Iguana

Iguana was an English brass-rock/funk band from Southampton that released a self-titled album on Polydor in 1972. They later became the backing band for singer Jess Roden.

Members: Ronnie Taylor (alto saxophone, tambourine), Bruce Roberts (guitar, vocals), John Cartwright (bass, drums), Chris Gower (trombone, tambourine), Pete Hunt (drums, congas), Don Shinn (keyboards, 1971-72), Steve Webb (guitar, 1972-?)


The roots of Iguana trace back to Southampton beatsters The meddyEVILS, which evolved into The Quik with guitarist John Roberts and drummer Peter Hunt. After three 1967 singles in that configuration, Roberts formed The Globe Show, a septet featuring saxophonist Ronnie Taylor and drummer John Cartwright. After two 1968/69 singles, Roberts called back Hunt and formed Iguana with Taylor, Cartwright (on bass), and trombonist Chris Gower.

Iguana briefly included Dada keyboardist Don Shinn, Hunt’s cohort in the mid-’60s beat combo The Soul Agents, which served as the 1965-era backing band for a young Rod Stewart.

Iguana released their singular album in 1972 on Polydor (U.K.) and MGM-subsidiary Lion Records (U.S.) It contains nine group originals, including “Price of Love,” “Ron’s Tune,” “Grey Day Lady,” “Celluloid Samba,” and the band’s theme song (a treble). The album was produced by Tony Waddington (Toby Twirl, Kathe Green, Dana Gillespie, The Flirtations). Original copies of the LP feature a gatefold cover with brief liner notes that state “IGUANA IS LOOMING.” The brass was recorded in one take with no overdubs.

Four years after the album’s release, the Iguana lineup reappeared as The Jess Rodan Band, backing the singer on the 1976/77 albums Play It Dirty . . Play It Class and Blowin‘.

Gower joined the Rumour Brass, which augmented Graham Parker and the Rumour on the 1977/78 albums Stick to Me and The Parkerilla. The Brass notched further credits with Supercharge, Carlene Carter, Rachel Sweet, Kirsty MacColl, and Shakin’ Stevens.

Taylor backed numerous soul-funk and reggae acts during the late ’70s/early ’80s (Beckett, Kenny Brawner & Raw Sugar, T.S. Monk, Merchant). In 1979, he cut an album with Brit-funksters Honky.

Cartwright partnered with singer/songwriter Jaki Whitren and they recorded as a husband/wife musical duo, releasing the 1982 album Rhythm Hymn on Elektra, followed in 1983 by International Times on self-press Living Records. In November 2016, the couple died within two weeks of one another from a heart attack (Cartwright) and cancer (Whitren).

Iguana was first reissued on the Russian archival label Expertise Records (Marsupilami, East of Eden, Ancient Grease, Zakarrias, Skin Alley). During the 2010s, it received four further pressings on Flawed Gems (Sweden), Big Pink (South Korea), and Vivid Sound (Japan).


Discography:

  • Iguana (1972)

Sources:

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