1975, Music

Steppin’ (1975) by The Pointer Sisters

This is the extent of my knowledge of The Pointer Sisters: I’ve heard “Jump” a million times. Sure, it’s possible I know some other hits of theirs. If I played all their Top 20 hits maybe I’d recognize a few of them, but the only one I could identify by name (and would know as The Pointer Sisters) is “Jump”. So, um, I had no idea what to expect.

This is a diverse record, so much more diverse than I could ever have imagined. They’re like the female vocal group equivalent of Earth, Wind & Fire in terms of their willingness to genre hop. That is really cool and was really unexpected. But like all genre-hopping albums it only works to the extent that the listener really likes those genres.

Though the material is almost entirely covers, it is a pretty diverse selection and mostly works. The one original, the lead-off track, really sets up the album well and really acted as a wake-up call for me as a listener. As in I didn’t know I was going to be listening to funk. And that first track is just a great song.

But where I get critical is the huge left turn into jazz. Listen, I am a big jazz fan (though not quite as big as I used to be). But the jazz the Pointer Sisters like is jazz from another era (presumably the stuff they grew up with). And it’s jarring to hear them veer so far back in the past an album that feels so contemporary otherwise. On the one hand, their diversity is admirable. On the other hand it feels like a different group, one that is decidedly living in the past. (And vocal jazz just isn’t my kind of jazz, which is another reason why I don’t love the detour.)

But the album is still pretty good – it’s remarkably diverse and even when they veer into the past they do a good job of it.


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