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Mungo Jerry

The Albums 1976-81

Review by Gary Hill

I'm sure there are a lot of people who know Mungo Jerry for one tune, "In the Summertime." As this five CD box set shows, there is a lot to this act beyond that song. I'm guessing that a lot of folks who don't know about their other songs, also think that Mungo Jerry is the name of a person. It's actually a band fronted by a man named Ray Dorset.

Those looking for that one hit should probably turn their attention elsewhere. These albums were recorded later than that song, and it doesn't appear here. That said, there are a few tracks that make musical allusions to it. It's interesting to check out the evolution of the sound of this group. The earliest stuff is rooted in the same kind of roots music that really made up that hit, along with some old time rock and roll and other sounds of that era. They later moved into more standard hard rock of the 1970s, making their way into reggae, disco and even punk directions at times.

The whole set includes the five CDs (each with bonus tracks) all in cardboard sleeves that reproduce the original album covers. It also features a large booklet, and it's all encased in a clamshell box. It should be noted that the song titles are included here (often seeming to be missing apostrophes that would appear to be needed) just as they appear in the set. This is a great way to catch up on the career of quite an interesting and diverse musical act that has gone largely unnoticed outside of one song.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1 - Impala Saga
             
Hello Nadine

A down-home roots music vibe is on display here. This is a fun cut with a lot of energy and some great hooks.

Never Mind I've Still Got My Rock 'N' Roll
This is a fairly short folk music kind of thing. It works well.
Ain't Too Bad
This rock and roller is very much a Chuck Berry kind of thing. It's a lot of fun. A bit of "In the Summertime" shows up in some of the guitar riffs on this.
Too Fast
Here they takes us into a bouncing Jerry Lee Lewis type of number. Again, this is fun and energetic.
Ain't Gonna Work No More
This rock and roller is more 1970s styled. It has a lot of energy and is fun loving for sure. The spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis is alive a bit on the second half of this cut, too.
Impala Saga
There are hints of what would later be called "punk rock" on this cool cut. It's a bit raw and really tasty. It's unusual. The instrumental section on this is more classic rock based and quite cool.
Bottle of Beer
Old time rock and roll is on tap here. This is a bubbly rocker that is intoxicating and strong. I really dig the piano on this.
Get Down on Your Baby
This old school rock and roller is another that's fun. It's so retro in texture (even for the time it was released) and has a cool groove. The harmonica lends some interesting flavor to it. I also dig the retro guitar sound here. There is a lot of old school blues built into this number, too.  This cut is almost eight minutes long, and they use that extra space to really jam.
Hit Me
More of a 1970s hard rocking sound is on display here. I can make out some hints of things like Focus in the cut at the same time. This is packed full of energy and oomph. I dig the synthesizer part later in the track. This is another fairly extensive cut at about five and a half minutes of music.
Quiet Man
A bouncy old time rock and roll vibe is on display here. It's an entertaining track. It has a cool shuffling groove to it.
Never Mind I've Still Got My Rock 'N' Roll (Reprise)
As advertised, this brings us back to the earlier cut. I like the harmonica and mellow groove of the song.
Bonus Tracks
                    
Let's Go

Little Richard and Elvis Presley are jamming together on this rocking cut.

Don't Let Go
Bouncy and fun, this combines old school rock and roll with a folk music kind of sensibility.
Give Me Bop
This is more purely old-school rock and roll. It's a bit odd in terms of the way it seems to cut in and out. I'm not a big fan of this one.
English Girls
I like the folk rock tinged with psychedelia vibe on this number. There is some country in the mix, too.
Hello Nadine (Demo Version)
I think I like this demo version better than the one that landed on the album. It has more of a mainstream soft rock meets pop music feeling to it. It works quite well.
Just Wanna Dance with You
More of a high energy rocker, this is a lot of fun. It is more contemporary to the era in which it was released than a lot of the other stuff here is. It's quite an effective tune.
Disc 2 - Lovin' In The Alleys Fightin' In The Streets
               
All That a Woman Should Be

This has much more of a 70s rock vibe than the other album did. There are hints of funk in the mix. It's a strong way to start the album with an accessible and meaty rocker.

