There have been so many Mungo Jerry collections available (and every one of them features "In the Summertime") that it's difficult to say where to begin, but The Early Years isn't a bad place to start. Its 17 songs are drawn primarily from the group's first three albums and the "Baby Jump" and "Open Up" maxi-singles (issued at a point when legal difficulties prevented Ray Dorset from releasing LPs). The expected hits are represented, along with the best of their LP and EP cuts right up through 1974, including songs by Paul King as well as Ray Dorset. The real treat among them is a pair of live cuts, "Midnight Special" and "Mighty Man," that give a good account of the group's appeal on stage. The concert at which these songs were cut, the Hollywood Festival, must have been quite something to behold, the skiffle-like Mongo Jerry sharing a bill with (and reportedly running circles around) Black Sabbath, Free, and the Grateful Dead. "Mighty Man," which sounds like the work of 1920s bluesman Gus Cannon reborn and rejuvenated, or maybe even Tampa Red and Georgia Tom on a good day, might just be the best cut on this collection. The sound is good, the annotation is excellent, and the budget price is just right.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder