Overdue appraisal of an underrated British Voice. 8/10
This meticulous 6CD set marks the first thorough overview of Jess Roden’s 20-year-career from fronting’60s mod-soul band The Alan Bown Set to lesser-and-lesser-known work with The Humans and Seven Windows. Drawing heavily from Roden’s ’70s output for Island, such was the labels largesse that Roden recorded with Allen Toussaint in New Orleans and Spooner Oldham in Muscle Shoals as well as extended members like Rabbit Bundrick, Mike Kellie, and Paul Kossoff.
Among the highlights is the powerful unreleased “Surrender To You Heart” featuring Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi. One of the most soulful voices.
One of the most soulful British voices of the time, like Terry Reid or Frankie Miller, Roden never achieved the success he deserved. His big break may have come with ex-Doors John Desnmore and Robbie Krieger in the Butts Band in 1973, but it was a major disappointment and stalled a promising solo career. Roden is far better heard with is own country rock outfit Bronco, on 1974’s Jess Roden album or raising the rook on his own band’s Play it Dirty, Play it Class.
If the prospect of 94 tracks, half unreleased is daunting, they reveal Roden to be remarkably potent, a truly fine singer and an underrated songwriter.
by Mick Houghton.