Jess Roden

Vulpes Vulpes's picture
What's it called?: 
Hidden Masters 6 CD Set
What does it sound like?: 
In these days of retrospective worship for many of the old-school blue eyed soul and country rock artists basking in the rediscovered Americana glow of recent years, it's hard, upon encountering an artist who excels in that sphere, who can also belt out a great pop-psyche ditty, and casually carries muscular rock singing proudly into "hear every syllable" territory, to fathom his relative obscurity amongst today's musical enthusiasts. If you got to the end of that sentence you'll know that I think Jess Roden will be a true revelation to many who hear his work for the first time following the release of this outstanding retrospective set. The breadth of musicians scattered across these six discs is astonishing; Art Neville, Robbie Kreiger, John Densmore, Alan Toussaint, Paul Kossoff, Jaki Whitren, and the list goes on. If you appreciate finely sung, beautifully played rock and soul, and if you love to hear a band playing live who really have a groove, get this and wallow in it.
What does it all *mean*?: 
It means that thankfully there is a wealth of recorded music out there that relatively few of us have heard but which deserves a new audience to appreciate it, and it's not yet lost to the world while projects like this exist. Fill yer boots!
Goes well with …: 
Single malts, good reds, good friends, low lights, long drives, lazy afternoons, early hours and slow baths. Not necessarily all at the same time.
Might suit people who like …: 
Boz Scaggs, Robert Palmer, Free, Garland Jeffreys, The Eagles, Ry Cooder, Lowell George, The Meters, The Isleys, Elton John, Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Comments

I especially enjoyed the 'brave' first sentence. The only thing that's stopping me is a lack of £65. How long do you think I've got before they all sell out?

If you can rustle up half a dozen friends who enjoy Jess Roden and sharing "slow baths", it could be yours (or about a sixth yours) in no time at all!

Not in 'real' life anyway.

that they'll be available later on in another, less expensive and not-quite-so-luxurious form. The big 12x12 booklet that comes with the Hidden Masters version is a thing to behold, but if the sixty-five quid price tag is too high, I'm sure you'll eventually be able to explore the thing that matters most, the music, from a smaller form factor. You'll just need a magnifying glass to read Jess' commentary on his career!

Because I can't 'read' either. I just have to learn patience from Carl!

Based on your review this sounds like a bit of a no-brainer for me. Plus I've gone 5 decades not being explicitly aware of his work, I think I can wait a few months for a bargain.

Hi *tiggerlion*

The sets are selling well but, you've probably got another couple or so months before we sell out. I'd budgeted (planned) for this edition to be completely gone by Christmas but, the way its going, I'd say probably October... but... IF we catch a few more really good reviews then... who knows!

I spotted somewhere else that someone was planning on waiting 'til the set was available on Ama*on...

Just wanted to be clear to anyone who picks up on this thread. This edition will never be made available via that entity.

In time to come – and only after this 1st edition sells out and, so long as we feel there is sufficient demand – we'll consider a 2nd edition. And that will be the originally planned 5CD set, packaged in a clam-shell box so, obviously, not as lavish as the set thats currently available.

Best
Neil.

That means I've got a bit of time to save up. I'll be placing my order in due course.

I've bought or been given a few box sets over the years and this Hidden Masters set has to be the most handsomely packaged of the lot.
It's exemplary. Neil Storey has done a marvellous job in pulling it all together and should take a bow.
I don't think there's any immediate danger of it selling out. There still seemed to be plenty left, but the Pledge Music site seems to have dropped the numbers sold that was being provided previously.

The revelation for me has been the live stuff from The Alan Bown Set. Jeez, they were good! I loved The Jess Roden Band so much I remember weeping when they split up, something that has never happened since. They were everything I ever wanted in a band. Tight, soulful, brassy and with the best singer this side of, well, anywhere! The live version of Can't Get Next To You has been my constant companion since the day it was released and it's great to hear it, crystal clear, on here. The packaging, the extra lithographs that I paid for, the personal messages from Jess, all of it has made me happier than anything I can remember for ages. Wonderful.

