The British singer Jess Roden (b.1947) enjoyed a career which ran from the 1960s into the 1980s, fronting well-known bands, performing extensively, winning the respect of his peers, but never gaining major commercial success. He began his musical career with local bands in his hometown of Kidderminster, but became more widely known in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Alan Bown Set, a popular live soul band whose performances won them a following comparable to thier contemporaries Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band and Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.In 1967 the band changed to a more "psychedelic" style and renamed itself The Alan Bown! (the exclamation mark was soon dropped)..
Roden left them in 1969 and formed the band Bronco, who recorded two albums for Island Records, then in 1973 joined The Butts Band, which also featured ex-Doors members Robby Krieger and John Densmore but only managed one album before splitting up. He then formed The Jess Roden Band and made a series of LPs in a soul-influenced rock style for Island Records during the 1970s, but after 1980 his recording career declined and he spent much of the ensuing years working as a graphic designer. In 2011 a revival of interest in Jess Roden was signalled by the appearance of a website devoted to his work.
In November 2012, music publishers Hidden Masters in collaboration with Jess, produced a 6CD-set of rdigitized and remastered material direct from original analogue tapes. Called 'The Jess Roden Anthology" it has over 50% of studio and live material not heard before. The limited edition is being released via PledgeMusic.
Links to Peel
Among Jess Roden's contemporaries on the Kidderminster scene were The Band of Joy (featuring future Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and John Bonham) and Clifford T. Ward, later to be signed to Peel's Dandelion label. The town was also the home of Frank Freeman's Dancing School, the unlikely-sounding venue which Peel visited to introduce gigs by Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex, among others.
In the summer of 1967, Jess Roden was one of those listeners who were inspired by John Peel's Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. Roden wrote to the programme to express his appreciation and Peel responded by playing the Alan Bown Set's single, "Gonna Fix You Good", not a psychedelic record but a cover of a US soul hit, on his programme. The Alan Bown!'s first single, "Toyland", was a change of style, its 1967 nursery-rhyme pop psychedelia reflecting the influence of British hippiedom. Peel played it on Top Gear and The Alan Bown! did sessions for the programme - as did Roden's subsequent bands, Bronco and the Jess Roden Band.
After Peel's death in 2004, Jess Roden was among those who posted tributes on the memorial web page put up by the BBC.
Festive Fifty Entries
- Two as a member of the Alan Bown, one with Bronco (as well as an In Concert appearance introduced by Peel) and four with the Jess Roden Band. The In Concert set was scheduled for release as 5Live At The BBC (Hiddenmasters) in May 2010.
The Alan Bown
- Toyland / Technicolor Dream / Story Book / Love Is A Beautiful Thing (plus Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies on 31 December 1967 repeat)
- Mutiny / Story Book / All Along The Watchtower / Penny For Your Thoughts
(Roden had left the band by the time the second session was recorded.)
1. Recorded 1971-07-26. First broadcast 04 September 1971. Repeat?
- Old Grey Shadow / Time Slips By / New Day Avenue
2. Recorded 1973-08-13. First broadcast 06 September 1973. Repeat?
- Strange Awakening / Turkey In The Straw / Steal That Gold
- Bumpers West
- Civil Of You Stranger
- Talking Jack Humphries
- Well Anyhow
Jess Roden Band
1. Recorded 1974-08-27. First broadcast 10 September 1974. Repeat ?
- What The Hell / Live Love And Learn / Reason To Change / Feelin' Easy
2. Recorded 1975-04-24. First broadcast 01 May 1975. Repeat ?
- Lies / Honey Don't Worry / Under Suspicion / What Took Me So Long
- Blowin' / In A Circle / You Can Leave Your Hat On / On A Winner With You
4. Recorded 1976-12-07. First broadcast 17 December 1976. Repeat ?
- Stay In Bed / The Ballad Of Bog Sally / US Dream / Me And Crystal Eye
- The Ballad of Big Sally
- On A Winner With You
- In A Circle
- Stay In Bed
- Me And Crystal Eye
- You Can Leave Your Hat On
- Can't Get Next To You
- Jump Mama
(Please correct mistakes and add any missing info)
Other Shows Played
(The information below was compiled only from the database of this site and is incomplete. Please add further information if known.)
- 24 October 1970: Lazy Now (single) Island
- 21 November 1970: Civil Of You Stranger (LP - Country Home) Island
- 03 July 1973: Steal That Gold (LP – Smoking Mixture) Polydor
- 12 July 1973: Tennessee Saturday Night (LP – Smoking Mixture) Polydor
- 26 July 1973: Turkey In The Straw (LP-Smoking Mixture) Polydor
Jess Roden Band
- 24 September 1974: Reason To Change (LP - Jess Roden) Island
- 27 October 1974: unknown tracks (Sounds On Sunday show)
- 10 March 1975: 'Under Suspicion' (7") Island WIP 6227
- 27 February 1976: You Can Leave Your Hat On (LP - Keep Your Hat On) Island
- 27 February 1976: In A Circle (LP - Keep Your Hat On) Island
- 27 February 1976: Desperado (LP - Keep Your Hat On) Island
- 27 February 1976: Blowin' (LP - Keep Your Hat On) Island
- 10 November 1976: unknown tracks (LP - Play It Dirty, Play It Clean) Island
- 05 April 1977: Me And Crystal Eye (LP: Blowin’) Island
- 05 April 1977: Blowin’ (LP: Blowin’) Island
- 06 April 1977; unknown tracks (2 from LP: Blowin')
- 30 September 2003: Under Suspicion (7")' (Island)