Mungo Jerry

The Best of the Polydor Years

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Mungo Jerry's stay on Polydor Records, from 1975 through 1980, wasn't marked by a lot of chart hits, but they did make some great records, as this CD reminds listeners. Ray Dorset led an ever-changing lineup that included Tim Green and Dick Middleton on guitars, Chris Warnes, Larry Anderson, Eddie Quinn, and Doug Ferguson on bass, and Colin Earl at the piano. Whoever was on any specific record, the songwriting was solid and the execution was superb, whether on laid-back rocking numbers like "Hey Nadine"; roots rock-style pieces like "Never Mind I've Still Got My Rock & Roll"; or screaming, high-wattage blow-outs like "Impala Saga." This 21-song CD distills down the best of the group's work across three LPs, nine singles, and four EPs -- the best moments still recalled their early sound, either stylistically or lyrically, or, as in the case of "Don't Let Go," both -- it sounds like a very self-conscious reprise of "In the Summer Time." But they also employed a much harder and more mainstream sound on their debut single for the label, the nostalgic "I Can't Get Over Loving You," with its full electric sound, engaging lead and rhythm guitar hooks, and a wonderfully catchy chorus. It hit number four in Denmark and should have done well throughout the English-speaking world, as well, in a pop culture being swept by a craze for American Graffiti and Happy Days. At one point, as on "Sur le Pont d'Avignon," they sound an awful lot like the late-'60s Tremeloes, which isn't a surprise since, at various points, the latter group's Alan Blakeley was producing Mungo Jerry; they also step successfully into Elvis Presley territory with "Feels Like I'm in Love," an original written with the "King of Rock & Roll" in mind, just a little too late to get to him, which comes out pretty compelling in the band's own hands (and was later a huge European hit for Kelly Marie); and on "Sugar Mama" they plunge back into roots rock, come out somewhere midway between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Eggs Over Easy, layers of rippling lead and slide guitars clashing and slashing over a great beat. The sound is excellent throughout, and the annotation is reasonably thorough, including a history of each song.

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