's clear, strong vocals.


Pointer Sisters - Goldmine (12" Version) (1986, RCA) | LINK TWO

This was the lead off single from their "Hot Together" (1986, RCA) album. By this time their commercial popularity started to wane somewhat. Neither the album, nor any of it's singles did as well on the charts compared to some of their previous efforts, but it's a very strong album in my opinion and this song was a great showcase for June. This 12" version was mixed by none other than Shep Pettibone, who adds some of June's great spoken ad-libs towards the end. Overall, it's a real uplifting song with an equally joyous vocal by June. For me, this is the way I'd like to remember her.

Anyway that's it for my little tribute here.. There were others that I wanted to include, particularly from her second solo album (which I've heard, but don't have yet), but I figured that would be pushing it a little bit. Listening to these songs, it's hard to believe such a lively, powerful voice has been silenced, but I hope these bring back good memories, or at least bring some good vibes...

Update: Some other great tributes to June at A Passable Ear, Lil' Mike's and Habitat 67, who has a great link to the Pointer's "Pinball Number Count" from Sesame Street.. It's been ages since I've seen that one!






Anonymous said...

Thanks for these posts, especially the Baby Sister tracks (Impossible to find!) I too am deeply saddened by June's passing. I saw her twice in concert a few years ago and have been a lifelong fan. Rest in peace June.

Tommy said...

You're welcome, anon :-)

Unfortunately, I never got to see any of the sisters live in concert, but I really wish I had now..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mp3s I didn't have any of those. I was trying to get a track from the Pointer Sister's' "Steppin'" LP which is called "Wanting Things". This was a June Pointer ballad that was one of my favorite Pointer Sister recordings that would have special meaning with June's passing.

Paul said...

Thanks, Tommy. You're tribute is the best of all I have read. I just linked to you from my June Pointer post which pales in comparison to yours! But I was happy to honor June with one of my favorite Pointer Sisters recordings... the Pinball Number Count Song from Sesame Street.

Tommy said...

Hey Mike! "Wanting Things" was one I was thinking about putting up.. For sure one of June's best leads. Unfortunately I can't seem to find my copy of the "Steppin'" LP anymore :( My copy was a little scratched up, but I have no idea how it went missing..

Hey Paul! Thanks for the kind words :) I checked your blog earlier, thanks for putting up a link to the Pinball Number Count!! I actually remember that one from Sesame Street lol.. It's been ages since I've seen it!

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