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RAY DORSET INTERVIEW : PART 3

Mungo Jerry 1971

BABY JUMP' WAS CHOSEN AS THE FOLLOW-UP SINGLE TO 'IN THE SUMMERTIME'. WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND THIS?

After the decision not to run with 'Have a Whiff On Me', 'Follow Me Down' was also considered, Barry decided on 'Baby Jump' after I had come up with the new lyric, I had no title and suggested that I call the song 'Baby Jump' but I was unsure, Barry said that it was a good idea. The groove that we created on stage with this one was tremendous and we also used to play it at the rock‘n roll clubs, Barry had been to one of the gigs at the Northcote Arms and was excited about the dance that was going on down there, he got some guys and girls to come to the studio and be photographed to show how it was done. In fact it was at one of these gigs that I came up with the idea for the song. Somebody called out for me to play 'Brand New Cadillac' but I didn’t know it, although I had heard the song, so I just played the riff on the guitar and everybody in the band joined in and I made up and mumbled some words, it developed from there. It was also good that it was totally different from anything else that we had recorded so it would surprise the critics who thought that we would most probably follow up ITS with something similar. It was a good move.

THE BAND'S SECOND ALBUM, 'ELECTRONICALLY TESTED' CHARTED BUT WAS FOR ME, A LITTLE OVERDONE IN THE STUDIO ON SOME OF THE NUMBERS. EVEN THOUGH IT HAD SOME GREAT TRACKS ON IT, I DIDN'T FEEL THAT IT WAS AS VARIED AND SPONTANEOUS AS THE FIRST ONE?

I preferred this album to the first one, but I think that the record company should have included 'Lady Rose' on the album as they did on the eight-track cartridge, it then would have had at least three hit singles on it as 'In The Summertime' was on it too. I disagree that it was overdone in the studio; I also think that the songs on it would appeal to a wider listening public than the first one. Lady Rose on Top Of The Pops 1971

'LADY ROSE' WAS INCREDIBLE AND THE RECORDING OF IT IN MY OPINION, REALLY CAPTURED THE FEEL OF THE BAND AND DEFINITELY THE MAGIC THAT THE BAND UNDOUBTEDLY HAD?

I wrote this song on my twelve-string guitar very quickly on my return from the first U.S.A tour and domed it in my maisonette and it definitely had some magic. When we recorded it in the studio it was done pretty much the same except that Colin added his distinctive piano style to it and John played what I think was the perfect bass line for the track. I played all of the guitars, percussion and harmonica and of course did the vocals; I don’t know why Paul did not contribute anything to the record.

IT HAS BEEN DOCUMENTED THAT YOU WEREN'T TOO KEEN ON PAUL'S COMPOSITIONS, ALTHOUGH THEY DID APPEAR ON MOST OF THE ALBUMS AND SINGLES. IS THAT TRUE?

I had nothing against Paul’s songs in general, in fact I really liked 'Hey Rosalyn' but I wasn’t keen on 'Black Bubonic Plague', nor was Barry. It was Paul’s attitude that I was not happy with, as I said earlier about him saying to Barry that he would leave the band if he didn’t get his songs on the B-sides, I felt that we were being blackmailed. Also, his songs seemed to take the soft folk route whereas I felt more obliged to go for a harder rock route, bearing in mind that we also had a good following on the rock ‘n’ roll circuit, and a more contemporary pop/rock direction because that was the trend at the time, and I thought that we should try and cater for this kind of audience on an international level as the people that bought 'In The Summertime' around the world would only to a small degree be interested in listening to recordings of jug band/skiffle type music, what works in a live environment doesn’t often translate to private listening and sales and chart positions of the first album prove this.

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER OF THE WEELEY FESTIVAL?

I had a good time at the festival hanging around on the red bus with Rod Stewart, he gave me a copy of his latest album which included the great hit, 'Maggie May', we filmed the promo to 'You Don't Have To Be In The Army' and the gig was OK. T.Rex, The Grease Band and our old friend, the late Gerry Lockran amongst others were also on the bill.

