John Cartwright - bass, guitar; Chris Gower - percussion, trombone; Pete Hunt - drums; Billy Livsey - keyboards, vocals; Bruce Roberts - guitar, vocals; Jess Roden - vocals; Ron Taylor - percussion, saxophone; Steve Webb - guitar, vocals
Jess Roden is one of those rock 'n' roll enigmas. In his native U.K., he was a critic's darling that was said to have a blue-eyed soul voice matched only by the likes of Paul Rodgers and Steve Winwood. This recording, done as part of a BBC radio concert series, was recorded on an unknown date in 1974, shortly after the release of Roden's first solo LP, issued by Island Records.
With only five songs, it is painfully too short, but long enough to show the enormous talent Roden has always had as a soulful singer, songwriter, musician, and front man. Opening with "Sad Story," Roden and his exceptional backing band move through material that appears on the first LP (produced by New Orleans music icon, Allen Toussaint and featuring performances by members of the Meters and the Neville Brothers), which became the core of his live show for the next few years.
The music is funky with a rock edge, and will remind you of classic Robert Palmer, or a U.K. version of Little Feat. Everything here is tasty, including "I'm On Your Side," "Feelin' Easy," "Live, Love And Learn," and the closer, an energetic version of "Get To Steppin'."
After making the rounds in the mid-1960s in a number of regional U.K. rock and R&B groups, Roden (who is both a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist), joined the Alan Bown Set in 1967. As lead singer and guitarist, the band had a hit with the song "Emergency 999." In 1970, he left to work with Mott the Hoople (on their third LP, Wildlife) and later, the Keef Hartley Band (featuring ex-members of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers). At the same time, he fronted his own group, Bronco, which did one LP stateside on Capitol. Roden also claims to be one of the backing vocalists on the classic Who single, "Magic Bus."
In 1973, he teamed up with ex-Doors John Densmore and Robby Kreiger in the Butts Band, which lasted for one LP and one tour. Later that same year he started working on his solo career. Although he usually always received good press, Roden's numerous solo albums failed to find any significant chart success. Today, Jess Roden works as a professional studio backing vocalist and plays and records his own music sporadically in the U.K.