Mention the name Mungo Jerry to anyone who was following the UK pop charts in the early 1970s and instantly people will remember the band for their charismatic lead singer Ray Dorset and their feelgood pop hits In The Summertime, Baby Jump and Lady Rose.
Cherry Red’s 5 CD Clam shell box set celebrating Mungo Jerry’s years on Dawn Records from 1970-74 digs a bit deeper into the bands back catalogue than the usual hits compilations reissuing the bands first five albums.
Comprising 81 tracks, the set features five original Dawn albums, Mungo Jerry (1970), Electronically Tested (1971), You Don’t Have To Be In the Army (1971), Boot Power (1972) and Long Legged Woman (1974), all with additional single tracks and rarities.
Ray Dorset’s earthy vocal tones are distinctive throughout the collection, the band’s sound comprises a variety of styles including rock n roll, folk, pop, blues and skiffle.
Their 1970s album debut captures the band in all their rawness, prior to chart success kicking off with a n energetic rendition of Arthur Gunter’s Baby Lets Play House. The track sets a precedent of where the bands roots are in rockabilly and skiffle and although they would go on to explore other styles, this would essentially be the sound they would return to on some of their future recordings.
Electronically Tested, their second album, and their biggest seller, features three Mungo Jerry hits, In The Summertime, Baby Jump and Lady Rose. There is also a blues laden rendition of I Just Wanna Make Love to You complete with fuzz guitar, harmonica and Dorset’s earthy vocals making this one of the most outstanding covers featured on the set.
The title track of You Don’t Have to Be in The Army captures the band in a more Dylan-esque mood but the overall sound of the album is still pretty much live in the studio, up-tempo and feelgood catching the band at a high point of creativity after their chart success, while demonstrating diversity in the blues of Pidgeon Stew, the rockiness of Northcote Arms and the singalong fun of a There’s a Man Going Around Taking Names.
Boot Power feels almost like a tongue in cheek parody of the early 70s, reflecting the rocky riffs and experimental prog rock of their chart contemporaries. Dorset’s vocals are gentler in the main of this release but there are still some memorable tracks including Open Up, She’s Gone and Lookin’ For My Girl and the album rendition of Lady Rose.
The final album of the collection, 1974’s Long Legged Woman is a non-album singles collection bringing together hits such as Alright Alright Alright with lesser known tracks such as Summer’s Gone which is very much a sequel to In The Summertime.
Complete with original sleeve artwork and a detailed booklet depicting single cover art and notes by Alan Clayson, Mungo Jerry – The Dawn Albums Collection 1970-74 is a deserved celebration of one of the most underrated bands of the early 70s and certainly a collection that will be treasured by any serious fan of that eras music. Long live Mungo Jerry!