I Could Never Start Lovin' You
Imagine mixing Mungo Jerry's roots with something close to the bluesy rock sound of classic Nazareth and you might be close to the sound of this. It's another that's catchy and energetic. There is some almost disco bass work built into it.
Lovin' in the Alleys An' Fightin' in the Streets
The Nazareth reference is even more valid here. This is a killer rocker that drives with a great energy and really manages to scream out like crazy at times.
The Grease
Closer to the sounds of the previous album, this has a lot of old-school rock and roll built into it.
Dragster Queen
Now, this one is seriously old school rock and roll driven. It's high energy and so classy. It's just a fun romp. I'm not overly crazy about the vocal workout mid-track, though. Still, when the guitar rejoins, things get back on track.
Heavy Foot Stomp
Speaking of old-time rock and roll, this one is firmly set within that genre. It's quite entertaining.
Gone to Malaya
Now this takes things in a completely different direction. The vocals make me think of The Animals a bit. Musically this lands more in line with high energy 1970s rock. There are even some hints of prog built into this. It is just such a strong tune.
Can't Keep It Down
There is a rather funky 1970s groove at the heart of this tune. It's another real winner with such a meaty, gritty kind of vibe. The lyrics seem to be about what you might think they are about since this is a song all about sex.
Lovin' in the Mornin'
With some bluesy slide guitar, this is another that lands in that bluesy Nazareth vicinity. It's a nice change and a strong rocker.
Just Can't Say Goodbye
Take the roots sound of the first album and merge it with 1970s rock, and you'll be in the general direction of this cut. It has some cool slide guitar and catchy hooks. There is a percussion and vocal work out mid-track that brings a different angle to the piece.
Bonus Tracks
 
That's My Baby
Elvis Presley is on display with this number. It's really a full-on tribute to the "king of rock and roll."
Sur Le Pont D'avignon (Single Version)
The "la la la la" part of this song makes me think of the theme song to the "Banana Splits" television show. This is a bouncy and fun little number.
Dragster Queen (Single Version)
For some reason when this gets turned out into this single version I can make out some hints of Lynyrd Skynyrd on it. It is a lot of fun, either way.
We're Gonna Boogie
Old time rock and roll, this makes me think of Led Zeppelin to some degree, but with some George Thorogood in the mix. I love the harmonica, and particularly the part where it seems to trade riffs with the guitar. It's shocking that this is a bonus track because it really should have made the album proper as far as I'm concerned. It's that good. It's a real powerhouse tune.
I Do What I Want
Roots rock and roll that make me think of Creedence Clearwater Revival makes up this catchy and energized tune.
Disc 3 - Ray Dorset and Mungo Jerry
          
Sugar Mama

I dig the old school rock and roll guitar riff on this tune. The whole cut has a catchy groove. There are even hints of a punky kind of edge to this.

Hello It's You Again
Coming in mellow, this works out to a mid-paced tune. Somehow this feels a bit (musically) like something that would have fit on Eric Clapton's early albums. The vocals bring a different edge to it, though. I dig this number quite a bit.
Let's Make It
There is definitely a punky edge to this cut. It's a high energy, harder rocking stomper. This is fun stuff.
Hooray It's Party Time
Down home roots music is the concept here. There is a lot of country built into this number. It's bouncy and entertaining.
Goodtime Goodtime
A raw rock and roller, this cut has a real garage band kind of vibe to it. It's not my favorite here by a long shot, but it does provide a different angle to the sound of this act.
Baby Ride My Train
A cool rock and roller, this thing is a lot of fun. It reminds me a bit of T-Rex in some ways.
We're O.K.
This catchy rock and roller has a lot of punk rock built into it. I dig the gang chorus and the killer old time rock and roll guitar solo. I'm not overly fond of the doo-wop stuff, though.
Give It All You've Got

Again I can hear some definite hints of T-Rex on this tune. It has a clean sound to the instrumental arrangement. It's bouncy and fun.

Get Up An' Dance
This cut (as would seem to fit the title) is a Mungo Jerry excursion into disco. It's danceable and fun.
Can't Get to You
There is some serious fun on display here. This reminds me a bit of Terrapin Station era Grateful Dead, too. I really dig this tune a lot. It is so tasty.
Shadow of the Trees
A folk rocking texture is on display here. This makes me think of Van Morrison to some degree.
Bonus Tracks
               
We're O.K. (Demo)

The punk edge seems more pronounced on this demo.

Shadow of the Trees (Demo)
The kazoo is an interesting flavor on this demo. The Van Morrison elements seems even more prevalent here.
Disc 4 - Six A Side
            
Can’t Get Over Lovin’ You

The sound of this cut is based heavily on 1950s rock and roll. It's not my kind of thing, but it works pretty well.

