Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Songs of '78: "Fire"

Last time, talking about Chic's awesome disco tune "Le Freak," I confessed that as, a not-quite-10-year-old listening to rock music on my radio in Spokane, WA, I hardly received a thorough introduction to the world of pop music. Lots of bluesy, folky, proggy, and/or just plain hard pop-rock, yes, and lots of soulful white-boy soft rock too. But the African-American side of things--the R&B and funk roots of disco? Nope, not much. Hopefully I've repaired my less than perfect launch into the world of pop in the decades sense, though I don't repent of my love for Warren Zevon, The Cars, Al Stewart, Van Halen, The Who, Jackson Browne, or the Rolling Stones for anything. Still, looking back on it all, the skewing of my 1978-radio ear is really pronounced.

Anyway, this is another song that breaks the pattern. Yes, it's a Bruce Springsteen song. And yes, by this point The Pointer Sisters had left their early years in jazz, gospel, and R&B behind, just going wherever their vocal muses carried them ("Fire" was the lead single off their album Energy, which also featured songs written by Loggins and Messina and Steely Dan). But none of that matters; the Sisters brought both torch-song heat and some wicked slow-burning fun to this tune--check out the video below, in which Ruth keeps playing the air guitar or the air keyboards while providing backing vocals--and, frankly, it's ten times more memorable of Springsteen's own rather desultory recording of the song, released nearly ten years after this gem. 40 years after the day of its release, The Pointer Sister's "Fire" still burns.

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