RAY DORSET INTERVIEW : PART 7
THE SUMMER OF ’78 SAW THE BAND BECOME THE FIRST WESTERN ROCK BAND TO PLAY BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN WHEN THEY APPEARED AT THE GOLDEN ORPHEUS IN BULGARIA, WAS IT AS MEMORABLE AS IT SOUNDS?
The weather was great and so was the audience, quite a few thousand plus the several hundred million TV viewers that the concert was broadcast to. Eddie Quinn got through quite a lot of whiskey before the show and I was surprised that it was not noticeable on the live recording of the concert that was released. The 'Live In Bulgaria' album was an unofficial release and I had no prior knowledge of it until I came across a copy when I was touring in East Germany in the mid eighties. While I was in Bulgaria I was asked to play the part of a pirate in a TV programme and the other members of the band also had parts but we had difficulty with the language and I don’t think that it was ever shown, although we were paid lots of money for the job, albeit in local currency that we had to quickly spend before leaving the country as it was not convertible. Our performance at this festival opened up the doors for other western artists to play there in later years.
AFTER PARTING COMPANY WITH POLYDOR, YOU SET UP YOUR OWN LABEL AND PUBLISHING COMPANY ‘SATELLITE’ WHERE, AMONGST OTHER THINGS SAW YOU PRODUCING OTHER ARTISTS?
This was DIY time and I thought that I would like to be a producer and run a small independent record company; I started off with my own music on a very small scale and began looking for other artists and writers to work with. Boris’s (Bransby-Williams) mother and father were Liberal Party supporters and they were both at sometime, Mayor's of Farnham, where I was living at the time, they asked if I would help with some fund raising and I came up with the idea of a local band competition and I managed to get the winners studio time at a sound recording studio that had been set up by Colin Pattenden and Chris Slade (AC/DC's drummer) at Shepperton Film Studios with Ritchie Gold producing. I had the idea for a record company logo of the HMV dog urinating into the horn of a wind up gramophone but Jo Mirowski rightly informed me that this would provoke copyright problems and he came up with the logo that found its way on to the record labels, etc. This was also a fun time for me and also a great learning time as I got to see the music business from another side.
YOU ISSUED A SINGLE AS ‘THE INSIDERS’. WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR NOT USING THE MUNGO JERRY NAME?
I recorded some demos in my four track studio which was at the end of my garden, I also used to rehearse there with the band and they played on the tracks that I had already laid down. The songs were all in the blues style, we also recorded 'See You Later Alligator' and 'Back Door Man'. I had an acetate of 'She Had To Go' made and Pete Sullivan gave it to Mike Read who played it on his Radio One show, it was brilliant to hear a song that I recorded at the bottom of the garden using so little technology on national radio. We then decided that it would be good to play some club gigs for fun with a repertoire of Rhythm & Blues and I came up with the name The Insiders for the project utilising the history of the band members e.g. Boris Williams (Sadista Sisters, later The Cure), Doug Ferguson, (Camel), Dick Middleton, (Gene Vincent/Johnny Halliday), Colin Earl, (Foghat), and Bill Gillian my agent got us some good club dates and so I got some singles made to compliment this. The audiences always called out for the Mungo songs 'In The Summertime' and 'Lady Rose' which we always played later on in the set. I turned up late for a gig at the Cartoon Club in Croydon and said to the owner that I would do the next show for him as Mungo Jerry to make up for the fact that I was late as several punters had complained about the band going onstage late, and this is how I got to do so many gigs at the Cartoon. I then stopped doing gigs as The Insiders; I still have some Insiders badges somewhere.
BRIAN JOHNSON (OF AC/DC AND PREVIOUSLY GEORDIE) WAS A FRIEND WHO ‘ROADIE-D’ FOR MUNGO AT TIMES AND HAD PLANS TO BEGIN WORK ON A SOLO ALBUM FEATURING SOME OF YOUR SONGS?
Brian helped out on one or two gigs mainly as a kind of tour manager, I had first met him when Geordie, who were a very good band, supported us on some English dates, they shared our management/agents at the time. Brian came to see me at a gig at Newcastle University not long after he had joined AC/DC and asked if I would write some rock songs for him as he had been contracted by his previous management, (mine too), to record a solo album. Unfortunately this never came off because the AC/DC management did not go for the idea and came to a financial settlement with Red Bus to have the project shelved.
IN 1980, MUNGO JERRY CELEBRATED THE 1980’s WITH A SERIES OF REUNION GIGS, TELL US ABOUT THEM. WERE THEY GOOD FUN?
