Liner Note Author: Christian John Wikane.
Recording information: Atlantic Studios, New York, NY; Duplex Sound Studios, New York City.; Golden Horn Studio, Freeport, Long Island; Power Station, New York, NY.
Although Kleeer never had a major hit, they were among the most skilled and consistent disco-funk bands to debut during the late '70s, and they easily adapted to the rapid developments in post-disco R&B through the mid-'80s. Sequenced chronologically, the 28-track Get Tough: The Kleeer Anthology, 1978-1985 contains all 12 Kleeer songs that hit Billboard's R&B chart. Early singles such as "Keeep Your Body Workin'" and "Open Your Mind" were respectively as off the wall as Cameo and as sophisticated as Chic, while later Eumir Deodato collaborations like "Intimate Connection" offered machine funk as cold-blooded as that of Rick James (a fan who contributed some synthesizer to "She Said She Loves Me," also included here). The generous helping of non-charting singles and album cuts is judiciously selected, accurately heavier on the earlier and later albums while lighter on the two crammed into 1982. There was much more to Kleeer than the A-sides. Among the deeper highlights are the airy "Happy Me," featuring an alluring lead turn from Isabelle Coles (with support from Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown), the hard-grooving "Wall to Wall," and the slip-and-slide vocoder slow jam "Tonight," which has inspired West Coast artists such as DJ Quik and Sa-Ra across decades. After Kleeer reached the end of a seven-year, seven-album lifespan, their catalog was reissued on compact disc in fragmentary and wildly inconsistent fashion by several catalog labels, even though the band recorded for Atlantic alone. Back in 1998, Rhino delivered an ideal single-disc anthology, The Very Best of Kleeer, but this BBR release presents a significantly larger, more colorful picture, topped with in-depth liner notes that incorporate retrospective commentary from surviving bandmembers Paul Crutchfield and Richard Lee. ~ Andy Kellman