Globetrotting (in the name of work) continues. Germany last week, Hungary this week. My destination is a city that starts with a K and has three Es. How’s that for a dodgy link to today’s featured band?
Kleeer – great band, but I’m tempted to say - naff name. It seems they went through a few name changes during their existence. Originally in 1972 the backing band for The Choice Four, during their first few years they were called, at different times, Pipeline and, possibly, The Jam Band. Pipeline’s bag unusually was heavy rock. Woody Cunningham the leader and drummer (and vocalist) was becoming in demand as a session drummer and played on tracks recorded by the likes of Sylvester, Candido, and Disco Tex(!). This presence on the New York disco scene resulted in 1976 with a hook up with Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael. The band changed their name again - probably at the behest of Patrick Adams who seemed to have spawned many ‘one off’ bands - to the Universal Robot Band, and went “disco”. In 1978 they decided to produce themselves and finally settled on the name Kleeer – they had obviously tired of thinking of names if that was the best they could come up with! Anyway they stayed as Kleeer until they disappeared from the scene around 1985. They released seven albums in as many years and tracks such as "Keeep Your Body Working" and "Get Tough" were propelled into the charts from the buzz they created in the clubs.
After 1985 most of the members appear to have reverted to session work and songwriting. In 1997 Woody resurfaced in the UK and released two albums (in 1997 and 2000) on the Expansion label. The first of these may have originally been released on a local Manchester label Olde English. Bizarre!
I haven’t got any of Kleeer’s albums but do have a number of their 12” singles. I have always really liked their polished mix of soul, funk and disco, and in a crowded early 80s scene always felt they managed to forge their own clear(!) identity and were a cut above most of the rest.
Here’s a classic double header 12” that came out in the UK. Both tracks are from Kleeer’s second album “Winners”. After all these years the track “Winners” itself doesn’t quite seem to pack the punch it did back in the day but nevertheless I still have a soft spot for it. “Open Your Mind”, however, is something else entirely. Anchored by Norman Durham’s bass it’s a real trip – lots of light and space, ethereal, gorgeous.
The Very Best Of Kleeer