Bronco (UK)


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-72)

- Robbie Blunt -- guitar

- Kevyn Gammond -- guitar

- Johnny Pasternak (RIP 1986) -- bass

- Pete Robinson -- drums, percussion, harmonica

- Jess Roden -- vocals

 

  supporting musicians: (1969)

- Jeff Bannister -- piano

- Clifford T. Ward -- 

 

  supporting musicians: (1971)

- Ian Hunter -- backing vocals

- Trevor Lucas -- backing vocals

- Mick Ralphs -- guitar

 

  line up 2 (1972-73)

NEW - Dan Fone -- vocals, guitar, keyboards (replaced Bobby Blunt)

- Kevyn Gammond -- guitar

NEW - Paul Lockey -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Jess Roden)

- Johnny Pasternak (RIP 1986) -- bass

- Pete Robinson -- drums, percussion, harmonica

 

 

 

- The Alan Bown (Jess Roden)

- Band of Joy (Robbie Blunt, Kevyn Gammon,, and Pete Robinson)

- Broken Glass (Robbie Blunt)

- The Butts Band (Jess Roden)

- Chicken Shack (Robbie Blunt)

- The Rivets (Jess Roden)

- Jess Roden (solo efforts)

- Shakedown Sound (Kevyn Gammond, Johnny Pasternak, and 

  Jess Roden)

- Silverhead (Robbie Blunt)

 

 

 


 

Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Country Home

Company: Island

Catalog: SMAS 9300
Year:
 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1519

Price: $35.00

 

It's amazing how many talented English groups never really got a chance to breakout to a larger audience.   Add the short-lived Bronco to that extensive list.

 

With his departure from The Alan Bown Set, in 1969 singer Jess Roden decided to pull together another band.  Recruited for the new outfit were ex-Band of Joy guitarist Robbie Blunt and drummer Peter Robinson, guitarist Kevyn Gammond, and bassist John Pasternak (the latter two had previously played with Roden in Shakedown Street).  As Bronco, Roden's past successes helped the band quickly sign with Island Records.  The group quickly recording some initial material with producer Guy Stevens., but unhappy with the results they returned to the studio, debuting with a 1969 non-LP single:

 

- 1970's 'Lazy Now' b/w 'A Matter Of Perspective' (Island catalog number WIP-6096)

 

Following the single the band made their album debut with 1970's Roden-produced "Country Home".  With all five members contributing to the writing chores (Roden serving as chief writer), the results were pleasant, rural rockers that seemed to highlight the band's interest in pursuing the archetype hippy lifestyle - did they seriously spend time living in the ramshackle structure shown on the cover and inner sleeve ?   

 

inner sleeve

 

Roden certainly had a nice enough voice and the rest of the band were more than proficient players, with guitarist Gammond and bassist Pasternak proving the standout performers.  Unfortunately, at least for me the album's biggest shortcoming came in terms of energy and enthusiasm.  Clearly enamored with The Band-styled Americana, tracks like 'Bumpers West' (with some nice CSN&Y-styled harmonies), the jazzy 'Love' and 'Home' were individually quite nice, but packaged together the album simply never generated a great deal on energy.  Over the years I've listened to this one dozens on times and in most cases about two, or three songs in it all starts to blend together, becoming background music.  The one exception has always been the closer 'Time' which has always reminded me of a mix of Buffalo Springfield and Free.  Killer tune and the album highlight.

 

"Country Home" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Civil Of You Stranger   (Robbie Blunt) - 3:55

Breezy, country-tinged number seemingly about the joys of hitchhiking ...  Always loved the acoustic guitar riff.  The song has always reminded me a bit of a British version of The Band.  rating: *** stars
2.) Love   (Jess Roden) - 4:27

Pretty, almost jazzy ballad with Roden showing off a fragile aspect to his normally rough and tumble voice.  rating: **** stars
3.) Misfit On Your Stair   (Kevyn Gammond - Clifford Ward) - 3:08

Nice Pasternak bass line and barrelhouse piano, but the strange mixture of country, jug band, and English music hall ultimately didn't do a lot for me.   rating: *** stars
4.) Bumpers West   (Jess Roden - Suzy Worth) - 5:47

Probably the album's prettiest tune, 'Bumpers West' sounded like a cross between The Band-styled Americana and CSN&Y-styled West Coast rock.  Beautiful melody and the harmony vocals were gorgeous - CS&N would have been envious.  Always wondered what the tune was actually about.   rating:**** stars

(side 2)

