A SEVEN-PIECE soul and funk band led by Geordie duo Smoove & Turrell will be one of the highlights of Coastival next month.
Smoove & Turrell usually work as a pair but on this occasion will swell to a septet.
Manager Peter Wanders describes Smoove as one of the country’s finest beat producers and Turrell as “the epitome of blue-eyed soul”, whose voice is “somewhere between Otis Redding and Animals frontman Eric Burdon”.
Tracks from their album Antique Soul, released in April 2009, have been played on the Radio 6 show of funk aficionado Craig Charles, who wrote the liner notes.
“Known mostly for uptempo, northern soul-influenced, funk and beats jams, Smoove finds on this album someone who can roll with him on those lofty highs but then provide the gravel-voiced soul for the comedown,” says Peter.
“Their first collaboration was I Can’t Give You Up, a track that was never meant to go beyond a 500-edition run of a seven-inch on an obscure German label”, he adds. “When the last copies of the run reached the heady heights of £166 on eBay, with northern soul and funk fanatics in a bidding frenzy, the boys knew they had found something a bit special in each other”.
Smoove describes the album as having an “old dusty feel to its production mixed with fresh contemporary edges.
“I wanted a retro feel while keeping hip-hop production values in my beats. It reflects the different styles I play in my DJ sets - soul, Latin, funk, jazz, easy listening, northern soul and hip-hop. I’m a real crate digger and only play vinyl in my DJ sets. I found an amazing track by 70s songwriter Lynsey de Paul that we sampled for You Don’t Know. Normally samples take forever to clear but someone played it directly to Lynsey and she loved it. We got everything cleared the same day”.
Turrell’s lyrics reflect his life experiences, from his relationship with his wife and family to his binging habits over cigarettes and alcohol. “But while he deals with everyday subjects, his lyrics are never mundane, finding beauty in the ordinary and elevating the everyday to poetry”, Peter says.
“Turrell is a singer and lyricist who defiantly wears his heart on his sleeve, whether it involves belting out his angst on dancefloor fillers like I Can’t Give You Up or baring his soul on the deep and funky Darker Dayz. Brought up by family members on a diet of Steely Dan, Free, Joni Mitchell and Cream, he takes influences from them all but as he grew older it was the soulboy delivery of Bobby Brown, George Benson and After Seven that started to inform his musical education.
“Coupled with a vintage crate digger like Smoove, that delivery is turned into a funk weapon of the highest order”, says Peter.
The gig was has been arranged by Coastival club night organiser and DJ Paul Toole, aka Tooley, who came across Smoove when he heard his 2003 track The Revolution Will be Televised. Paul describes this as “a contemporary answer to Gill Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and a satire on consumerism.
“Last year we saw John Turrell three times at the Big Chill festival: he sang with Ashley Beedle’s Mavis project, sharing the stage with Candi Staton, Ed Harcourt and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner; we saw him perform with the Fantasy Funk Band, hosted by Craig Charles, where he took the roof off with his renditions of soul classics, including a rousing version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up; finally we caught John still going late into the night with his own band, who wowed the crowd with their funky, northern soul influenced tunes”, Paul recalls.
“Antique Soul was one of my favourite albums of 2009. It included the single Beggarman, the video for which was filmed on location in Newcastle. It manages to be simultaneously cool and witty while celebrating the duo’s northern roots. I fully expect Smoove & Turrell’s dancefloor friendly sound, to be one of the highlights of Coastival”.
The band will be supported by former Critical Beatdown DJ and Unique Records artist Kista and his sidekick Tooley plus guest Rowan Oliver.
Tickets are available from Coastival.com, priced £5. While based at the Spa, Coastival will use various venues around town, indoor and outdoor, from 18-20 February.