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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: The Pointer Sisters, "Slow Hand"

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 2:26 PM

The Singers: The Pointer Sisters began as a quartet, comprised of Bonnie, Ruth, June and Anita. Bonnie left the group in 1977, right before the remaining trio came to fame through numerous hits like “I’m So Excited,” Jump (For My Love)” and “He’s So Shy.”

The Song: Released on the 1981 album Black and White, “Slow Hand” remains a curveball in the Pointer Sisters’ catalogue. Where the group’s other hit singles popped and sparkled through synth-driven kinetic energy, “Slow Hand” simmers and slithers with a breathy sensuality. Some slow jam scholars suggest that the song is a gentle admonishment of premature ejaculation; others conjecture that it was written as an ode to Eric “Slowhand” Clapton. The world may never know for sure. Country cornball Conway Twitty had a hit with the song a year later, tweaking the song from a woman’s call of desires to a man’s dictation of needs (“you want a man with a slow hand”). Feminism would never recover.

The Video: This clip tells you all you need to know about the art of seduction. Low lights? Check. Vaseline-covered camera lens? Check? Bearskin rug? Check and mate. As the Sisters serenade you in silken, pastel-colored pajamas, the fire’s soft glow throws shadows and suggestions across the room. Wait a second – does that bearskin rug/bed rotate, or is it a camera trick? Either way, you are about to enter a zone where pants are strictly optional.

Hipster Cachet: The group’s self-titled album was released in 1973 and contained the sisters’ first big single, a cover of Allan Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” (originally a hit for Lee Dorsey in 1970, the tune became a rallying cry for post-Katrina New Orleans through multiple reinterpretations). In 1978, the Pointer Sisters reached No. 2 on the Billboard Pop charts with a version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire.”

-- Christian Schaeffer

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