What’s Her Name What’s Her Number?
Another old school rock and roller, this is catchy, but perhaps not the most compelling thing on display here.
Hello Nadine
A version of this led off the first album. It works well here, perhaps better than it did there.
It’s A Secret
I like this rock and roller a lot. It has some great hooks and guitar fills. It's a lot of fun.
Lana
This high energy cut gets a great showing here.
Sur Le Pont D’avignon
I love this bouncy little tune. It's a lot of fun.
Feels Like I’m In Love
Another fun number, this is just what you would expect from Mungo Jerry. It's a party in a tune.
Summertime Holiday
Speaking of "party in a tune," this is a summer party that's quite entertaining. There is plenty of roots music built into this thing.
Hello It’s You Again
Here we get a repeat of this cut. It's effective here, too.
All That A Woman Should Be
This rocker is so classy. It has a lot of glam rock and some that Nazareth kind of vibe we've heard from these guys at various points. I dig the talk box stuff.
Gone To Malaya
We get another occurrence of this tune. I'm just as enamored with it as  I was the first time around. This is a killer number.
Dancing In The Street
An energized rocker, this one works well. It has a classic 70s rock sound that's informed by vintage 50s rock and roll.
Bonus Tracks
            
Why D’ya Lie To Me

Fast paced old school rock and roll, this features catchy hooks and meaty slide guitar. There is some cool piano work, too.

She Had To Go (The Insiders)
Full on old school rock and roll is the order of business here. I dig the harmonica, but the whole piece is strong. There is definitely a bit of an Animals thing going on here.
Rollin’ And Strollin' (The Insiders)
Another old school rocker, this again has some cool harmonica work. It's a rambling kind of number that's fun.
Forgotten Land
There is a lot of country music built into this number. It's another solid one, but not a highlight. A children's choir is heard on the tune.
New Way of Life
I dig the hard rocking sounds on this cut. It's one of the standouts on the whole set. It is high energy and quite tasty. I really love the instrumental break later in the track.
Night on the Town
Here they change things a lot with a full reggae treatment. This is an effective and quite fun tune.
Really Had a Good Time
A Jerry Lee Lewis styled rock and roller, this is a live recording and really works well.
Disc 5 - Together Again
                  
Together Again

A pretty mainstream and straightforward rocker, this is solid. It's not the kind of thing that really stands out, though.

Rockin’ on the Road
Funk and disco merge on this cut. It has some straightforward rock in the mix, too. This has some cool hooks and more meat than the previous one had.
Marguerita
Somehow this rocker feels like something that Bruce Springsteen might do. The vocals don't sound at all like Springsteen, though. I suppose Bob Seger would also be a valid reference point. I dig the energy and the saxophone on this number.
Heart of Fire
This feels a bit like 1970s Rod Stewart. Even the vocals sound a bit like that. This is a cool rocker that works quite well.
Knocking on Heavens Door
Here they turn their attention to the Bob Dylan tune. They bring a bit of a reggae edge to it, bringing it closer to the Bob Marley version. I like this a lot. Then again, you can't really go too wrong with this piece of music.
Stay With Me
Mungo Jerry take us into disco-land again here. This is bouncy and fun. It also feels very dated in retrospect.
Miss You Tonight
Mainstream 1970s rock is on the menu with this classy tune. It is definitely a standout piece that really rocks.
Come Deeper
The bass line on this is in full disco mode. It's also very cool. Yet the guitar sound leans toward more hard rock sounds. This lands in the dance music vein, but it's also quite meaty. It's a strong cut, really.
Something on My Mind

I love the classic rock sound of this. It has more of that Bob Seger kind of edge to it. The cut does get more of that disco thing mid-track. They bring it back out to rock for a while after that before going to full disco format for an extended movement.

How Can I Live a Lie
There are definite balladic elements at play on this mellow rocker. This is such a classy piece of music. It's another highlight of the set. It manages to rock out despite the fact that it is built around a rather ballad-like approach.
Bonus Tracks
                  
Lets Get Started (Short Version)

Reggae and funk are merged on this cut, creating quite an intriguing musical landscape. This is bouncy and so cool. For some reason the vocals make me think of Billy Idol just a bit. This is actually one of my favorite pieces on this whole box set.

Hazel Eyes
Disco and space rock elements are both on display here. There is a 1970s rock element here, too. This is another intriguing cut that's among the best material here. It's clearly one of the most different. The vocals call to mind Eric Burdon in some ways.
Hey Whats Your Name
Hard edged, powered up 1970s rock sounds are at the heart of this. It has some great guitar riffs, catchy hooks and a killer instrumental arrangement. Horns bring a lot to the proceedings, but the piano is great, too. All in all, this is an entertaining piece that works really well. There a real disco and funk workout later in the track.
Keep Me Up All Night
Dramatic and meaty rocking textures are on display on this killer tune. The guitar soloing on this is both tasty and tasteful. This is another standout track.
9 ‘til 5
Another set well in the classic rock style, this has some cool lyrics. It's a mid-tempo number and an effective one at that.
My Chair
This is very much the classic tune from Mungo Jerry, "In the Summertime," but with different lyrics. Don't get me wrong, it's not precisely the same tune, but it is sure close. It's also a lot of fun.

 

 
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