Album review: The Jess Roden Band – Keep Your Hat On (1976)


Jess Roden’s second solo album, the first to be credited to The Jess Roden Band was recorded at Island Studios in Hammersmith and features some quality musicians on nine well written tracks which are a mix of band member penned originals and covers. Roden is joined by guitarists Steve Webb and Bruce Roberts, bass player John Cartwright, drummer Pete Hunt and the horn section of Chris Gower and Ronnie Taylor.

The album kicks off with a cover of Randy Newman’s ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’. This version is perhaps a little slower than the Tom Jones one released many years later but is far better. The Roden penned ‘Jump Mama’ follows and keeps the tempo high and upbeat. Album highlight ‘Blowin’ follows and showcases Roden’s blues soul vocal ability. Very reminiscent of Free it places Roden in the same bracket as Paul Rodgers, high praise indeed but more than deserved. ‘In A Circle’ features a great horn arrangement by David Wadsworth and some stellar playing by Ronnie Taylor (Alto) and Chris Gower (Trumpet). ‘I’m On A Winner With You’ closes side one on a more gentle note but without lowering the quality.
Side Two leaps out of the speakers straight away with the classy ‘Mama Roux’ from the pen of Doctor John Creaux. Once again Wadsworths horn arrangement is top notch. The following ‘Desperado’, a cover of the Eagles classic, is far superior to the original and Roden nails it as his own, giving it a soul and blues feel that the composers could never have managed. I was lucky enough to see Roden perform this song live without any accompaniment whatsoever to a packed house at his comeback gig in the nineties. To say you could have heard a pin drop would be an understatement. Billy Sherrill’s ‘Too Far Gone’ and another John Cartwright track ‘Send It To You’ close the album.

Roden is in my opinion, along with Frankie Miller, the most under rated of British singers from the seventies. A style which encompasses rock, blues and soul to name but three he really should be mentioned in the same breath as Paul Rodgers and the like. A couple of years before this release Roden had been touted as Ian Gillan’s replacement in Deep Purple such was his standing amongst other musicians. Quite why he has never achieved the level of success his ability deserves in quite frankly beyond me.

© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM January 2011
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About Martin Leedham

Music critic, Horse Racing Tipster, Hapless Dreamer, Defender of the Underdog
This entry was posted in Album Reviews, Blues, Classic Rock, Music, Music Reviews, Rock and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Album review: The Jess Roden Band – Keep Your Hat On (1976)

  1. neil storey says:

    A nice appraisal… good to see the flame is kept alive!
    For more info on JR and soon to be released news, check out http://www.jessroden.com
    NS

  2. Thanks Neil. I’ve always loved Jess’s voice since I first heard it on Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler album. His first ‘comeback’ gig at the old Robin was one of the most emotional nights I’ve ever witnessed. I saw him with the Humans several times including one night in Banbury when there was a sadly low turnout and the guitarist was a little worse for wear but Jess played it like it was Madison Square Garden or something. Its a great shame he has lost interest in singing as he has a natural talent that most would die for.

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