Ooh lala lalalalala / How do you say delicious?
How do you say delovely? / How do you say delectable?
How do you say divine? / How do you say degroovy?
How do you say Deee-Lite?
© 1990 Deee-Lite
One hit wonder or not, at the time I really liked Deee-Lite’s World Clique album, which I played a lot. In combination with the ‘daisy’ revolution by De La Soul’s Three Feet High And Rising it provided a heavy dose of feel-good, which I welcomed whole heartedly.
The band started in 1986 as a duo with the (romantic) couple Lady Miss Kier (real name Kierin Magenta Kirby) and Super DJ Dmitry (real name Dmitry Brill). In the beginning they performed monthly in various New York clubs. In 1987 they founded their production company Sampladelic, after buying the highly influential Akai sampler.
Beside clubs, some shows were played as the support act to hip-hop artists like De La Soul and Jungle Brothers. It didn’t take long for the group to attract a loyal group of followers. One of them was Towa Tei. He sent the group a demo tape and started collaborating with them. They hit it off and in 1988 Tei joined the band, using the name Jungle DJ Towa Towa.
Deee-Lite stood out in the clubs with their innovative fusion of house, techno, ambient and funk. The visual presentation, heavily inspired by the local drag-queen scene, and the group’s cultural diversity, made the band very popular.
The band had some famous followers as well, among which A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and p-funk bassist extraordinaire Bootsy Collins. Bootsy happened to know some horn players, The Horny Horns…
On August 7th, 1990, Deee-Lite’s debut album, World Clique, was released. The great single Groove Is In The Heart, which was a worldwide smash, helped the album become a huge success. The album has quite a number of high profile guests, like Bootsy Collins, Q-Tip, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. In the US the group had several hits, which meant that the album left the album charts in June of 1991. It would be the group’s most successful album.
It’s a pity that the album houses that one humongous hit, Groove Is In The Heart. Even though it truly is a great song, it gives the incorrect impression that Deee-Lite is a typical one hot wonder phenomenon. The album contains more great songs, that make me smile to this very day. I have read that the album sounds dated, but I really don’t get that assumption. The music is funky, warm and (above all) happy and danceable.
Singer and lyricist Lady Miss Kier has a fine voice, and deserved a bigger career.
Three singles were culled from the album in The Netherlands, all released in 1990:
- Groove Is In the Heart
- Good Beat
- Power Of Love
All songs written by Deee-Lite, except Deee-Lite Theme, written by Deee-Lite and Herbie Hancock and Groove Is In The Heart, written by Deee-Lite, Herbie Hancock and Jonathan Davis.
- Deee-Lite Theme
- Good Beat
- Power Of Love
- Try Me On… I’m Very You
- Smile On
- What Is Love?
- World Clique
- Groove Is In The Heart
- Who Was That?
- Deep Ending
- Build The Bridge
When World Clique was released on compact disc two songs were added: the opening Deee-Lite Theme and the closing Build The Bridge.
- Lady Miss Kier – vocals
- Super DJ Dmitry – turn tables, samples
- Jungle DJ Towa Towa – turn tables, keyboards, programming
- Bootsy Collins – bass, vocals
- Q-Tip – raps
- Maceo Parker – saxophone
- Fred Wesley – trombone
- Bill Coleman, Sahirah Moore, Sheila Slappy – (background) vocals
|Good Beat||M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume
Black Ivory – Mainline
|Power Of Love||–|
|Try Me On…I’m Very You||Elephant’s Memory – Jungle Gym At The Zoo
Fred Wesley and The Horny Horns – Four Play
|Smile On||Melvin Bliss – Synthetic Substitution|
|What Is Love?||Mr. Fingers – Can You Feel It
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message
|World Clique||Yellow Magic Orchestra – 磁性紀－開け心－
Fred Wesley And The J.B.’s – Blow Your Head
|E.S.P.||Ryuichi Sakamoto – Lexington Queen
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Riot In Lagos
The Monkees – Superstitious
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Rydeen
|Groove Is In The Heart||Vernon Burch – Get Up
Herbie Hancock – Bring Down The Birds
Bel-Sha-Zaar, Tommy Genapopoluis and The Grecian Knights – Introduction
Vic Mizzy, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor – Green Acres
Billy Preston – Uptight
Ralph MacDonald – Jam On The Groove
Ray Barretto – Right On
Hateful Head Helen – Hateful Head Helen
|Who Was That?||Jimmy Spicer – The Bubble Bunch
Chi-Lites – We Are Neighbours
Steve Arrington – Nobody Can Be You
|Deep Ending||J.J. Johnson – Parade Strut
Silver Apples – A Pox On You
|Build the Bridge||Liquid Liquid – Bell Head|
Deee-Lite went on tour. The tour lasted almost en entire year, visiting many festivals. The shows were exuberant, including dancers, light effects and an extremely tight band, that included p-funk masters Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell. The concerts had a very high musical level, showing Lady Miss Kier’s remarkably good voice. Some of the images and videos circulating on the internet are exciting and spectacular.
After World Clique
Jungle DJ Towa Towa decided not to go on tour. He preferred working on the next album from the comfort of his own house. It would ultimately result in the politically charged Infinity Within in 1992, naming themes like the environment, safe sex and democracy. The albums held two dance hits with Runaway and Pussycat Meow, but the album sold considerably less than the debut. Despite glowing reviews for their previous tour, Deee-Lite wasn’t granted funds for a second tour.
Time for reflection then. The following album was geared to the growing and upcoming rave culture. Jungle DJ Towa Towa wasn’t interested in the new direction and left the band just moments before the release of the 1994 album Dewdrops In The Garden. Towa, who continued his career as DJ Towa Tei, was quickly replaced by DJ Ani. The album fared much better than its predecessor and the band toured for almost a year. Meanwhile the relationship of Miss Kier and DJ Dmitry had fallen apart. After the release of 1996’s remix album Sampladelic Relics & Dancefloor Oddities, Deee-Lite disbanded.
All members are still active in the world of music as artist and/or DJ. There is no chance of a reunion, ever. In 2017 the World Clique 2cd Deluxe Edition was released, which continued an elaborate booklet and a in-depth interview with Lady Miss Kier.
What do you think about Deee-Lite and the debut album? Let me know!
Deee-Lite in The Netherlands 1991 image: fanart.tv/apoplife.nl
Deee-Lite in 1987/1988 image: flickr.com
Deee-Lite – World Clique – Singles image: dutchcharts.nl/discogs.com
Deee-Lite – World Clique back cover image: djmag.com
Deee-Lite – Press kit image: timgur.com
Deee-Lite @ Saturday Night Live 02/16/1991 image: gettyimages.com/apoplife.nl
All other images: spotify.com