Electronically Tested

Mungo Jerry

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Electronically Tested Review

by Dave Thompson

No less than its predecessor, Mungo Jerry's second album hit the stores in the wake of a massive hit single, the lascivious "Baby Jump" -- still one of the most sexually raw records ever to land regular daytime airplay. And, again like its predecessor, the full album proved that the hit was no fluke. Indeed, while Mungo Jerry road-tested the sheer musical versatility of the still-infant band, Electronically Tested (titled for the legend found on British-made packets of condoms) hit the highway with both feet on the accelerator. "Baby Jump" and the later single "Somebody Stole My Wife" are the commercial highlights of the album, of course, the former a thread-by-thread deconstruction of a beautiful woman, the latter a rollicking tale of desertion set to a deliriously drunken boogie. The true gems, however, are a nine-minute marathon stomp through "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," laced with fuzzed guitar and hard rock growling, and, at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, "Memoirs of a Stockbroker," a wry look back on a mischievous childhood that has, with the passing years, transformed itself from comic routine to painful confessional. That same song would also title the album's U.S. release, a set that largely adhered to its British counterpart, but did succeed in shedding one of the album's finest moments, the gruesome blues "Black Bubonic Plague," in favor of "Have a Whiff on Me" and "Daddies Brew." The joyous merits of the former notwithstanding, it's a lousy exchange. A medieval melodrama that certainly puts our modern coughs and sneezes in perspective, "Black Bubonic Plague" is one of Mungo Jerry's finest moments, both lyrically and musically, and would reappear the following year as "One Legged Man in a Goldfish Bowl," from guitarist Paul King's Been in the Pen Too Long solo album, a reminder that it was the preponderance of Ray Dorset compositions on Electronically Tested that rendered inevitable King's eventual departure from the band. Though he was a far more versatile songwriter than Dorset, King's work was increasingly regarded as unsuitable for Mungo Jerry, all the more so once the hits started flying. Still, his "Man Behind the Piano" serves up another of Electronically Tested's most memorable moments, while the 1991 Repertoire CD reissue appends another King classic, "Little Louis," among seven bonus tracks drawn from period singles, B-sides, and EP releases. Of the others, three tracks recorded live at the 1970 Hollywood Festival capture the band in full-blooded flood, while the non-LP hit "Lady Rose" joins the aforementioned "Have a Whiff on Me" as a further reminder of Mungo Jerry's brilliance. With or without these additions, however, Electronically Tested stands as Mungo Jerry's all-time masterpiece, and a last gasp of rambunctious cohesion before the chaos that would scar the remainder of the band's career.

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