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Soul Express CD Review

Pointer Sisters: Hot Together CD
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RCA (1986) reissue by Big Break Records (UK, 2011)

1) My Life 2) Mercury Rising 3) Goldmine 4) All I Know Is The Way I Feel 5) Say The Word 6) Hot Together 7) Sexual Power 8) Set Me Free 9) Taste 10) Eyes Don't Lie Bonus tracks: 11) Goldmine (12" Dance Mix) 12) Mercury Rising (12" Dance Mix) 13) My Life (Dance Mix) 14) All I Know Is The Way I Feel (7" Mix) 15) Mercury Rising (7" Mix) 16) Translation (B-Side)

If you were to believe the liner notes of this CD, written by American concert producer Christian John Wikane, this 1986 album by Pointer Sisters was a huge success story and another milestone in their career. Nothing can be further from the truth, I'm afraid.

What was described as another smash hit by Wikane, Goldmine was a disappointing minor hit, and was really showing that even the pop audience was finally getting enough of producer Richard Perry's mundane attempt to turn black to white. For years, he had been trying to mould the Pointer Sisters' image from a soul group to a "colourless", synthetic pop-rock group.

To be honest, I always disliked his sound. He was using lots of synthetic arrangements with awful, fast and even 4/4 rhythm patters, ugly keyboard riffs, rocky guitar lines etc. In other words, he was using all possible filters trying to cross Pointer Sisters over to pop market. Their biggest pop successes were country-flavoured ballads like Slow Hand in 1981 - not surprisingly, selling much better on pop and adult contemporary than soul market - or synthetic pop joggers like Automatic and Jump (for My Love) in 1983-1984.

Luckily, the sounds in mid-80s started to change, from synthetic and "colourless" music back to more soulful sounds in the latter part of the 80s, when artists like Anita Baker, Stephanie Mills, Jean Carn, Shirley Jones were making major hits with real instruments, and the faceless rock-soul that Richard Perry represented, was getting so passé.

This album was the last Pointer Sisters album that ever charted. It peaked at number 39 on soul charts, and number 48 on Pop charts in the U.S. These were catastrophal numbers for the group that was selling platinum still in 1983-85. The sisters continued to record for years after that, but never reached top 100 again.

By far the best cut on this pitiful 1986 album is their mild update of the old Jerry Ragoway tune All I Know Is the Way I Feel, sung by June Pointer, trying to recapture the country-soul feel of Slow Hand. It was also released as the second single from the album - and it flopped badly, peaking at #93 on Billboard top 200.

If you want to hear Pointer Sisters at their best, listen to what they sounded on the Car Wash soundtrack together with Rose Royce. If you want to hear them at their most succesful pop-rock period, buy their 1981 album, aplty titled Black & White or their more synthetic 1983 album Break out. And if you really want to hear what they sounded while their commercial downhill started, buy this album...

-Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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