Image: Smoove & Turrell
We're not even sure the addition of Steve McClaren could derail the Geordie northern funk wagon that is Smoove & Turrell. Carrying the spirit of northern soul and motown, their fourth record Crown Posada is by no means simply a modern day replica of a by-gone era, but a revitalisation of the current musical landscape that is sodden with soulless music.
What's most striking of the record is its dynamism. Each musician is given equal spotlight, mapping multiple musical reference points beyond your usual funky joint. Aside from the splurging of rhythm and groove, there's nods to disco, analogue synth sounds, a latin-jazz guitar solo, pulsating electronica and even bongo handy-work.
Their electrifying dissection of Hot Chocolate's 'You Could've Been A Lady' could easily claim the song rights as their own. Mike Porter slams down a trademark retro keyboard riff towards the end, clawing a slice of the limelight from John Turrell's booming vocal that never ceases to blow your lugs away.
Peel the funky layers from this album and you find a deeper side through John's socially-informed lyrics. 'Fight On' embodies the spirit of the working class man facing a world far distant to what he grew up in, and there's 'Glue Bag Flags' which is draped in the nostalgia of growing up in the hardened north east.
Like the real ale flowing through the taps of the Crown Posada pub that inspired the album title, Smoove and Turrell are funnelling new techniques and flavours here, while keeping to a tried and tested base. This is music constructed from the streets, heart and soul, and it's more than worth its place on Craig Charles turntables to national radio playlists.
Like this? Read our Smoove and Turrell interview: 'We're all just lads off the street'