Deee-Lite: World Clique (Deluxe Edition)

Once you’ve seen Adam Buxton, Joe Cornish and Louis Theroux dance to Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” in the footage available online, it’s difficult not to think of this extraordinary video when the song is played. It demonstrates the degree to which Deee-Lite’s number one single “Groove Is In The Heart” had permeated British culture; the track seemed to be on the radio constantly, to the point of possible irritation. Seventeen years on, for those who still can’t get enough of it, four different versions of the song (the original, the Peanut Butter Radio mix, the Meeting the Minds mix and the Jelly Jam Beats mix) can be found on Cherry Red’s newly released deluxe edition of World Clique.

According to the interview with singer and Lady Miss Kier featured in the sleeve notes to this impressive re-release, Deee-Lite’s aim was to “inspire people to be individuals” by presenting their own diversity of sounds and loves, fusing different genres, tempos and production sounds. World Clique certainly contains a startling blend of different music styles: the funky urban groove of the “Deee-Lite Theme”, the funk electronica of “Who Was That?”, the jazz inflection of “Good Beat”, the house of “Deep Ending”; the Euro pop wiz of “What Is Love?”; the stomping anthem “Power of Love”.

The interview with Kier outlining the evolution of the band may correct any mistaken assumption that this was only a studio group due to the technical nature of their recorded work. In fact before obtaining a record contract, Deee-Lite achieved a strong reputation as a live act, drawing vivid, multi-racial, pan-sexual crowds a thousand strong. Emerging from 1980’s New York club culture, this was a party band, fusing elements of funk, soul and hip-hop with the sounds of the acid house movement.

Generally there is a lot packed in to each track on World Clique, but at times there is a risk of overload. The title track now seems like a misfire despite its’ admirable attitude, and “Build The Bridge” seems too sharp and shrieking, an ‘80s throwback. “Groove Is In The Heart” remains the big catch, with inspired zany production, and is indeed a dance “classic” with a colourful and hallucinogenic (official) video to match. It’s difficult not to have affection for this track.

At the time “Groove Is In The Heart” was a hit, the Gulf war broke out (not because of the song) and Kier recounts in her interview that her anti-war feelings did not go down well with the label (second album Infinity Within was more politically charged and failed to chart as high as their debut). Admirably, they also pushed the label to use a packaging idea that was better for the environment, a fold-up that became industry standard later because it did away with the excess plastic jewel case. Ultimately the record label apparently concluded Deee-Lite were too gay and black sounding to get tour support, pulling funds to finish the tour and promote further records; Kier looks back to her time in the band as one of naivety about business (and men), but an exciting time for dance, music and “philosophical expression”; the latter is clearly evidenced by the upbeat messages of positivity in “Smile On” and the brassy “Try Me On…I’m Very You”.

In terms of extra content for this deluxe edition, there is an additional track “Riding On Through!” and thirteen remixes of both singles and album tracks; the remixes are different enough from the originals to remain interesting, from extended radio versions to deep house. The titles alone give some insight to the creativity and ecstasy culture of the period: “Build The Bridge” has a “Holographic House Groove” mix; “Good Beat” has the “Pal Joey’s Shake Your Body To The Beat” mix; “What Is Love” has a “Rainbow Beard” mix and a “Holographic Goatee mix”.

Although Deee-Lite are almost now ancient history (Kier, Super DJ Dimitry and DJ Towa Tei have since continued in music as solo artists/DJs), this well executed re-issue of World Clique ensures groove can return to your heart, if indeed, it wasn’t there already.