Myself, Colin, Paul and Bizz went out for an Indian meal in Sunbury and I suggested some reunion gigs with them together with the current line up which also included Tammi and Terri on backing vocals, Colin Pattenden was also in the band then. Travelling was a little difficult as there were nine people onstage. We played some prestigious gigs including the London Venue and the Colliseum in Cornwall. I was splitting all of the gig money equally but Paul was not satisfied that he was getting enough so he left and we did a German tour without him.
YOUR CAREER RECEIVED A BOOST WHEN A RECORDING OF ONE OF YOUR SONGS – ‘FEELS LIKE I’M IN LOVE’ BY KELLY MARIE – WENT TO No.1 IN THE UK CHARTS?
I wrote the song with Elvis Presley in mind and sang the demo recording of the song in my “Elvis” style, Barry Murray said that he could get it to him but sadly Elvis passed away before we got the demo in the post. The recording was made at Dick James studio and co-produced by the late Alan Blakely of The Tremeloes, Colin played keyboards, Pete, drums and Rick West, The Tremeloes guitarist, bass. It came out by mistake as a B-side in France, Pete played the song to a now old friend, Gerry Howson who suggested that it should be recorded by a girl and as I was using Suzi O'List (sister of Davy O'List, guitarist of The Nice) to record some backing vocals for me at the time I got her to sing it first and then Gerry suggested that we try an up and coming young girl singer that he had come across, Angie Gold, to record it. Tim Green managed to get a deal for this version with RCA in Germany but in the meantime my office, Red Bus who had heard both versions thought that it would be good for Kelly Marie to do and would give her a crack at the UK charts, she had already had considerable success in France but it was thought that the songs that she had been successful with there were not suitable for the UK market. Red Bus got the RCA release stopped and Kelly’s version was released in England with virtually no airplay. I happened to have a copy of the single with me when I was playing some gigs in the Leeds, Bradford area and I gave it to one of the DJ's to play and he asked if he could keep it as he liked it very much. He must have played it often in the clubs that he was working in and a few weeks later the record began selling on a regular basis about twenty five copies a day until about nine months later when it reached number one and had sold over eight hundred thousand copies in the UK.
A NEW MUNGO JERRY ALBUM, ‘TOGETHER AGAIN’ WAS RELEASED IN CERTAIN PARTS OF EUROPE, BUT STRANGELY NOT IN THE UK AND FOR ME, EVERY TRACK WAS A BELTER ALTHOUGH I WASN’T TOO SURE ABOUT THE WAY SOME OF THE RECORDINGS TURNED OUT AND SOME OF THE PRODUCTION?
I was again with a different manager, Cyril Wayne at this time and he had got a one-off album deal for me in Spain with some tracks that I had cobbled together from different studios. Cyril had got Roddy Matthews, who was a very good musician/guitarist, into the band and some of the tracks were recorded at Cyril’s brother’s studio in London where Roddy had been doing some production, the studio was used mainly by reggae artists and I think that OK Fred was recorded there.
IT FEATURED ONE OF YOUR GREATEST EVER COMPOSTIONS – ‘HOW CAN I LIVE A LIE’?
Thanks, I always thought that this was a good recording, it was done in Magritte Studio with some session guys when I was experimenting with ideas for a new Polydor album, I recorded quite a lot of tracks with these guys with Dan Priest, studio owner and producer, he came on the Polish tour in 1978 with us. It was here that I recorded the basic version of 'Forgotten Land'. There are some unreleased recordings from these sessions, the guys from Polydor heard the tracks and arranged for me to record with other session players at Red Bus Studios, (now famous because of all of the hits that were coming out from there, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Imagination, etc) with Ritchie Gold producing. So, I recorded again, 'Let's Get Started', 'Margarita', etc but I did not think that I could get a better version of 'How Can I Live a Lie'.
IF THERE IS ONE MUNGO JERRY ALBUM THAT I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU RE-RECORD IN ITS ENTIRETY WITH THE CURRENT BAND, THIS IS IT?
I don’t think that I could do it, and besides, I really think that the songs that I recorded at Jacobs Studio with the Woods Brothers, Colin Pattenden, would not be bettered.
ONE OF THE ALBUM TRACKS WAS A VERSION OF BOB DYLAN’S ‘KNOCKING ON HEAVENS DOOR’. DID YOU GET ANY FEEDBACK FROM DYLAN ABOUT YOUR VERSION?
Cyril said that he got news from the publishers that Bob Dylan said that it was the best version that he had heard of the song so far.
