Though not quite as commercially viable as C&C Music Factory, nor as much of a dance club staple as Black Box, Deee-Lite was the third home run in a row as far as dance music going mainstream was concerned in 1990. Their hit “Groove Is In The Heart” saturated the radio and MTV airwaves and is still to this day one of the old reliables that is guaranteed to fill the floor and breathe some life into any party. Personally, I hated the fact that the song was as overplayed as “Love Shack” by The B-52’s and it took me nearly twenty years before I could bear to listen to it again in reviewing the album from whence it came, the virtually flawless World Clique.
The album title sums up the international makeup of the Deee-Lite roster: lead singer Lady Miss Kier is white, DJ Towa Towa is Asian and DJ Dmitry is Latino. There are also plenty of African-American guest musicians to be found on
World Clique, bringing with them a jazz/blues/funk influence, like the great saxophone player Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins. The number of artists and DJs that can be found in the liner note list of thank-you’s reads like a who’s who history of club culture.
Most of the tracks on this classic dance album are of the piano-house variety, with thumping beat-heavy percussion serving both as its glue and its hook. Deee-Lite was always one of those acts with limited range (as most dance acts are), which is why they only released two albums in their all-too-brief time in the spotlight. On this, their debut effort, they seem to stay safely in the same groove (the album’s title cut, “Deep Ending” and the #1 hit “Good Beat“). There are some experimental cuts that rely heavily on samples that I found more substantially satisfying, especially “What Is Love?” and “E.S.P.”
Back then, Deee-Lite seemed very much like a flash in the pan, though now World Clique sounds freer, fresher, and more buoyant than ever. Keep in mind, they were popular during the first Gulf War – something positive and upbeat being released in a time of darkness. Now that we’re engaged in TWO wars, it only seems fitting that we seek out an escapist album like this one as a way to forget all our troubles and the problems of the world. Deee-Lite’s message does sound almost like a revolutionary one: “Different cultures unifying in the age of communication.”
“Peace, love and Go-Go Boots” is the theme of this year’s Carnival in Provincetown, so you can pretty much count on hearing “Groove Is In The Heart” blasting from at least one of the floats on the parade route. What Deee-Lite demonstrates is that you don’t have to be angry or violent to lead a peaceful protest. All you need to do is make some great, timeless music for all the people of the world to dance to.
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