The story of Smoove & Turrell began in the post millennium North East of England with a group of working class lads and a shared passion for soul. Smoove had met keyboardist Mike Porter through the local music scene in Newcastle and recruited him for his ‘Smoove Live’ project for the label Acid Jazz. Around Mike’s house one day they overheard a neighbour singing sublime melodies in his garage with friends which turned out to be none other than a young John Turrell practicing in a band called ‘The Stevies’. After a couple of further sessions ‘scouting’ him they finally knocked on the door and had a chat and hit it off straight away.
A man of many facets, John Turrell was a skilled carpenter, working and teaching the trade to apprentices at a local college as well as his musical endeavours. After the trio performed several gigs together with various other guest musicians it was agreed they would create some new material and so they started to write and arrange a clutch of tracks that Smoove would record and produce.
Their first track was the now classic ‘I Can’t Give You Up’ recorded at Mike Porter’s house as his Hammond Organ was immovably wedged in his utility room! If you listen closely to the (now extremely expensive) original 7 inch recording released on the German label Club Tikka you can still hear Mike’s mum retrieving a pack of peas from the freezer… The track was so popular in the underground Mod and Northern soul scene all initial 500 pressings of the record sold out, resulting in online bidding wars, with the record going for as much as £160.
The first few tracks were received with a rapturous response and their newfound northern soul style demanded that a Smoove & Turrell live band was formed so they swiftly filled out their ranks with a crack team of like-minded Geordie musicians. Now as a full soul band they were creatively allowed to really stretch their legs both live and in the studio and their debut Antique Soul was released in 2009 on Jalapeno Records.
11 years and 5 albums later the band returned in 2020 with “Stratos Bleu” their 6th studio album and one that continues to pair Turrell’s conscious lyricism with Smoove’s impeccable production. Keyboard player Mike Porter’s collection of analogue synths comes to the fore on the new album with a nod to the heady days of early 90’s clubbing which may be a surprise to some but in the context of this band as dancefloor favourites makes perfect sense.
Despite lockdown, the album scored the band their first official UK charts Number 1 (Dance Album Chart) as well as making a healthy dent in the Overall album Top 40. Alongside this they were given an Album of the Day accolade at BBC 6 music, cementing the fact that 6 albums in, their brand of gritty realism doused in dancefloor euphoria is more relevant than ever.