JANUARY SICK AND TIRED, YOU’VE BEEN HANGING ON ME – Poor January it really is the ‘Monday’ of the months isn’t it? The anti-climax of Christmas, cold, dark days, empty pockets from an over indulged Christmas. We make it worse by making it the month that we make promises about health regimes, no alcohol, signing up for a gym membership, stopping those vices. When really it should be the month we take stock, comfort ourselves and stuff the fads. I bloody hate January and I’m not particularly very fond of February either, however February means we are a month closer to Spring. I started back at the gym, well if you can count an hour last Wednesday and I put some effort in because 4 days following that I couldn’t hardly move. I don’t want to do dry January and I most definitely don’t want to stop eating chocolate, but I will and the thing that will help me through all of this is ‘distraction’. My favourite way of distracting myself is music. Reading about it, listening, buying, discussing, any of these things make me happy. I don’t know if you’re interested in what I’ve been reading about or what new music I’ve purchased but I’m going to ramble on and who knows I may distract you from that cigarette you’re fancying or that chocolate biscuit you’re eating out of habit, here goes anyway.
I got 2 new albums for Christmas and I’ve been giving them some hammer the first is….
SMOOVE AND TURRELL – BROKEN TOYS
Smoove & Turrell shouldn’t need any introduction they’re Geordies after all, however up until a year ago I hadn’t known of their existence. The lads create a style of music that they describe as ‘Northern Funk’. The duo’s contemporary sound fuses a variety of musical genres including funk, Northern soul, hip-hop and jazz. Their band is composed of Jonathan Scott Watson (known as Smoove) and John Turrell. Smoove originally started out as a professional DJ in 1990, when he worked in bars and clubs, mainly in the Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland areas. In 1991 he began to make his own music – based on a blend of hip-hop, soul and funk – and released a single under the band name Ashbrooke All Stars entitled “Dubbin’ Up The Pieces”. The track, which was based on the Average White Band classic “Pick Up the Pieces” reached number 16 on the UK Dance Chart. In the years leading up to the formation of Smoove & Turrell his DJ career flourished, he presented a radio show – called Ultravibe – on Sunderland’s Wear FM, fronted a Newcastle upon Tyne funk and hip hop band named Rubberneck and remixed music for other artists. A notable early remix of ‘No Nose Job’ by hip-hop band Digital Underground was commissioned by the Big Life record label. Smoove’s debut single “He Won’t Get Far” was released on the Atomic Hi-Fi label as 12″ picture disc, designed to resemble dusty, scratched vinyl. In 2004 he signed a deal with Acid Jazz records, releasing two albums Dead Men’s Shirts (2005) and Gravy (2007). Outside of Smoove & Turrell he runs two record labels – Wack Records and Wass Records – and works as a music producer, remixer and DJ.
John Turrell is a vocalist and songwriter. He is also a skilled carpenter and a former lecturer at Newcastle College. He was lead vocalist of a band called The Stevie’s, prior to meeting Jonathan Watson and forming Smoove and Turrell. In 2010 listeners of The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on BBC Radio 6 Music voted for their Fantasy Funk Band and he was voted best funk male vocalist. Craig Charles subsequently got this funk dream team together to perform at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios for a radio broadcast. Since the formation of Smoove & Turrell, he has collaborated with a number of artists on their own recordings, among these are The James Taylor Quartet, Kraak & Smaak, Ashley Beedle’s, Mavis Project, and Fab Samperi.
The first Smoove & Turrell release was a limited edition 7” single called “I Can’t Give You Up”,issued in 2007 on German record label Club Tikka as a double A-Side shared with ‘Curry Rice (Instrumental)’ by Torpedo Boyz. It gained huge underground popularity, particularly on Mod and Northern Soul forums and all 500 pressings of the record sold out very quickly. The resultant lack of supply started a notable bidding war for one copy on auction site eBay – one of which sold for £166. Upon completing the recording of their first album, the band’s Live agent sent a copy to Jalapeno Records, who offered the band a deal within an hour of listening to it. Ahead of the release of the debut album ‘Antique Soul’ (2009), Jalapeño reissued the single ‘I Can’t Give You Up’. ‘You Don’t Know’ and ‘Beggarman’ completed a trio of singles, taken from the album, that collectively earned two ‘Record Of The Week’ accolades on BBC Radio 2 and were playlisted on BBC Radio 6 Music. The band toured extensively to support the album, including a triumphant appearance at the Big Chill Festival. In 2011, the band released its second album ‘Eccentric Audio’ (also on Jalapeno Records). Broken Toys their third album was released June 2014.
There newest album is great, I love it and I actually think these lads should be paying me commission the amount of people I have got to buy this album. I also purchased their Northern Coal t-shirt, their nod to their north east roots. I could kick myself because a friend of mine kept telling me to listen to their music and I was “Yeah, yeah I will”. I actually heard them for the first time when they supported Martha Reeves at the Riverside. They were amazing live and I was smitten. Great genuine Geordie lads who have obvious rappor with each off stage and on, John Turrell’s voice is beautifully soulful. So ‘sorry’ Scott you were right, they are great and it took me too long to check them out, so don’t be like me and get them listened to.