ANOTHER ALBUM ISSUED WAS ‘BOOGIE UP’, UNDER THE NAME OF HORIZON. TELL US ABOUT THAT?
Barry Collins, my agent at the time and business partner of Cyril Wayne had a backing track of the Laid Back hit, 'Sunshine Reggae' and he suggested that I record it for UK release on his label, which I did in my studio in Grayshott with Sue Marshall doing the female vocal. Somehow or other a deal for this track came up in South Africa and the record company wanted an album so I gathered up a few other tracks that I had recorded and put them together for the LP and then I was offered a tour in South Africa but there was an embargo operation at the time so I could not really go there as Mungo. So I came up with the Horizon name to work with. We went to Jo’burg for the Rand Easter show and stayed for almost three months. We came back on a cruise ship from Cape Town and did some shows on the ship. It was a good experience.
THE ALBUM FEATURED A REAL GEM THAT WAS FEATURED IN THE MUNGO STAGE SHOW AT THE TIME, ‘ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS’. IS THAT ANOTHER ONE THAT COULD MAKE ITS WAY BACK TO THE CURRENT SHOW?
I wrote this song on stage as a little bit to put on the end of 'In The Summertime' and it turned into a complete song that I put on the Horizon album, it was a kind of throwaway thing but the record company in South Africa really liked it and wanted to put it out as a single, I think that I could do a better job of the recording but I never really thought about it before, maybe I should give it a go, although it does not really fit in to the kind of music genre that I am performing and recording at the moment.
ALSO AROUND THIS TIME, YOU GOT TO RECORD WITH ROCK LEGENDS, PETER GREEN OF FLEETWOOD MAC AND VINCENT CRANE OF ATOMIC ROOSTER ON THE ALBUM ‘A CASE FOR THE BLUES’ UNDER THE BAND NAME OF KATMANDU?
The story of this liaison has been put together very well by Derek. I think that I will go into more detail about this later.
YOU WERE COMMISIONED TO WRITE THE MUSIC FOR TWO TELEVISION SHOWS OF THE TIME – PAUL DANIELS ‘WIZBIT’ AND THE COMEDY/DRAMA ‘PROSPECTS’?
Barry Murray is a member of the Magic Circle and came up with the Wizbit idea for Paul Daniels to do a children’s TV series, Barry already had chosen some of my songs for the show and went about adapting some of the lyrics to suit the series, which was also shown in the U.S.A. We did some of the recording in Croydon at Matthew Fisher's studio and it was great to meet such a talented keyboard player who had played on such an international classic hit as 'Whiter Shade Of Pale'. I was in the Red Bus office late one afternoon when Ellis Elias told me that Greg Smyth, the director of the Prospects TV series was not happy with the theme song that they had for the series and wanted to find another, Roger Daltrey was set to sing it. Ellis suggested that I should give it a go. Whilst driving home I got an idea for the song and stopped my car in Feltham and wrote down my ideas and the next day or two I recorded the demo at home. Ellis also said that they wanted some rock ‘n’ roll songs for the series so I put some of mine on a tape and sent it off with the Prospects demo. I must have used an old tape that also had the 'Thank You Very Much' demo on it and also the 'Naughty Little Girls, Big Bad Guys' song. I then went off on tour and forgot all about it until I got a call to say that my song would be the theme and I was to also sing it. My other two demos also found their way in to the series without any changing or re-recording, amazing!
IT COULD BE SAID THAT AROUND ‘86, MUNGO JERRY WERE JUST DRIFTING ALONG AS A BAND?
I wasn’t actually. I was doing a lot of gigs, particularly in Germany and the band was utilising the vocal talents of Ray, Glen and Dave, we were also adding more covers in to the repertoire, mainly soul type songs such as 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine', 'How Sweet It Is', 'I Wanna Kiss You All Over', 'My Girl', etc. I was always a soul music fan and this music connects to the blues and gospel music that I have been a long time fan of.
YOU THEN PERFORMED A SERIES OF GIGS IN FRANCE WITH YOUR OLD FRIEND JOE RUSH, AND YOU HAVE SAID SINCE THAT JOE HELPED YOU REDISCOVER YOUR KNACK FOR PERFORMING IN AN INFECTIOUS STYLE. WHAT IS IT ABOUT JOE?
Joe invited me and the family over to France for the opening of a club in Quiberon, Mick Frampton decided to come along too. We played there and got invited to play at some more places, just Joe and myself, Mick joined in on some make shift percussion and a good time was had by all. We then went on to do some busking in the bars and got invited back for the summer. