The Pointer Sisters

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If the Pointer Sisters caused a puzzled ripple of amazement with the appearance of their rock & roll Planet debut, then they almost certainly broke the dam on 1979's ballsy, bluesed-out Priority. Taking rock covers to the next level and operating still under the guidance of producer Richard Perry, the group delivered another sophisticated set, yet this time barely creaked into the Top 50. Hoping to fuel the flames ignited by the success of their earlier Springsteen cover, "Fire," the Pointer Sisters made sure to take the Boss in tow on this new outing with "She's Got the Fever." Slow and smooth with vocals at the front, the song is the epitome of a late-night, low-light classic. But where things become most interesting is across covers of Ian Hunter's "Who Do You Love," Graham Parker's "Turned Up Too Late," and the Rolling Stones' "Happy." Three grimy rock & roll classics by three grungy bands seemed odd fodder for this R&B group, but not only did the Pointer Sisters hold their own on all counts, their own gospel-influenced vocal styles were surprisingly suited to the material. Elsewhere, a cover of British folkie Richard Thompson's "Don't Let a Thief Steal into Your Heart" is magnificent. The band rounds out the mix with a fabulous reevaluation of Bob Seger's "All Your Love." Priority is a remarkable, cohesive set. Unfortunately, it left many of the band's old fans a little unsure of where the Pointer Sisters were headed next, and not one song from the LP managed to crack the charts. Nevertheless, it's an interesting and vibrant sidestep in the band's development -- before the 1980s took hold and synth-popped them back to the top of the charts.

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