The four members New York’s Kleeer had spent the 1970s working in the funk and disco scene before finally coming together in 1978, signing to Atlantic, where they would release seven albums of funk/dance groove. Winners, their sophomore album, is an album resting firmly at the crossroads of black music: disco was on its way out, commercial pop and R&B was brewing, while rap and hip-hop were starting to appear.
Released in 1980, Winners offers up a groove that’s quite enjoyable; mellow, cool bass lines interspersed with complex arrangements and sonorous voices. Kicking off with the epic title track, the bugle call giving way to a funk groove that doesn’t let up for the next seven minutes. It’s a groove that they’d return to on “Nothin’ Said,” while “Rolling On” would mellow that beat–but not much. Winners wasn’t all disco; “I Still Love You,” which features the fine vocals of backup singer Isabelle Coles, is 1970s R&B at its finest, while “Hunger For Your Love” turns down the lights and turns on the charm. Then there’s the album’s closing track, “Open Your Mind,” which addresses tolerance and love and harmony over a gentle, mellow beat not unlike Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall.
Kleeer deserves to be rediscovered, if not for the mellow, gentle, and relaxing music they made; Winners is a quiet mountain of pure groove.