Jess Roden – Beginnings -The Alan Bown Set

There’s been a few mentions about the recent Alan Bown compilation featuring Jess recently, so I thought I’d do a small piece on it. Enjoy!

You probably have to be of a certain age to remember the English soul club scene of the 1960’s. but for those of us who discovered the mighty larynx of Jess Roden a few years down the line, as his solo career was flowering, the journey of discovery back in time is a rewarding one.

If you missed Jess’s debut on the London stages first time around, this well-packaged release on Sequel records should get the adrenaline flowing, and satisfy Roden completists.
Entitled The Alan Bown Set – Emergency 999, it gathers together the first 5 singles, complete with B sides, plus the rarity, “Jeu de Massacre” (the killing game) a bona-fide oddity written by Jaques Loussier and included on the soundtrack of the movie of the same name, which previewed at the Cannes film festival.

Boasting 21 tracks, this compliation also gives us rare demoes, and  a live set, originally released on the London swings-live at the Marquee club LP – a peculiar release that saw The Alan Bown Set  and Jimmy James get a side apiece!

Jess joined the Alan Bown Set  in time for their second single, and remained with them throughout their name change to The Alan Bown! -which signalled their metamorphosis from soul band to psychedelic pop outfit. This set contains the song “Mr.Job” , which signalled their new direction, but had never been released until now, though it proved to be a useful debut for Midlands band Jigsaw to launch their career.
It was the rise of the discotheques that eventually put paid to the popularity of soul bands like The Alan Bown Set.  Clubbers could now dance the night away in the company of Sam and Dave, and James Brown. For the Brits, it was a case of adapt or die, but the Summer of Love was never really going to be the answer to their prayers.

So if you want to immerse yourself in a steamy Marquee, or Flamingo and catch the buzz that was around in those early days, this CD is your time machine, come on in and listen to Jess’s youthful, vibrant soul, hinting at the catalogue of classic performances  that were ahead of him.

Kev Moore


35 Responses to “Jess Roden – Beginnings -The Alan Bown Set”

  1. supersizeme Says:

    This is brilliant Kev, never heard of the band but you’ve done a great job of writing up on them.. this ought to be published.

  2. thanks, supe, that’s very kind. i have a thing about great artists who don’t get the recognition they deserve.

  3. supersizeme Says:

    Yep, I’ve noticed that Kev and I say keep it up, you’re doing a really good job of it.

  4. allan bishop Says:

    nice one kev theres a book out about the alan bown written by jeff bannister the keybaord player really good stuff its called before and beyond the alan bown set some good stuff about jess its published by
    banland publishing cheers all allan

  5. HELP Where can I get the new cd emergency 999 Im getting desperate

  6. hilary, you can find it on ebay, but if you have no luck let me know and i’ll do you a copy.

    • jess mollart Says:

      Hi Kev,
      Im a huge fan of Jess Roden and am trying to source some of the early stuff..Live at the Maurqee etc.. is some of it available on CD?
      Ive just got the best of CD …its tragic Jess doesnt gig any more,Id pay any amount to hear the best/unique voice in the UK. i play some of his stuff to some young bands now and again and they all say…Who is this guy?? Does he want to join a band?? Ho Ho.
      Hoping you can put me on the right track…Cheers Jess (wa share the same name, I wish Id got half his voice)

      • Hi Jess, glad you found us and thanks for the comment! Yes, the Marquee show is on “Emergency 999”-The Alan Bown Set – A Sanctuary CD – Catalogue No. NEMCD483, along with all their singles. There’s also rumours in the wind of a far more comprehensive revisiting of Jess’s entire career, so keep on the look out!

  7. Thank you so much that would be great. Ive looked on Ebay and also tried to order it from record stores here in Newcastle and Dublin but no luck. I knew all the band back in the sixties it will bring back so many good memories Have got records but all on vinyl but obviously not Mr Job Thanks again Kev .

  8. Its no trouble Heather, I’ll try and sort it this week, and post it when Im in the UK this weekend.

  9. Thanks Kev – I followed the Alan Bown Set through the 60’s and early 70’s. Great band! Great sound! Have all their LPs except the Live at The Marquee with Jimmy James & The Vags. which was knicked in about 1970. if anyone knows where I can pick one up I’d love ’em for ever! Do you know if AB is still on the ciruit? All the best.

  10. Hi Guys hope all is well i have just aquired the Alan Bown second album with Jess singing all the tracks Jess left the bown just as the record was recorded and Robert Palmer who joined the band re recorded the songs and they bought it out under the name Kick Me Out, the jess one was only bought out in the states its 40 yrs old been copied from vinal with some demos on it if anyone wants a copy let me know and ill do them one

    cheers allan

  11. Nice one Allan! A copy would be just the job! Hope you’re well. BTW mate, you’re around the Derby area aren’t you? I’m not sure which end of the A52 your allegiance lies, but I’ve just recorded a song for The Rams which has been getting a bit of airplay/publicity in Derby and is currently available for download and hopefully out on CD shortly.


