Smoove and Turrell Broken Toys

It has been too long since I’ve featured the amazing soul/funk sound of Smoove and Turrell (read my previous HERE) and I’m happy to report that the guys are back with their brand new album ‘Broken Toys’. I saw the guys perform live before Christmas and they sounded awesome as expected. I spoke to John and Mike before the gig and they confirmed that they were were working on the album. They said that it was sounding great and that it was their best work to date. Well, was he right? You will get my answer soon.

As a quick recap, Smoove and Turrell are the musical collaboration of Smoove (production/percussion), John Turrell (vocals), Mike Porter (keys), Andy Champion (bass), Lloyd Croft (drums), Dave Wilde (sax/flute) and Athol Cassidy (guitar). Together they deliver a sound that is soulfully funktastic and their live performances are something legendary! I had the opportunity to ask John from the band a few questions about the new album and more, this is what he had to say.

What is the story behind Smoove and Turrell? How did you all get together?

To cut a very long story short, my wife Nicola first introduced me to Smoove. They were mates from back at University and Smoove said that he would help me out to record a demo I was putting together for my first band The Stevie’s. We hit it off straight away.

Some of the lads had been playing with Smoove already promoting his Acid Jazz albums in “Smoove Live” so we just had to find the right additions. For a band the size of ours you would normally find a lot of people come and go but we have really all stuck together, even the lads who have left still play with us regularly if one of the other boys can’t do it. I think we’ve always respected our musicians in that way.

How would you describe your sounds and who are the bands biggest influences?

It’s impossible to really answer that, as we are all so different. Smoove’s biggest influence is Hip Hop; this is why he spends most of his time working on the beats but then his musical taste is so varied I couldn’t tell you what goes on in that little music box of a mind. For me it changes all the time, of course there are things that will stay with me always like the music of Tom Waits, Joni Mitchel, Marvin Gaye, and Nick Drake but there are bands that prick my imagination all the time, Solar Rosa on Agogo Records and Dear Reader from South Africa are both good examples.

What was the plans when you be can writing Broken Toys?

There was never a set plan. I think that’s the most important thing when working with Smoove. We never make a whole bunch of songs then choose the best ones for the album. If we are working on something and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere we generally dump it. As far as a vision was concerned we wanted to utilize the band members more, giving them all a chance to write this time round, which I think has benefited us all better than any plan could have. Smoove wanted his production to be next level and I can honestly say I think he accomplished it. You have to remember we are working with only a laptop; there is no big studio or sound engineers working with us, for me the guy is a genius. Lyrically and vocally, I don’t think I have ever really strayed from the path of just being honest, there’s tongue and cheek in there of course but again that’s a big part of my personality.

What were your thoughts when you first heard the album in full?

It’s strange for me because I leave the slog to Smoove, obviously we talk right through the process but I trust him implicitly to get the job done. I think for the lads it was much more of a buzz because they really only got the album once it was done. I was listening to each track as they came though over and over again to give honest feedback to Smoove and of course to pull my parts to bits!

What is your favourite song from the album and why?

I love “Broken Toys”, out of all the tracks I think lyrically it speaks to me the most, musically it’s about as perfect as anything we have ever done and from a production point of view it was the one track Smoove spent the most time on, almost three months. There are others like “Will you be mine” and “I just want more” which I think capture our influences perfectly and of course I love “Now or Never” which takes you about as far away from our so called sound as we could possibly chance!

Your live shows are awesome! How would you describe your live performances?

We are very lucky in the fact that our best mates are also our long-suffering band. We love what we do and I hope that it comes across in our live performances. It’s the buzz of playing our own material that really gets the lads going, seeing the crowd dancing, singing back lines from their favourite tracks, basically enjoying what we are all there for, the music!

You guys tour like crazy, what are your survival tips and essentials?

We don’t really need that much, a good place to crash, a driver that understands we are all Muppets and a steady supply of the stuff of life “beer”.

If you were headlining a world tour, who would you choose as your support act(s)?

The Beatles!

Is there a musical goal that Smoove and Turrell would love to achieve?

Without a doubt to be the best live act in the country.

What are the future plans for the band?

We have to keep doing what we do best, enjoy what we do. In a way it’s the only thing that keeps us going. Music is a beautiful animal, we’ve just got to hope that we are feeding it the right stuff to keep on loving it for a long time to come.

So, is Broken Toys the best work to date? The answer is . . . .. YES!!!! These guys never fail to impress me in the way they raise the bar with each release. The calibre of the music somehow keeps getting better and I suspect this is a result of how close they work together to achieve this amazing sound. I love that each member is integral to the great northern soul sound they deliver which includes a great range of tempos. One of my favourite tracks ‘Always’ shows the bands softer soulful sound that shines thanks to the outstanding vocals of John Turrell. He sings with so much soul and emotion that you can’t help getting lost inside the song. If you ever get the chance to hear him live you will understand why I rate his vocal ability so highly as he is one of the finest singers I have had the pleasure of hearing live. The other side of their music is when they ramp up the tempo and hit funk mode, this is when the band are untouchable! This type of sound they deliver is always so infectious and can get anyone with a pulse to dance. My favourite song on the album ‘Lay it on Me’ is a great example of this. Overall, this album has such a great feel and it is a must for every music fans collection.

If you get the opportunity to see Smoove and Turrell perform live then I highly recommend you jump at the chance as they are one of the best live bands I have EVER seen. They know how to entertain a crowd and if they don’t get you dancing then you need to see a doctor ha ha! You can visit their website at to see if they are playing near you. You can also find out more about the band on the site and you can order a copy of ‘Broken Toys’. You can also follow their musical journey on their social media pages at Facebook and Twitter. Do yourself a favour and check out the music of Smoove and Turrell today!