After three LPs, this one has swung and dipped out of left field and landed slap bang on the Radio 2 Playlist. But forget the whys and hows of it. It’s here amongst us, rattling the radio speakers and making Jeremy Vine sound listenable (almost). Smoove & Turrell‘s Crown Posada kicks off with ‘You Could’ve Been A Lady’ and ‘Given It All’, both tunes managing to evoke the power funk of late Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers by way of their own “northern funk”. They’re two songs for the modern dancefloor with their straight ahead mantras and the soul so blue-eyed you can almost smell the dancefloor talc.
This is an LP that begins to race early on with Turrell’s voice on ‘No Point In Trying’ sounding like Matt Deighton during his Mother Earth days or, better still, a young Steve Winwood. The Bill Summers-style percussion sweeps the listener into ’50 Days of Winter”s aural clutter, but it’s worth recognising that this duo’s urban funk does not make the mistake of swiping sounds wholesale. Instead, they pay respectful homage. ’50 Days’, therefore, is a crisp, original track, as is the subsequent ‘Now That Love Has Gone’ which rings ominously with the siren of a warehouse party or – more likely at this current historical juncture – a three-minute warning that tells of falling nukes.
While ‘Glue Bag Flags’ feels like a misstep into Lee Dorsey territory, the title track, ‘Crown Posada’, slides in on a subtle tango undercurrent which lends a much-needed buoyancy to the ensuing soul-funk. It’s a track that comes just at the right midway moment as one wonders where the album might be heading. But on ‘Glass’, you find John Turrell’s voice giving Gregory Porter’s a run for its money and, in truth, perhaps doing a far better job than the branded Porter timbre can of reaching unplucked heart strings.
Penultimate track ‘Slave To The Blues’ sounds too much like something off side 3 of The Isley Brothers’ ‘Winner Takes All’, but the album ends on a high note with a sweet nugget of jazz guitar on ‘New Jerusalem’ that would have made the late Ronny Jordan grin appreciatively. There’s a great deal of cap doffing to the likes of Gilles Peterson and Eddie Piller on this album, but that’s no bad thing in these dry gulch times because to remember the not inconsiderable strides of the acid jazz/rare groove crowd of the late 1980s and early ’90s is to return to a source of high-quality musical endeavour. In the final analysis, Crown Posada works, both as a collection of tasty floor fillers and, just perhaps, as an LP that works as a reset button. Open your ears… but there’s no need to get the flares out. Yet.
Crown Posada is out now via Jalapeño Ltd.