Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. This time, the iconic Pointer Sisters with “Happiness”.
Label: Planet | Year: 1982 | Discogs: Pointer Sisters’ Greatest Hits
Music makes me happy. I find some records particularly life-affirming – see Lamont Dozier’s “Going Back To My Roots”, for example. To offer another example – as exaggerated as it might sound – I reconsider my pessimist-leaning worldview every time I hear The Pointer Sisters’ “Happiness”.
Beginning as a duo of June and Bonnie Pointer in 1969(!), the group became a trio when joined by their sister Anita and began performing backing vocals for the likes of Sylvester and Boz Scraggs. Though “Send Him Back” became a Northern Soul classic in the UK, commercial success was limited until they became a quartet with their sister Ruth Pointer, winning a ‘Best Country Vocal’ Grammy for “Fairytale“(!) before Bonnie left to pursue a solo career.
The height of their success came in the mid-1980s, scoring four consecutive Billboard top-tens with “Automatic“, “Jump (For My Love)“, “I’m So Excited” and “Neutron Dance“, used on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack (not to be confused with Krystal Klear’s 2018 banger). “Jump” and “Automatic” also won Grammys in 1985″
Surprisingly, “Dare Me” – my own introduction to the Pointer Sisters – peaked at Number 11. Even more surprisingly, the exceptional “Don’t It Drive You Crazy” was never released as a single. But most surprisingly of all, “Happiness” – in my view their best – peaked at 30 in the US and didn’t chart in the UK.
“Happiness” was written by Allen Toussaint (credits include Otis Redding, Betty Wright and Candi Staton) and produced by Richard Perry, who had also worked with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Art Garfunkel.
In 2002, Issa Pointer (Ruth’s daughter with former Temptations member Dennis Edwards) replaced June, who was sadly struggling with drug addiction. They scored another hit with a remake of The Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin’s “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” in 2005. Ruth’s granddaughter Sadako also joined the group in 2009. Anita’s health forced her to retire in 2015, leaving Ruth the last original member.
The Sisters’ music has been covered and sampled countless times, most notably Girls Aloud’s version of “Jump”, Le Tigre’s version of “I’m So Excited”, Ultra Naté’s version of “Automatic” and Junior Jack’s “Stupidisco”, drawing on “Dare Me”.
Enjoy your Sunday – I hope it brings you Happiness.
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