Disc Six: The Sub's Bench.

Has anyone else discovered this magnificent song.? JR with among others Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi. I had only listened to a couple of songs that were made available as a download and so hadn't heard this until today. So good I had to play it a second time as soon as it ended. How could this lie hidden since the summer of 1995?

Gary Grainger on guitar had not long come out of Rod Stewart's band. A bunch of tossers in braces and waistcoats yakked all the way through the gig. I swear there wasn't more than 10 of us in the room who knew who Jess was. I bought the CD and Surrender has been a constant ever since. Great, great song.

There is a very positive review in the new edition of Uncut (including praise for Surrender To Your Heart) by Mick Houghton. However I think there is a mismatch between the review and the marks out of ten. They give it 8/10, but I guess this was a decision by a sub-editor, because if they gave it higher marks they'd have to have given it more space on the page.
"remarkably potent, a truly fine singer and an underrated songwriter" suggest MH liked it a lot.

The re-released Bob Marley album, Kaya, gets a full page and 8/10 too. Kaya was just about Marley's weakest album as I recall. I haven't heard it for many a long year, but I doubt my opinion would have risen is that time. To suggest there is an equivalence of quality between the two is a nonsense. Either Marley has been marked up or Roden down.

What it really illustrates is the stupidity of assigning supposedly absolute levels of quality.

about the star rating system. This months Mojo gives a 5 star review to the magnificent John Murry The Graceless Age album. Good as the album is I really think 5 star reviews should be saved for the absolute best stuff out there. The Jess Roden set certainly deserves more than an 8/10 in my book.

on the 2 hour drive home tonight. Just wonderful. They remind me of The Faces, not musically but in the fact that they just SOUND like they are having a great time and want to invite every member of the audience to the party. Two of my brothers saw them in Southampton and got invited back to Bruce Roberts house. Appropriately, they remember very little of the night, or the next day. Or how they got home. Or where they lived.

this thread and had a twitter conversation with him last night. He (and Jess) are blown away by the interest and reaction. Neil says he may come onto our site and answer questions and update on new projects.

I fear he's set the bar rather high to start with!

Hello Everyone... (finally got logged in here!).

First off... properly caught up with the thread now... and... huge thanks so much for all the amazing comments; way back when (it is well over 3.5 years and counting when we began this) the thought of reviews – good or bad – was a very, very long way from our minds! Many, many months later when we actually held the final *thing* in our hands – and, trust me, there is a wealth of difference in doing that to either seeing the design on a computer screen or as a manufacturer's print out just as much as there is a radical difference to hearing either the first run of a tape transfer (of a track long forgotten) or listening to how it began to sound in the mastering room – to actually... physically... holding it, turning the pages or putting the finished CD in the player and... pressing play.

And, even at that moment, there was never a conscious thought of... ohhh, this is pretty good; it's going to get some good critiques.

I mean, we hoped (we really did) that people would like it but, quite honestly, it was such a relief – after so many false starts and delays and what have you – to actually have the finished copies that even then, the idea of proper, official reviews were still a long way away from our radar.

For Jess and I, what really mattered was that those who had bought in to the project (via the pre-ordering on PledgeMusic) liked what we'd pulled together.

So... this really is a heart-felt thank-you to everyone who has said so many wonderful things.

The *official* reviews are starting to land now; Shindig have been complimentary – albeit in a fairly brief manner and Uncut – you've probably all seen. 8/10 isn't to be sniffed at altho' I was a bit confused as to why they listed *no extras*. I mean, just how many previously unheard tracks do they want before saying, yes, actually, this is awash with *extras*..! (Personally I'd have thought that approx 50% previously unreleased would have counted as *extras* but... maybe thats just me). Unfortunately (and this is in defence of Uncut), they wanted to review off of white-label CDRs + PDF artwork print outs as opposed to waiting on the arrival of finished copies. So, perhaps they didn't quite get the full picture.

