Let’s suppose you’re one of the five finest soul vocalists Britain has ever produced, but hardly anyone knows: and of those that do, a sizeable number have simply forgotten. You’d want posterity to shape up and sort out this absurdity, would you not? Cheeringly, this is precisely what HiddenMasters founder Neil Storey had in mind for the UK’s greatest unsung singer, Jess Roden.
Accordingly, The Jess Roden Anthology encompasses 94 remastered tracks over the course of six CDs, with a first pressing of 950 numbered copies in a 12” hardback book format. The labours of Hercules are a lazy mid-afternoon wank next to this undertaking – particularly so when you realise that more than half of the tracks are previously unreleased demos, live recordings or alternate takes, all impeccably annotated with full personnel, recording dates and venues, source tapes, the works. When the unissued material includes a song as infinitely beautiful as the cosmic-soul-searcher The Farm, you wonder what everyone was thinking back in the day.
Roden sings like Jupiter, king of the gods throughout – from the joyous, brassy club soul of The Alan Bown Set and Bronco’s unhurried acoustic dreaminess, all the way to the ambient jazz seduction of Seven Windows in the 80s, and beyond.
… then 5 stars are printed… whoa!