JOE RUSH TALKS ABOUT YOU GOING TO SEE COUNTRY JUG IN THE EVENING AFTER THE WEELEY FESTIVAL. YOU BECAME INVOLVED WITH THEM, WRITING AND PRODUCING THEIR ONE AND ONLY SINGLE, 'I'M SORRY'. DID YOU ENJOY THE ASSOCIATION?

I didn’t go to see them play after the gig, maybe the other guys did, I had to get away but I always very much enjoyed working with, and seeing Joe’s band, they had a brilliant sense of humour and were all good personalities. Weeley Festival 1971

THERE WAS NO SIGN IN A LET UP IN THE HEAVY TOURING SCHEDULE. DID THAT GO SOME WAY TO INCREASING TENSIONS WITHIN THE BAND?

The success of 'In The Summertime' around the world took us to places where we would never have dreamt of going and to venues that had audiences expecting some other kind of music to the type that we were playing. Trying to adapt tended to increase the conflict within the band. Being the front person of the group I feel that I have to do my best to entertain and please the audience that I am performing for so I have to try to 'read' them and to the best of my ability give them something that I think that they would like. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, but you have to keep on smiling. There was an awful lot of travelling but we were young and we could handle it, we were riding on a crest of a wave, it was ego problems that caused the trouble.

THERE WAS TALK IN THE MUSIC PRESS OF A LIVE ALBUM BEING RELEASED - A RECORDING OF THE HOLLYWOOD FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE(S). WHAT HAPPENED?

The multi tracks must be lying somewhere in the vaults of Pye records. On Stage at the Weeley Festival

THE THIRD ALBUM, 'YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE IN THE ARMY' WAS AN IDEA TO REPLACE THE LIVE ALBUM THAT NEVER WAS WITH AN LP OF TRACKS MAINLY RECORDED LIVE IN THE STUDIO. THE FINISHED ALBUM SOUNDS LIKE GREAT FUN, WAS IT?

The 'Army' album was not an idea to replace the live recordings. After beginning work on the album with new songs, we came to a halt because things were not quite gelling we decided to take a break and go to the pub, we all came back in a good mood and I suggested that we set up as we did at the Master Robert and play some the songs that we had done in the clubs live in the studio, warts and all, this we did and I think that we managed to capture the atmosphere really well. Yes, it was good fun and the laughs that you can hear at the end of 'Ella Speed' confirm this.

THREE TRACKS - 'SHORTY GEORGE', 'OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN' AND 'YOU GOT ME DIZZY' - WERE RECORDED AT THE SESSION BUT INCREDIBLY TO ME, DIDN'T MAKE IT ON TO THE ALBUM. WHY WAS THAT?

I don’t think that there was enough space to get them onto the album without compromising on the amount of volume level that was available on a 12inch vinyl LP.

SOME OF THE PRESS WROTE THAT THE SINGLE, 'YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE IN THE ARMY TO FIGHT IN THE WAR' MAYBE SPELT THE END FOR THE BAND, PROBABLY BECAUSE IT WASN'T AS BIG A HIT (No.13) BUT I THOUGHT THAT IT WAS FANTASTIC?

Most of the critics failed to understand the point that I was getting at with the lyric, I think that they were thinking that I was referring to terrorist activities when in fact I was referring to general prejudice, and things that can happen to the everyday person such as loosing your job for being late for work.

JOE WAS BACK GUESTING ON THE RECORD AND HE ALSO PLAYED AT THE WEELEY FESTIVAL. I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT HIS WASHBOARD PLAYING AND SHEER PRESENCE COMPLIMENTED THE BAND GREATLY. WAS THERE ANY ATTEMPT TO LURE HIM BACK ON A PERMANENT BASIS?

Joe came back into the band for several tours and gigs in the mid seventies when we had the French and German success with 'Hello Nadine' and 'It's a Secret'. He also played the double bass on stage for the rock‘n roll stuff and added a good happy visual presence to the show with his antics such as standing on the bass a-la the Bill Haley bass player and he also did a four legged dance around the stage with a pair of boots on his hands that he would borrow from a member of the audience.

THE BAND WERE BOOKED FOR AN AUTUMN TOUR WHICH INCLUDED JOHN LEE HOOKER?