No matter... 'cos, again, its what you guys are saying that matters to Jess and I.

Second... from reading the previous posts... looks like there could be a few questions..? If so... fire away!!!

Best
Neil.

I have a couple of questions. Can you give us the low-down on whether or not we can expect to see the rest of Jess' back-catalogue re-issued in the near future?

Is there any mileage in licensing it all and doing a Volume 2?

Who owns it all, and what favours do we have to do to get it out on release again?

Will I ever get to own a full copy of Seven Windows?

Why are there Japanese copies of some albums available, but not European or US ones?

Er, that'll do from me...

....oh, and buy the way, thank you for getting it all together thus far. :)

Vulpes Vulpes... cracking screen name..! OK, here we go...

(a) depends on what you mean by the near future! These kind of sets take quite a bit of time to pull together + since HiddenMasters is only a tiny organisation, we're not in the position of saying... ok, let's manufacture (say) 2,000 copies; chuck 'em all over to Ama*on and let nature take care of the rest. We simply don't have the resources to do that. Consequently, the pre-ordering element (for us) is absolutely critical plus, by working hand-in-glove with the people over at PledgeMusic, that means we can offer those who would like a few more chips with their pie, something a bit special. And, thats impossible if one's 'route-to-market' (hateful marketing-speak phrase) is via Ama*on. This is a little cottage industry and... that's the way its gonna stay! Basically, it all adds up to: yes, both Jess and I rcognise there is a market out there but, our bottom line is... if we're going to do it, it *must* be done properly – whereby no one but no one feels short-changed.

The short version of the above answer is... yes, we do have plans! They are in their infancy so, please do bear with us!

(b) Volume 2... hmmm... Not an entirely unexpected question. Not an easy answer tho'. We need to go back to the very beginning: when we first started talking about the set (the one you now have), Jess' bottom line was "There was always a reason why stuff got left on a shelf; therefore, IF we're going to do this, then first we have to recognise the tunes were of a time which means we mustn't mess with them using all the current technology at our disposal and second, IF something stands up which was left on the shelf, that's fine... but, if it still sounds rubbish... back on the shelf it goes".

So... is there more? Yes, of course there is... its fairly well documented that we had a great deal to choose from. Does *enough* stand up given the above? Yes... some does but... it simply didn't fit for a mass of reasons... we either had better versions or sonically it was out of whack or... just a heap of reasons.

The other thing we were really conscious of was this. There are certain acts / artists (many of whom who are no longer with us, sadly) whose catalogue is constantly being mined with every last take being issued. So... as a just one example; we had 7 or so takes of 'Love Will Grow' to think about. We settled on the one you've heard (in which the vocal breaks down) as an example of a song developing in the studio. We could have included a heap of other songs in the same way; early versions of this, that or the other but... in the cold light of day, it was all about repeated listening... and, quality.

Short answer to your question is: maybe in time but not in the format that the Anthology is..!

(c) In the main, the masters are all now Universal. Jess' home demos are his own property... the Seven Windows recordings (as an example) were originally licensed to EMI (Holland) but rights reverted long ago and are owned by their originators, MacWire Music in New York.

(d) Seven Windows – we do have, in progress, plans for a full-scale audiophile reissue of the Seven Windows project. The set will include the album fully re-mastered on 180gsm vinyl + a CD version + Jess' home demos + tracks that were completed but not issued as well as outtakes etc. It'll be the same 12" casebound book format as The Anthology and we're hopeful it will be ready to go through the pre-order process this year... possibly early part of next. It'll undoubtedly be a very limited run (maybe even as low as 300 copies)...

(e) Japanese reissues... simply down to how Universal work in Japan. I do have to say, its a bit of a mystery to me in terms of what they re-master from because not everything (by a long chalk) exists in the Universal archives in digital format.

Best
Neil.

