Group Biography (Full) Continued On
A year later, the Pointers released Priority, which consisted entirely of cover songs by high-profile rock acts. It didn't garner as much attention as its predecessor, but it again proved that the Pointer Sisters could master any musical style--and harmonize like no one else, as evidenced by standouts such as "Dreaming As One." In 1980, the group released their third Planet album, the gold-certified Special Things; it featured the song "Where Did The Time Go," dedicated to their father, Elton, who had passed away in 1979. Anita wrote the title cut and also co-penned "Could I Be Dreaming," which made it to the pop charts, but it was "He's So Shy" that became the album's biggest hit by climbing to #3 and mining gold. In 1981, the group hit it big again with Black & White, which included one of the biggest hits of the year, the Anita-led "Slow Hand." The single topped out at #2 on the Billboard charts, and its instructional lyrics geared toward men who "come and go in a heated rush" became an anthem for women across the country. Next up, "Should I Do It" climbed to #13, and the Black & White album was certified gold. In 1982, the group released So Excited; its first single, "American Music," hit #16, while the follow-up, "I'm So Excited," reached #30.
Early in 1983, June made a move on her own: she released her first solo album, entitled Baby Sister, on Planet Records. The record's first single, "Ready for Some Action," garnered some play on R&B radio, but more importantly, the record's funkier tracks perhaps laid ground for the sisters' next album as a group. Alas, the title of that record summed up exactly what the trio was about to do: Break Out. Upon its release, Stereo Review called the new album "the Pointer Sisters at their sassiest, brassiest, uptempo best." Its first single was "I Need You," a smooth R&B ballad that boasted the tender harmonies of all three sisters--but when Ruth took the lead for "Automatic," her deeper-than-deep vocals practically leapt off the vinyl, and helped the single go all the way to #5.
By now, the video music era had arrived, and with the clip for Break Out's third single, "Jump (for my Love)," the Pointer Sisters landed all over MTV, becoming one of the first black acts to be played in heavy rotation. Boosted by June's energetic vocal, "Jump" raced to #3 on the pop charts. When it came time to release a fourth single, record company executives, who were never happy with "I'm So Excited's" chart performance, decided to resurrect the track and give it another shot at the top. In its resuscitated life, the single finally hit the Top 10 and became a Pointer classic; it was added to the Break Out album over a year into its shelf life. Soon, Paramount Pictures came knocking on the doors of Planet Records, asking for permission to include Break Out's "Neutron Dance" in their upcoming film, Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy. Planet and the Pointer Sisters agreed, and "Neutron Dance," featuring Ruth's gospel-spiked shouts, rose to #6 on the pop charts as its video dominated MTV. Finally, Break Out spawned a sixth single, "Baby Come And Get It," powered by June's sexually charged, raucous vocal. The success of the album earned the sisters two Grammy Awards (Best Vocal by a Duo or Group for "Jump" and Best Vocal Arrangement for "Automatic) and two American Music Awards. Eventually, Break Out was certified triple-platinum, making it the biggest selling album of the Pointer Sisters' career.
While Anita, Ruth and June toured heavily and made countless television appearances,the group made a move to RCA Records, which released the Contact album in 1985. The set's first single, "Dare Me," hit #11 and was accompanied by another stylish video that established the Pointers as trendsetters for a whole new generation. Within three weeks of its release, Contact was certified platinum, and the group went on to win another American Music Award for Best Video Group.
In late 1986, the Pointers released their second album on RCA, Hot Together, which spawned a top 40 hit with "Goldmine." The Pointers helped promote the album in January '87 by hitting prime time with their first television network special, "Up All Night," featured Ruth, Anita and June touring Los Angeles night spots with guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Willis and The McGuire Sisters. Later that year, the Pointers went back to Beverly Hills with Eddie Murphy; this time, they contributed "Be There" to the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II. The single hit the upper half of Billboard's pop chart and helped the soundtrack album attain multi-platinum status.
In 1987, Anita became the second sister to release a solo album: Love For What It Is was preceded by the single "Overnight Success," which hit the upper half of the R&B charts. A year later, she and her sisters veered away from the glossier pop of their recent releases and debuted a harder street edge with Serious Slammin', their final album for RCA Records. Immediately, fans and critics hailed it as the strongest of the sisters' four releases for RCA. People magazine, for one, proclaimed the album a "delight" and called the Pointers "the best R&B female group of the '80s."
But despite such praise, the Pointer Sisters felt it was time for a change. They'd spent the last 10 years working with Richard Perry, their contract with RCA had run its course, and a new decade was on the horizon. Starting fresh yet again, the sisters parted ways with Perry and signed with Motown Records. As a solo artist, June signed with Columbia Records, which released her second solo album, simply titled June Pointer, in the summer of 1989.
In 1990, the Pointers released their debut on Motown, Right Rhythm, which featured a mixture of hip-hop, street sounds and their trademark harmonies. It was the first time the sisters served as executive producers; they also contributed to the writing, something they hadn't done in several years. The album's percolating first single, "Friends Advice (Don't Take It)," hit the top 40 on the R&B charts. A second release, the ballad "After You," didn't make much impact on the charts, but a remix of "Insanity" took the club world by storm and shot to the Top 5 on Billboard's dance charts.
Nineteen ninety-three marked the Pointer Sisters 20th year in the recording industry, and they helped celebrate the anniversary with a new album, entitled Only Sisters Can Do That, on SBK Records. All three sisters wrote material for the album, including the title track, which the Pointers penned together. Other stand-outs on the album included "It Ain't a Man's World," which incorporated the poetry of Maya Angelou, and "I Want Fireworks," a gospel-tinged ballad that was propelled by Anita's soulful lead vocal. Once again, fans and critics alike sang the record's praises--Entertainment Weekly, for one, called Only Sisters "catchier than En Vogue or Janet Jackson" and proclaimed it "the catchiest Sisters set since 1984's hit-packed Break Out."