THE YOUTH – COME ON
The Youth a four piece band from Denmark. Band Members Jesper Agerbæk, Lasse Tarp, Sune Christian Thomsen and David Peter Jørgensen all from Copenhagen. I don’t know anything about them to be honest other than they have a very 60’s sound and are tagged as 60’s garage, rock R&B. I was recommended this album from a friend who said it was well worth a listen. I liked them a lot so bought their debut album ‘Nothing But’ which was impressively posted from Denmark in 4 days from the leader singer himself. They remind me of ‘The Strypes’ and they are so much better live. Anyway they are touring Europe specifically Italy and who knows they may grace our shores. I hope to see these lads soon. I like them, see what you think.
ANDRAE CROUCH – SOON AND VERY SOON
I read a great article online last week paying homage to the late great Andrae Couch who died on 8TH January 2015. The ‘Father of Modern Gospel’ has left an amazing lasting legacy, that a lot of people will have no idea about because the majority of his music centred around gospel.
Andraé Edward Crouch born 1942 was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. Referred to as “the father of modern gospel music”. In secular music, he was known for his collaborative work during the 1980’s with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Quincy Jones as well as conducting choirs that sang on the Michael Jackson hit “Man in the Mirror” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. Crouch was noted for his talent of incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music he grew up with. His efforts in this area were what helped in paving the way for early American contemporary Christian music during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Crouch’s original music arrangements were heard in the films The Colour Purple and Disney’s The Lion King, as well as the NBC television series Amen. Awards received by him include 9 Grammy Awards, being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.
There are reasons his musical genius may not have been understood in his lifetime and one of them is no doubt the genre in which he operated for most of his career, Gospel, as well as the fact that he never hesitated to take a pass on participating in projects that he felt would compromise his beliefs. No less an icon than Madonna, found this out the hard way when in 1988 at the peak of her fame, she turned to Crouch for help on a song “Like A Prayer,” and Crouch and his choir obliged with a command performance that gave the song power, emotion and depth. But when she sang “let the choir sing” leading into Crouch’s performance, she likely had no clue that he would later politely decline when it came time to film the video for the track. The reason, Madonna had chosen to take the video in a different direction than the song and Crouch wanting no part of a video that sexualised images of saints who came to life, left Madonna no choice but to dress others up in choir robes and have them do their best Milli Vanilli. As he told friends matter-of-factly years later, “the video was something I didn’t believe in.” “What did she say?” I prodded. “She said, ‘I understand,'” he replied. Andraé Crouch the artist may for some remain something of an enigma for he came to his craft with little in the way of formal training, insisting that his musical gifts came from God and only after his father had laid hands on his son and asked that musical talent be divinely given to him, and for the purpose of spreading the Gospel message. Crouch took that charge seriously. I enjoy some gospel, its soul, it’s the blues, it’s a story albeit a holy one. Listen to Andrae and if you don’t understand the sentiment or his reason for devoting his life to the church, appreciate his voice and his obvious talent.
THE SUNDOWNERS – HUMMINGBIRD
The Sundowners a 5 piece Psychedelic Rock band from the North West, have just announced they will be supporting Paul Weller on his upcoming 2015 UK tour. I heard this band for the first time last week singing this track from their debut album which is released 9th February 2015. Love, love, love them. Very young summer sound and I look forward to hearing more and apparently they are great live.
I follow some great DJ’s on PodOmatic and one of my favourites is Scott Taylor’s Hidden Gems. This is the podcast description: Hidden Gems are soulful gems picked with thought, care and consideration for the music, and paying homage to the artists that made it. Ranging from the dawn of the genre in the early 60s to the present day. Scott plays some great music, some of it I had forgotten and a few I’ve never heard. I love it.
Click here as well
PAUL JOHNSON – BETTER THAN THIS (SOUL TALK REMIX)
Paul Johnson was blessed to grow up in Chicago during the heyday of house music. Studying under such prophets as Frankie Knuckles and Farley Jackmaster Funk, it wasn’t long before he, too, hit the decks. While the best-known cut during his career is the late-’90s floor-filler “Get Get Down,” he recently blessed his fans with another rousing track, “Better Than This.” The tune — a treat made available to die-hards on April’s Record Store Day — has been remixed by Mark Jordan, aka Sounds of Soul (SOS for short). In his hands, “Better Than This (Soul Talk Vocal SOS Retouch)” takes Johnson’s already groove-laced song and enhances the crispness of the full-bodied, layered vocals. Light percussion, playful synths and sounds of an audience in the background only add to the simple four-on-the-floor formula and puts out a peace-love-unity-respect vibe. I was over the moon to hear this track from my youth remixed and sounding really good. Simply soul at its best and a true ‘Hidden Gem’ enjoy, oooh it’s lush
While we are on about Podcasts check out these lads ‘Soul Twins’ two lovely lads and friends of mine who describe themselves as: Two bald DJ’s from Manchester, playing soul, hip-hop, disco, house, funk, northern, reggae and all the bits inbetween. Well lads you’re too modest, you’re far more than that. So take a listen please great music, great craic and canny lads.
My last recommendation is this lovely bloke and Prince’s biggest fan I’m sure, the fab AllyAl X
Ally description: Adventures In Paradise, Mixed by AllyAl Hi Everyone unlike my other page (http://allyal.podomatic.com/), this one will be a little more artist/genre specfific. Mainly hip hop, funk, house and soul but you never know what else might turn up, stay tuned!
Well that’s me done, I’m off to the gym *sofa.
Keep On, Keepin’ On … X