Deee-lite – ‘World Clique: Deluxe Edition’ reviewed

❉ A comprehensive, lavishly illustrated reissue of a compelling snapshot of club life in 1990.

A hit debut single is a dangerous thing: if, on your first attempt, you totally knock it out of the park, anything that comes after is unlikely to have the same impact. And, sadly, Dee-lite’s career is an almost a textbook example of the law of diminishing returns.

An irresistible blend of funk, samples, and playful lyrics, Groove is in the Heart undoubtedly deserved its massive success; indeed, given it’s a dancefloor classic, it’s surprising to find it wasn’t a number one single across the globe. Listening to it after all these years you’re still struck that it’s still a really, really, good song, its loose construction and fusion of styles making it feel both old and new at the same time.Frankly it’s a great, era-defining record, and justly so; any DJ who doesn’t have it close to hand at all times is simply not worthy of the role.

Inevitably, therefore, it’s the standout track on ‘World Clique’ by quite some margin. This, Deee-lite’s debut album,followed Groove… in the same year, and stylistically contains an interesting mix of funk, house, and deep-house dominated tracks. Given how mixed up their debut song was, it’s unsurprising that all tracks borrow elements from these three styles, but there’s an interesting link between the dominating style on each cut and how successful the track is.

Groove… fits more obviously into the funk category, as does Who Was That and Try Me On… I’m Very You. Structurally, melodically and lyrically these tracks are probably the most successful ones to function as near-traditional pop songs. That said, at over five minutes Try Me On…does rather outstay its welcome, but the title alone is almost enough to forgive its rambling.

It’s when we cross over into the more house-dominated tracks, however, that the song-writing loses focus, the hooks and melodies having a lesser impact. Certainly, the muted feel of Power of Love – the track which became the second single – must have felt like something of a let-down after the sheer joy of its predecessor, a suspicion confirmed by its lack of chart success. Similarly, Good Beat fails to leave much of an impression, as does the title track World Clique.

Frankly it’s the deep-house oriented tracks which surprise most; the more instrumental, dubby nature of them turns out to be extremely refreshing. What is Love, Build the Bridge, and E.S.P.are definite album highlights and couldn’t be more different to the funky psychedelia of the track which made the group famous. All things considered, on a spectrum of funk to house to deep-house, ‘World Clique’ seems to succeed most at the extreme ends.

Of course, as with all Cherry Pop reissues, a plethora of bonus tracks and mixes are included, although several are merely longer and shorter versions of their album counterparts. Still, having longer mixes of Groove…, E.S.P. and What is Love is welcome, even if the longer mixes of Good Beat and Power of Loveare rather less so. Another bonus track is Riding on Through! which would, if we’re honest, struggle to stand out against even the weakest tracks on the main album. It’s a pretty comprehensive collection, nonetheless.

Often the biggest draw in any Cherry Pop release, however, is the booklet and – once again – we aren’t disappointed. Lavishly illustrated with single and magazine covers and other ephemera of the time it’s as sumptuous as ever. But it’s the interview with Lady Miss Kier herself that lifts this release to greater heights; it’s great to have her insights, melancholy though some of them are, and despite the downers, it’s a fascinating read. Kudos must go to the compilers for going out and getting her input for this release.

As ever, Cherry Pop have turned out another excellent and thorough re-issue. Admittedly it’s a re-issue of a somewhat mixed album, but the highs certainly outweigh the lows, and as a snapshot of club life in 1990 it’s a compelling curiosity.

That said, a decidedly bittersweet thought hangs over the release: for any album called ‘World Clique’ to be re-issued in the fragmented and uncertain days of 2017 seems somehow laced with irony. Whilst the title track itself isn’t particularly compelling, its call for global unity certainly is. Whatever the faults of some of the collected tracks, the upbeat party spirit of ‘World Clique’ as an album seems desperately needed in these volatile times.

It may not always be de-licious, not always de-gorgeous, but on the whole it’s certainly pretty de-groovy.

❉ ‘World Clique: Deluxe 2CD Edition’ (WRCPOPD181) was released on 24 February 2017 from Cherry Pop, a division of Cherry Red Records. RRP £10.95 

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