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 practising 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 the 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.
It was in fellow soul head Craig Charles that they found their first radio champion as he supported them heavily on ‘The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show’ which was a kick-
starter for their assault on national radio eventually landing Radio 2 record of the week twice and a playlist on 6 Music.
By the time their second album – Eccentric Audio was released the band had already
been touring far and wide building up a loyal fan base helped by continued support from
radio which culminated in two playlists and a New Year’s Eve live session on Radio 2.
With two critically acclaimed albums under their belts and word was starting to spread across
the pond to America – S&T tracks were used on TV shows, feature films and an ABC
network primetime ad campaign, as well as in video games such as The Crew. KCRW in
LA put Hard Work in their coveted Today’s Top Tune slot further exposing the band to
west coast tastemakers and the boys becoming unlikely darlings of the US sync business.
Sticking to their roots and keeping a close relationship with their fans was always a key
driving ethos behind the crew. By their Broken Toys album, their extensive touring and
appeal across borders was recognised by BPI as they were awarded Music for Export
Growth Scheme funding to assist with an extended touring schedule. This ‘get in the van
and play the show’ willingness has built up one of the most loyal fan-bases in the
industry today, proven when the boys were invited to play Canadian Music Week and
crowdfunded the costs to take them there in just a couple of days.
Album number four Crown Posada was released in 2016, with the whole band involved
in the writing process. An album that infused their northern soul and funk style with
early electronica influences, rock, pop, disco and jazz whilst still maintaining the
signature S&T sound.
Socially conscious lyrics are very much a centrepiece of the themes explored on the
likes of ‘Beggarman’ and ‘Money’. Highlighting the divide between the rich and the poor
and offering an insider’s look at what it’s like to grow up, live and raise a family in the
North East. 50 days Of Winter in particular offers a bleak picture of the isolation that can
strike when life on the road stops and real life kicks in.
As always though with Smoove & Turrell the highs and the lows of life are represented
and the hard times realism of some of the lyrics is tempered by the irrepressible
dancefloor euphoria of others.
2018 saw the Georgie soul crew return with a stunning fifth album Mount Pleasant, after
the success of Crown Posada, which gave the band multiple BBC Radio 2 playlists and
6 music spins.
2019 then saw the band celebrating 10 years in the business with the release of “Solid
Brass – 10 Years of Northern Funk” a retrospective of the biggest tracks from their
blistering live shows with the added bonus of two new tracks – “I’m A Man” and “Give It
Back”. A sell-out Solid Brass tour saw them delivering a set of strictly the hits to
The band returned in 2020 with “Stratos Bleu” their 6th studio album which went to No1
in the official U.K Dance Chart! Keyboard player Mike Porter’s collection of analogue
synths came to the fore on the new album with a nod to the heady days of the early ’90s
clubbing which may be a surprise to some but in the context of this band as dancefloor
favourites make perfect sense.
Catch Smoove & Turrell Live at Solfest on Saturday, August 28 at the Drystone Mainstage.