Yes, it was planned to do a theatre tour in the UK with John Lee Hooker but we were told that he was not well and we went on tour with another blues artist, Errol Dixon, this was the tour that Dave Lambert was also on.

I THOUGHT THAT MUNGO HAD REALLY CRACKED IT BY THEN, GREAT LIVE SHOWS, TRULY FANTASTIC IN THE STUDIO, RECORDING SOME GREAT BLUES AND EVERYBODY PLAYING THEIR PART. MOST BLUES FANS LAUGH WHEN I SAY THAT MUNGO JERRY WERE THE BEST BLUES BAND THAT I HAVE EVER HEARD BUT DON'T WHEN THEY HEAR THINGS LIKE, 'THE SUN IS SHINING' OR 'MILK COW BLUES'?

We were more country blues than straight electric British blues than most of the public were familiar with at the time, more specialist, and we managed to capture a very authentic feel and sound.

1971 Tour PosterBeat Instrumental MagazineJapanese Tour Programme

THE TOUR OF THE FAR EAST, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND FROM WHAT I HAVE READ AND HEARD SOUNDS LIKE THE BAND COULD DO NO WRONG, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF IT?

It was a long tour and posed many problems, the Japanese audiences were very polite but because of the success of 'In The Summertime', we were thought of as a 'pop' band and I think that our brand of music came as a shock to most. We broke attendance records in New Zealand previously held by Elton John and had big audiences in Australia but on most of the gigs we were supported by Edison Lighthouse who not only were a pop band with a big hit but also a band that really did not exist outside the recording studio as all of the music and singing was done by session men and the band that we were gigging with was only Edison Lighthouse in name, this was not good for our credibility with the rock press.

The problems within the band were also a debilitating factor, Colin and Paul wanted to spend time on the beach and not do the interviews as requested yet complained about me getting all of the press, though I never expected them to fire me on the return from the tour, but it wasn’t all gloom and doom, we did have a lot of laughs and met some interesting characters.

AGAIN ON THE BAND'S RETURN FROM A FOREIGN TOUR, SOMEONE WAS SACKED - YOU! PAUL AND COLIN HAVE BOTH HAD THEIR SAY BUT YOU HAVEN'T SAID TOO MUCH ABOUT IT. THE PRESS SAID IT WAS BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO BRING IN A DRUMMER AND THEY DIDN'T. WHAT HAPPENED?

I was told by management, record company and publisher to keep my mouth shut about the firing and say that the split was due to musical differences, I think that I should have had my say as it was generally thought that I was on an ego trip and this was not the case, it wasn’t even in my mind to leave the band, so I was quite shocked by the decision.

Paul was quite vain and manipulative and Colin also had a high opinion of himself but I could handle this as I had known him for quite some time and learnt a lot from him but we did a U.K tour and Dave Lambert was also on it and Colin and Paul got friendly with him and must have hatched a plot for him to replace me in the band and therefore have more control as they would become the longest serving members of the group. I had no idea at the time. I did want to augment the band with a drummer but I have gone into this earlier though the idea had not become a strong one until I was on the tour.

I REMEMBER CHATTING TO YOU AT YOUR HOTEL IN NEWCASTLE IN 1996 BEFORE YOUR APPEARANCE AT THE RECORD FAIR THE NEXT DAY AND YOU AMAZED ME BY SAYING THAT YOU WISHED THE BAND HAD NEVER BROKEN UP. I ALWAYS HAD IT IN MY HEAD THAT YOU WERE GLAD IT HAD BROKEN UP, MAINLY SO YOU COULD MOVE ON AND DO OTHER THINGS?

I think that it was wrong for the band to split when and how it did, the differences should have been sorted out, we could have included a drummer/percussionist in the line up and gone forward and work on becoming a respected album and concert act, we definitely had the platform to do this and we together with our management/production were all learning about the mechanics of the music business. We could have made our own individual way later. Despite all of the problems that I have had throughout the years trying to maintain some kind of profile within the business in the end it worked out OK that I was fired from the band as I was able to do a lot of things as 'Mungo Jerry the solo artist' because I wrote the songs and sung them, was the front person on stage, so when there was a request to go to some country or other for a TV show for example, I just had to get on a plane with my guitar and get it done without any hassle.

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