BRONCO – COUNTRY HOME (ILP 9124)
Well, now, let me see, I reckon it was late 1969. My musical landscape was undergoing yet another massive upheaval. Brought up on blues, soul, beat and pirate radio (I
was 17 in 1967), my times seemed to be always changing along with the sounds.
Leaving the pop stuff to my friends I was heading for territories unheard. I should never have made eye contact with the diminutive chick dressed in a black trouser suit and white feather boa, her dark hair cut in a sweet mod cut. We fell in love smooching to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Fast Forward to a few months later and she left home for Teacher Training College and so I became a weekend student hanging around the Student’s Union and meeting new and strange people. But I digress.
How we ended up on a Saturday night in this huge old building time has erased from my memory banks . The place was heaving with hair, greatcoats and patchouli. We bought beers and wandered through the halls and rooms before falling in on a hushed audience sat on the floor listening to a singer armed only with a guitar. In the lobbya baroque trio were playing music I had never ever heard before -I later discovered that this was Amazing Blondel. In another room, a DJ was spinning Creedence Clearwater. Or was it the Stones, or both?. What a scene.
I remember so clearly climbing a huge staircase to the second floor and dropping in on a band whose sound grabbed me instantly . They were called Bronco. We found a place to rest. Through the smoke haze, infused with the sweet aroma of you know what, some new sounds floated around us. The songs were clever, slightly country inflected, but with a nice edge. The guitarist had a tasty restrained style but it was the singer who made it work. What a voice, soulful yet reflective, he had a look of Jim Morrison and for most of the performance, as I recall, he was sat on a chair. The atmosphere was intimate and, along with the singer’s leather trousers, very cool and very impressive.
Monday morning found me breaking down the doors at Violet May’s to see if Bronco had a record out.
Country Home kicks off with the jaunty ‘Civil of you Stranger’ with some crisp acoustic guitar and a bright feel. ‘Love’ follows. Great lyrics and a dark feel. Next up is a countryfied tune ‘Misfit on your Stair’, not my favourite track, although the piano break saves the song but I should warn you there are handclaps. Redemption is soon at hand with the staggering ‘Bumpers West’, a song of longing. The bass line rolls this along into a nifty break with harmonies and has an amazing fade out while the guitar noodles. ‘Home’ has a cool harmonica and a bluesy feel. The great tunes continue with the epic ‘Well Anyhow’. A heavier feel here with a great riff and the harmonica is wailing. It’s here that the lead guitar of Robbie Blunt shows what he can do as the song builds to a climax before dropping down and Jess Roden’s vocals send a shiver down the spine. Awesome piece and way ahead of its time. The album closes strongly with the intense ‘Time’.
Country Home reflects the bands influences from the West Coast, particularly C.S.N. and especially Young and features one of Britain’s finest unknown singers, Jess Roden. With Robbie Blunt and Kevyn Gammon on guitars, John Pasternak on bass and Pete Robinson on drums, Bronco produced one fine but sadly overlooked record .
Well I liked ‘em anyway.