Monday, 3 August 2015

"Country Home/Ace Of Sunlight" by BRONCO (2010 Beat Goes On CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Turn Your Bumpers West..." 

Despite their stellar line-ups and quality songs - England's BRONCO came and went without too many people noticing. So it's nice to see this superb sounding remaster on BGO celebrate their short but illustrious career.

UK released October 2010 - Beat Goes On BGOCD 946 (Barcode 5017261209467) breaks down as follows (72:57 minutes):

1. Civil Of You Stranger
2. Love
3. Misfit On Your Stair
4. Bumpers West
5. Home
6. Well Anyhow
7. Tim (So Long Between)
Tracks 1 to 7 are their debut album "Country Home" released November 1970 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9124. The famous double-album label sampler compilation "Bumpers" on Island Records in late 1970 took its name partially from Track 4.

8. Amber Moon
9. Time Slips Away
10. Some Uncertainty
11. Woman
12. New Day Avenue
13. Discernable
14. Sudden Street
15. Joys And Fears
Tracks 8 to 15 are their 2nd LP "Ace Of Sunlight" released July 1971 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9161

The outer card-wrap pictures both albums while the 12-page booklet has excellent liner notes by MICHAEL HEATLEY that includes rare photos of the band, a history and interviews. The remaster is fabulous - great clear sound by ANDREW THOMPSON - lovely detail and power where it's needed - a top job done.

Sounding not unlike a more rocky version of Matthews Southern Comfort - the group featuring guitar hero and lead vocalist JESS RODEN, ROBBIE BLUNT and KEVYN GAMMOND on guitars (Blunt went on to be Robert Plant's principal sideman) with JOHN PASTERNAK on Bass and PETE RIOBINSON on Drums. Robinson was the original drummer with Band Of Joy way back in 1966 while Mick Ralphs (who joined the group for the 2nd LP) would of course became the main man on the sticks with BAD COMPANY.

In fact when you listen to the rambling and hard-riffing "Well Anyhow" it's hard not to hear those Free and Bad Company comparisons. But the songs were often softer than that - least not of all "Bumpers West" who lyrics titled that beloved 2LP sampler set "Bumpers" at the end of 1970 (lyrics from it title this review). Roden often wrote the softer songs like "Love" and "Home" while "Time (So Long Between)" which ends the 1st album is a neither here nor there hybrid of Rock and Folk.

So why didn't they click with the public? What's clearly missing is that killer single - that one song that would get them noticed. There was a moment perhaps when it might have happened in the fabulous builder "Time Slips Away" on Ace Of Sunlight" (written by Robbie Blunt). The track turned up on the "Meet On The Ledge - Island Folk/Rock" 3CD Box Set in 2009 and I've raved about it before (see separate review). With an edit maybe it might have gotten them radio play. The album opens with the lovely "Amber Moon" co-written by Roden with Suzy Worth while "Some Uncertainty", "Woman" and ""Discernible" all feature Clifford T. Ward in the song-writing credits. "New Day Avenue" is lovely too. The only real downer about this re-issue is that a very rare single "Lazy Now" b/w "A Matter Of Perspective" on Island WIP 6096 (issued in 1970) is not included - shame that. There is the very definite feeling of a band progressing leaps and bounds by the time they hit that 2nd album (they even supported Zeppelin at The Wembley Empire in 1971). With Roden departed, the others re-grouped and made one more album "Smoking Mixture" on Polydor in 1972 before finally disbanding.

There's a lot on here to like - and given this superlative sound quality - time to not let this rare one slip away...

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