People of a certain age will always have a soft spot for Mungo Jerry. Their biggest and best-known song, In The Summertime, was the soundtrack to the summer of 1970; the fact that it landed in the shops in 33 1⁄3 rpm ‘maxi-single’ format was tremendously hi-tech for the time. We felt particularly proud of its chart-topping success at our local school, where MJ mainman Ray Dorset’s mother worked as a dinner lady.
It’s tempting to call Mungo Jerry one-hit wonders but as the first disc of this two-CD set proves, this is absolutely not the case. Kicking off with a vibrant retake of In The Summertime, it contains freshened-up versions of forgotten goodies that immediately sound comfortingly familiar: Lady Rose; Alright, Alright, Alright and Baby Jump, to name but three.
This revisiting-past-glories malarkey is fraught with pitfalls but Dorset is on skiffle-tastic form. He tackles his old work with a lively relish, his trademark utterances (‘Chi-chi-chi… uhh! Choo-choo-choo… ahh!’) and comb-and-paper Don Partridge-isms remaining blissfully intact.
The second CD comprises nine all-new tracks and is no slouch either. I’ll Be A Hippy ‘Til I Die offers a serious dose of mutant ZZ Top rocking; the jittery I Only Had A Dollar is prime-time junkshop Elvis; the loose-limbed Going Down To Mexico evokes visions of Lonnie Donegan in a sombrero. All of which are good things indeed.