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Issue 1096

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Review

Smoove & Turrell: Stratos Bleu Remixed (Jalapeno Records)

Smoove & Turrell: Stratos Bleu (Jalapeno Records) album review @bluesandsoul.com

10

9.1

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UK release date 16.10.2020

Hands down, one of the best albums in its class this year is Smoove & Turrell's "Stratos Bleu". Not only did the authentic funk & soul boys from the UK's North East exceed any preconceived expectation but dare I say, they surprised a fair few into the bargain, as they leapt genre with confidence and became a force to be reckoned with, as they hit the top spot in the dance chart. As if they knew the album was going to a be dancefloor must, I interviewed them pre the original album's release and learned that these visionaries always planned to release the subsequent "Stratos Bleu Remixed" album. Now, after hearing it, I can see why…

Featuring the sublime remixing talents of a who's who of top tune makers, there's pretty much something for every dance appreciator on this release. Kicking off the album, Crazy P's Hot Toddy steps up with the hauntingly super-chilled version of ”Elgin Towers". Remix hero Ashley Beedle drops a deft electronic soundscape behind the always on point vocals of frontman, John Turrell. Disco King, Ray Mang, works his magic on the band's modern dance anthem, "Do It". In-house remix champ Smoove excels with Balearic swayer "It's You" and also extends and smooths out the last track on the album, the reprise of "It Ain't Working".

Fellow North East producer, Rayka, injects the spirit of Acid House into proceedings - I shouldn't be surprised how well it works - as he pushes standout tracks "This Time" and E.P. (“Emotional Pleasure”) in different directions - one thing’s for sure, there's never a dull moment on either track. Remix partner Fouk adjusts the album's dance kilter yet again but the mission to deliver a slick dance tune is still constant on the keys led banger, "Fade Away".

Jalapeno stablemate Dr Rubberfunk is well placed track wise, bang in the middle of this album's action, equipped with a hauntingly vocal echo effect and authentic keys which give Turrell's mastery a springboard into a more laid-back cool territory, while melding perfectly with the tracks around it. DJ Krash mixes style to perfection as "Talk About Nothing" moves from it's original laidback vibe to a drum 'n' bass killer, which gets chilled white isle stylee and ends with trip-hop, then a scratchingly hip-hop crescendo - to hear it is to believe it! I still don't know how Krash fits all that into four minutes, forty-seven seconds but he does!

Another Newcastle native, this time it Sorely with his reworking of "It Ain't Working" which is a bit spesh, I have to say. It's totally different to the original and to Ashley Beedle's earlier remix, this version earns its place on the album though merit, believe. With its deep beats and hypnotic vocal, it's a commercial dance monster in waiting and probably my favourite remix on the album.

Next up, brothers Oscar & Athol Cassidy and John Pope who together are better known by the production/remix handle, Twin Beam. It’s time for electric lead guitar rock riffs and syncopated drum patterns to the party. Again, it's anyone's guess where this track is going as it mixes with a funky dance bass guitar but like the rest, it's satisfaction all the way.

It's a second outing for "Elgin Towers" as Fila Brazilla's Steve Cobby, like those mentioned before him, take their chosen remix off in an unexpected direction, this time mixing trip-hop, gospel and Balearic beats once more on this slower than the Hot Toddy and original versions. It's has a real last track of the night, thanks for coming feel but in the tradition of all the great clubs, the crowd shout will always shout one more and the DJ's oblige… cue a second version of "Fade Away" which has Faithless "Can't Get No Sleep" keys and beat but it's also mixed with a slick bass and tight ascending and descending electronica which moves it into a more piano-house banger direction. Again, skilfully remixed, which is the theme for the whole album and a cracking ode to the original release. It's got to be full marks for the sheer outside the box imagination and skillset shown by everyone involved. It also leads to the question, what's next for Smoove & Turrell after this? I can't wait to find out!
Words LEE TYLER

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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