1.) Home   (Jess Roden) - 4:08

Pretty Band--styled Americana ballad.   Nice harmonies.  rating: *** stars
2.) Well Anyhow   (Johnny Pasternak - Jess Roden - Kevyn Gammond - Pete Robinson - Robbie Blunt) - 6:59

The album's lone group composition, the blues-rocker 'Well Anyhow' was one of the collection highlights.  Opening up with a great Pasternak bass line, the song slowly, but steadily picked up speed and energy, showcasing blistering Blunt and Gammond solos about three  minutes in.   rating: **** stars
3.) Time (So Long Between)   (Jess Roden - Robbie Blunt)  - 3:19

Again, blame it on my old and beat ears, but every time I listen to the rocker 'Time' it reminds me of a mash-up of a top-notch Buffalo Springfield tune and something out of the Free catalog.  Mesmerizing tune that makes you wish they had done more in this vein.   rating: **** stars

 

The band toured the UK ad the US in support of the album, but it did little commercially.

 

For anyone interested, Roden has quite a bit of Bronco stuff on this website: http://jessroden.com/bronco.html 

 

 

 

 


Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Ace of Sunlight

Company: Island

Catalog: SMAS 9309
Year:
 1971

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5577

Price: $25.00

Yeah, these guys are totally unknown in the States; not that they were ever a name brand in their native UK.  Singer Jess Roden was probably the most recognizable member having been a member of The Alan Bown Set, though the other members had played with an impressive collection of UK bands.

The group's sophomore album "Ace of Sunlight" was also the first effort to see a US release. Co-produced by Richard Digby Smith and the band, the use of an outside prodicer didn't result in a major change to the band's laidback, country-rock influenced sound.  With Robbie Blunt, Kevyn Gammond, and Jess Roden all contributing material, songs like 'Time Slips Away', 'New Day Avenue' and the ballad 'Discernible' were professional and occasionally even likeable, but the album lacked much in the way of originality.  Roden had a decent voice and the players were all technically proficient (guitarist Gammond turned in some nice leads throughout - check out his tasteful work on 'Sudden Street'), but the collection basically came off as an attempt to mimic various US bands - little bit of CSN&Y ('Amber Moon'), touch of Poco, and to spice it up a sprinkling of Led Zeppelin (the atypical hard rocker 'Woman' with Roden doing his best Robert Plant impression).  To my ears it's always been one of those funny albums where individual songs were quite impressive, but as a whole the album just didn't make much of an impression.  Take 'Time Slips Away' as an example.  Great rocker with some really nice harmony vocals.  It started slowly and built to a roaring conclusion - the volume actually seems to increase across the six minutes.  Every time I hear it I think 'nice track'.  Five minutes later I can't remember anything about it. As you've guessed, the album attracted little attention in the States and even fewer sales. (Needless trivia - Fairport Convention's Trevor Lucas and Mott the Hooples' Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs provided support on a couple of songs.)

"Ace of Sunlight" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Amber Moon   (Jess Roden - Suzy Worth)  - 4:02
2.) Time Slips Away   (Robbie Blunt) - 6:05
3.) Some Uncertainty   (Kevyn Gammond - Clifford T. Ward) - 3:39
4.) Woman   (Kevyn Gammond - Clifford T. Ward) - 4:18

(side 2)
1.) New Day Avenue   (Jess Roden - Suzy Worth) - 6:39
2.) Discernible   (Kevyn Hammond - Suzy Worth) - 3:49
3.) Sudden Street   (Jess Roden) - 6:23
4.) Joy and Pears   (Jess Roden - Suzy Worth) - 3:39

Unfortunately the band's career took several big hits.  Driving to a concert the band was involved in a nasty car accident which seriously injured Pasternack, Robinson, and several members of the band's touring crew.   

Having recuperated, the band undertook a US tour which was meant by indifference.   After a quick UK tour, in early 1972 Roden tendered his notice in order to join The Butts Band, followed by  a solo career.

With Blunt next to leave, the remaining members decided to continue on.  Recruiting guitarist Dan Fone and former Band of Joy singer/guitarist Paul Lockey, the revamped band signed a contract with Polydor, releasing a third album - 1973's "Smoking Mixture".

 

 


Genre: country-rock

Rating: ???

Title:  Smoking Mixture

Company: Polydor

Catalog: 2383 215
Year:
 1973

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

"Smoking Mixture" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Steal That Gold
2.) Tennessee Saturday Night
3.) Tell Me Why
4.) Attraction

 

(side 2)
1.) Southbound State Express
2.) Turkey In The Straw
3.) Zonker
4.) Blueberry Pie
5.) Strange Awakening

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