World Clique

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Its reputation may rest on only one hit single -- but what a hit. "Groove Is in the Heart" defined the summer of 1990 on radio and MTV with its delicious combination of funk, modern dance sheen, and Lady Miss Kier's smart, sharp diva ways. Add in guest vocals and bass from Bootsy Collins (a pity his hilarious video cameo wasn't represented here), brass from the original Horny Horns duo of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, and a smooth mid-song rap from A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, and the results sounded good then and now. The rest of World Clique offers variations on the song's theme, with Kier's sweet, light vocals and DJs Dimitri and Towa Tei making it work in various ways. It's still a bit surprising that Kier didn't go on to greater fame on her own, because she definitely has not merely the pipes but the personality to carry something on her own -- compared to the dog-whistle vocal calisthenics of someone like Mariah Carey, there's no contest. Check out her work on songs like "Good Beat" and the amusing sass of such numbers as "Try Me on, I'm Very You." The two musicians come up with a seamless, adept flow throughout, merrily raiding whatever they so choose in the past for their own purposes. Disco is the heart of it all, with everything from hip-hop breaks to bubble-salsa piano -- even early Depeche Mode! -- taking a bow; hints of the future genre-mashing Towa Tei would make his own trademark are already plentiful. Bootsy and the Horny Horns crop up at other points as well, adding just enough classic funk to blend with the crisper electronic pulses and arrangements.

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