Kleeer ‘Get Tough – The Kleeer Anthology 1978-1985’ 2CD (BBR) 4/5

kleeerFunk group Kleeer were capable of great subtlety in their music as well as utterly compelling dance grooves, and this is highlighted to the fore on this excellent value for money and well research anthology that spans the end of disco era, ending in the hi-tech era of the mid-1980s. Kleeer did not neatly fit into any one category and the evolving change in personnel helped to maintain a natural progression in their sound. Their first foray onto the dance floor came with the very first album which yielded a minor pop chart entry with ‘Keep your body workin’, which could almost be a summary slogan of the hedonistic late 1970s period. A second single, ‘Tonight’s the night (good time)’, made a brief entry into the R & B charts. With a stronger second album, the 1980 ‘Winners’ set, the band cemented their own sound and the title track was lodged just on the outside of the R & B top twenty. UK fans became more widely aware of their music with the 1981 album, License to dream’, which features the memorable dance floor stunner, ‘Get tough’, complete with a John Wayne sound alike impersonator and this was a top five US dance chart hit and made the top fifty of the UK pop charts. At this point new band members enlisted and the Kleeer sound took an another new dimension. While Slave had a distinctly harder edge and both Earth, Wind and Fire and Kool and the Gang softened their funk content in order to achieve major mainstream success, Kleeer remained a mainly underground band and released 1982’s album, ‘Taste the music’, with catchy synthesizer riffs on the title track and layered female vocals on top. From the same album comes ‘De Ting continues’ which has an amusing rap. Possibly the strongest track on the recording is the terrific funk-tinged boogie of ‘She said she loves me’, which deserved to be a bigger hit at the time, and here, is presented as the full 12″ version. A second album surfaced at the end of the same year, but failed to capture the public’s attention. However, with a further change of personnel and the inclusion of ace Brazilian producer Eumir Deodato, the band recorded was is generally considered to be their most critically acclaimed album, ‘Intimate Connection’, from 1984 that should have ensured pop chart success and it certainly reached the lower echelons. The title track is an epic slow jam which demonstrated how new technology could be utilised in a creative manner and the soulful male lead vocals top off what may be for some the ultimate Kleeer song. Equally soulful in intensity is the gorgeous ‘You did it again’, while soulful harmonies abound on the uptempo fender bass and synth-led ‘Go for it’, while the Earth, Wind and Fire’ influence on the harmonies is all too apparent on ‘Take your heart away’. Kleeer never quite managed to reach the dizzy heights of ‘Intimate Connection’ and the follow-up album, ‘Never cry again’, their distinctive former sound was swallowed up by the onset of synth bass and drums that led to uniformity in much of the dance world. That said, even here the group proved influential and it is arguable that a more pared down version of what Kleeer recorded on their final recording inspired artists of the magnitude of Prince to record a song such as ‘Kiss’.

Tim Stenhouse