Neil, it's good of you to join us here. I'm still making fresh discoveries on the discs. The Butts Band tracks (I'd never heard anything by them previously) have been a revelation. Really great music.

Is there any good news on the Bronco live BBC session disc?

Was I'm Ready the sole collabaoration with Paul Kossoff? I'm sure I heard / read that there was a version of Molten Gold which had Jess as lead vocalist, and not just as a back up singer to Paul Rodgers. Is that myth or reality?

I'm sure I can think of a few more questions later.

Hi Carl,
Am glad your set finally reached the correct destination..!

(a) Bronco... aha..! Yes, at one point (quite a time back now) we did have Bronco 5Live at The BBC pretty much ready to go. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Richard had completed a first-pass master too. Jess had designed the sleeve and... Crikey, this is going back a bit!

OK, so why did that get shelved? A number of reasons... firstly, our concentration had to be on The Anthology. It sort of... got a bit stuck for quite a while... (for reasons I'd prefer not to elaborate on)... and so, it meant all our energies had to be focused on bringing it home. Second reason, within that period of time, Jess (in particular) went off the idea a bit... Similarly, I did as well – because I felt IF we were going to delve back into the Bronco era, then we had to do it in a much more inclusive manner than simply issuing the live 5track CD. In doing that, to me, it felt a bit sub-standard and... almost as if we'd be issuing it for the sake of it. And that didn't feel right.

Fast forward... we're in the Sonic Overlord's darkened room (the studio) not many months past and working on the mastering of the Bronco tracks we're including on The Anthology.

Anyhow, after a number of hours of listening to Richard fiddling, lots of stop-starting of reels, sonic adjustments and so on, he's ready to roll... and we settle back and listen. Here, I should point out, its not for nothing that he was relatively recently, nominated for a Grammy for his work with The Who. He presses play and... quite how he's done what he has is not for me to say... but Jess sat there (we both did), shaking our collective heads in astonishment. He's pulled out something from those tapes which led Jess to say, "Blimey, its like listening back to what I had in my mind at the time. There was always really subtle stuff going on but, back then on the finished records, it somehow seemed to have been lost. But this... this is exactly how it should sound."

At which point, Richard turned around and said. "OK... I'd really love to work on all the Bronco stuff... because those re-issues that were put out a couple years back were not very good. Plus, there is all the other stuff that Neil's found. What do you think?"

Suddenly the idea of a full-scale Bronco re-appraisal (for want of a better word) had re-appeared with thumbs collectively upturned.

Ideas are in their infancy but... yes... in short, there will be a proper Bronco set (to include the BBC Live recordings) in time.

(B). Jess and Koss... we were in two minds about Molten Gold. And, while its lovely, we decided that a harmony vocal didn't fit – similar situation existed with Jess' version of Losing Game with Sandy Denny. Its a great song, a fantastic performance but, for the set we were preparing, didn't fit.

Is there a version with Jess singing lead..? I certainly didn't come across one (if I had then the choice may well have been different). I don't believe one exists and Jess has never mentioned it... but... I know someone who would, definitely, know (altho' he's never mentioned it either) – so worth the double-checking for sure.

There are other Koss / Jess tracks... from memory, a number of takes of The Lady Is A Tramp. I'm pretty sure one or two takes have cropped up on a Koss compilation.

More questions? I'll do my level best to answer!

Best
Neil.

Is Jess still in touch with any of the JRB?

Hi Niall.

Yes... we're both very much in touch with most of the JRB.

Webbo (Steve webb) nowadays hangs his hat in Finland; he's lived there for a number of years and still tours / gigs ferociously. He was in the UK approx 18 months ago and Jess and I had dinner with him... still very much the same... in tip top form! He's been really supportive of this whole project as well.

John Cartwright – lives mainly in France (in the Dordogne and curiously, very close to where I used to live up to about 5 years ago altho' strange as this is, we never did bump in to each other there!). Pretty regular e-contact and Jess and I had lunch with him about 9 months ago as John's also back and forth to the UK pretty regularly. Like webbo, still very much the same... hair considerably longer... seem to remember our lunch went on most of the afternoon!

