I loved the Pointer Sisters from the get go. Their first several lps were an eclectic mix of the Andrews Sisters harmonies & swing, raunchy r’n’b, country, blues, pop & eventually, high energy dance music. The retro big band sound had been heralded by Bette Midler but the Pointers took it in a less camp direction.
I remember seeing them on Carol Burnett’s show doing Shaky Flat Blues. I have The Pointer Sisters (1973), That’s A Plenty (1974), Steppin’ (1975), Energy (1978), Break Out (1983). I loved the dense harmonies on songs like Jada, the funky energy of Wang Dang Doodle, their take on Springsteen’s Fire. As they progressed their look change too from the almost church late’s 30’s look to a take change shirts & high-heels disco look.
Rounding out the mp3 collection are The Ray Charles Singers: Songs For Latin Lovers – a great version of Desafinado – more sweet harmonies. The Manhattan Transfer: The Best of – featuring Java Jive; Swing: this is another group that mined retro 40’s, 50’s with bouncing harmonies, great orchestrations & even some ‘original work’ like the Twilight Zone & Birdland – the hits collection is excellent.
Now a deeper step back in time with some real cabaret stars. First is a great fake-live album by Marlene Dietrich: Wiedersehen mit Marlene. The audience reactions are from her actual shows but have been layered onto some studio recordings. Next is the legendary Mabel Mercer: The Art Of, which includes Little Girl Blue (later done by Janis Joplin). She has gravelly gentle voice with an unhurried jazzy take on classic songs. Jaye P. Morgan, a nightclub singer who became a TV personality (or maybe it was the other way around) with a sweet voice for songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy.
Finally the legendary Bobby Short: Live at Town Hall. He has one of those jazzy voices that is an acquired taste – urbane, slightly naughty & sophisticated. This is a fun set of show tunes, jazz standards & a nod to pop music of the time. If you want to dabble in cabaret singers Mabel Mercer is your best bet.