  13. Joe Eastlack Says:

    I was wondering, the third Alan Bown lp, just titled The Alan Bown, was the lp that was re-released and re-recorded with Robert Palmer o vocals. Can the original with Jess Roden be found? I’ve been looking everywhere and come up with nothing. If you know of it’s whereabouts, please let me know.
    Thank you, Joe Eastlack

  14. Keith Butler Says:

    I am trying to get hold of the album Alan Bown set Live at the Marquee, I used to follow the band when they did gigs in the north east of england, and loved this album, if I could get it on cd it would be even better.
    Many thanks Keith Butler

    • Only just found your comment in the spam, Keith! You can get “Live at the marquee” as part of the “Emergency 999” CD . Its available on Castle Music/Sanctuary records – the catalogue number is: NEMCD483

  15. quelle bonne info, merci pour ce post .

  16. Stan Haldane Says:

    Good to see an interest in Jess Roden and see mention of him with Alan Bown. I was the bass player with Alan Bown and remember the exciting days when we met him and invited him to join us. He was very young but when he got on stage there was no lack of feel in his voice, and when needed he had such power. The live album at the Marquee had to be recorded in one take which gives an edge to it because we couldn’t make any mistakes. The end result was probably one of the best live albums recorded at the time with an “electric” atmosphere to it .
    Thanks for your interest.
    Stan Haldane.

    • Stan –

      Thanks so much for your memories of those days, and what a pleasure to welcome you on here! I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but I have to add my thoughts – the live album at the Marquee really does capture an electric moment in time. Recordings like this are priceless, in my humble opinion.

  17. Tony Boulton Says:

    Great read – not least of all Stan’s comments above. I followed The Alan Bown Set back home in North Staffs. I was there whenever they appeared at The Place in Hanley, saw them at the Torch, too, I think and once at a hotel in Burslem called the George (with Robert Palmer at that point on vocals). Would love to get hold of the book.

    • Thanks for the comment Tony! – and nice to know they played at The Place in Hanley – I didn’t know that. I played there myself a few times back in the 80’s. What a legendary venue.

  18. Jeff Bannister Says:

    Well done Kev for adding this blog.
    The book The Alan Bown Set – Before and Beyond (mentioned above by Tony Boulton) is now available from Reading Collectors Centre (see their website for contact details). The book contains the full story of Jess Roden’s career with the band. Also included are many photos of the band with Jess. There are various tracks on featuring Jess on lead vocals. One in particular, which is outstanding is entitled Perfect Day. Hear also All Along the Watchtower, arguably the best version of the song although not released as a single by Alan Bown.

    • Thanks Jeff! In a curious coincidence, as I was over in the UK yesterday for a show this weekend, A friend gave me copies of those very songs! Wew were debating the “Eddie Kramer” connection – and the similarity of the watchtower arrangement to the later Hendrix version – did Eddie take this idea to Jimi after working on it originally? Who came up with that arrangement?

      I’ll definitely check the book out, and urge other readers here to do so!

      Cheers, Kev

      • Jeff Bannister Says:

        All the songs The Alan Bown Set recorded were rehearsed and arranged before we went into the studio. Eddie Kramer was an excellent engineer but did not arrange any of our songs. It was Alan Bown and John Anthony Helliwell who created the brass arrangements for All Along the Watchtower. On one of his first gigs in England, Jimi Hendrix actually supported the Alan Bown Set in Guildford Civic Hall and he later remarked in an interview that our arrangement of All Along The Watchtower inspired him to record it. Although we recorded the song before Jimi Hendrix, our record company deemed it to be ‘uncommercial’ and declined to release it as a single.

      • Great to get the inside track on that Jeff, thanks! So the version Hendrix recorded is a direct inspiration from The Alan Bown Set. No surprise that a record company completely mis-defines the meaning of the word ‘commercial’! 🙂

  19. greig bremner Says:

    hi my first time on this fab sit having whatched the allan bown set more times in norfork than i realy can remember it was great to get a mint cope of london swings last month cost a load of dosh but worth it is alan still about is there a web page with him ect i mised jes in the robin 2 in birmingham is he going to gig in 2011? keep up the good work thanks.

  20. I played in a now forgotten band in late 60’s that was booked to support The Who at Bath Pavilion ( around April ’67) The Who didn’t turn up but Alan Bown Set filled in. Awesome gig, we were all impressed. Did it again later with The Who.
    Searching the net for memorabilia (posters etc)

  21. George Crocker Says:

    Hi all you Alan Bown Set fans. Do any of you remember them playing at The Purple Fez Club in Plymouth, circa 1967? The club was later called The Van Dyke Club.

    • Hi saw the AlanBown Set twice at the Purrple Fez around 1966 and 67. Fantastic. Think they might have appeared at the Majestic in Union st as well, around the same time. Seem to remember them having a good following in Plymouth at the time. Hope you are well.


  22. I would be pleased if someone could offer advice on how to obtain a CD copy of “The Alan Bown” with Jess Roden on vocals, as issued in the US.

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