Ronnie – absolutely; still in Southampton... very much in touch and I last saw him back end of last year. Had word from his wife a couple weeks back (Ron's not so hot on emails!) saying he was absolutely thrilled with The Anthology. We used some of his scrapbook images (tour itinerary) and a few other things illustratively in the set.

Pete – still in Southampton also but I haven't seen him in a very long time. I believe Ronnie sees him from time to time.

Bruce – not sure but believe he's also on the South Coast.

Chris – haven't been able to find him altho', very recently, was given a contact e-address for someone who might know how to reach him.

Billy – nowadays in Nashville I believe.

Best
Neil.

You know how blown away I am by what you've done. I won't go into too much detail but my closest friend and huge JR supporter has been having a really, really rough time. He's effectively homeless, has some horrible mental issues and is generally at the end of his tether. This project has been all he wants to talk about. With that in mind, I'm going to order a copy for him. He has nothing to play it on, at present, but we'll see what we can do. All the best to you.

I'm already looking forward to the Bronco material and the Seven Windows project; when I mentioned the boxed set to a mate recently, his ears pricked up at the mention of Jess' name, and the first thing he said was, "Is there any Bronco stuff on there? I loved Bronco.". He'll be chuffed to hear your update!

It's really good of you to take the time to answer all these questions.

It's a nice bit of icing on the overall project.

Its a pleasure... this is a really exciting time not just for the JR project – so, hardly a chore to answer queries (!) – but also for what has become our little label as well.

The connection with everyone who, themselves, have become a really important part of this *thing* we're building has been really amazing. And, one of my most favourite moments throughout the entire process happened a day or so after the finished sets arrived at HM HQ. We were running out sheet upon sheet of labels (and have gone through so much printer ink in the process we denuded our local shop of stock) and noticed that one person who'd ordered a copy lived about 1/4 of a mile away. Do we post it or... do we package it up and walk over? Its a fine evening so... why not.

Find the house and knock on the door. No answer altho' the lights are on. Damn, maybe they're having dinner and we're really intruding. Maybe there is something really good on tv and they don't want to be interupted. But... the knock had been heard and... eventually someone is heard coming to the door. It opens a fraction of an inch. "Hello... we have a package for you..!" The door opens a bit further and... the package is handed over.

The recipient gasps when he sees the label. "Fantastic, I've been waiting for this for so long..." "They've only just arrived and we've been packaging them up, saw you were nearby and thought, we're only just around the corner so thought it'd be quickest to nip it over". 'That's really fantastic." He starts to caress the box in which the set is packaged... crikey, maybe he's a cardboard fetishist. But no, because he goes on to tell us, "I can't wait to tell the wife it's arrived... you see... she and I met at one of Jess' gigs many, many years ago, so she's going to be as delighted as I am."

Neil.

Mine arrived today. Very quick delivery. Great packaging. About to dive in and enjoy. Obviously a labour of love. 257/950 by the way.

I received an e-mail from Hidden Masters / Pledge Music that says:
If you live in the London area, on Tuesday May 30th, you might like to tune into BBC Radio London 94.9 and listen to the Robert Elms show starting at 12 noon. Jess is scheduled to appear for an interview starting at 2.30pm - the first time in 30 years Jess has been on the radio. If you miss it, the broadcasts can still be heard for 7 days at. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7kb/broadcasts/2013/05.

And thank you Neil and Jess, the set is bloody fantastic. Better start saving for the Seven Windows project going off Hidden Masters we`re in for a treat.

is this lot. I am almost giddy with excitement..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aIft448lBA&sns=em

Jess was on Bob Harris last night talking about his career and playing music from the Hidden Masters compilation.

You can hear it on the iPlayer of course:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wqtf

It starts about 30 minutes from the end. They finish by playing Surrender To Your Heart which I mentioned in a post above.

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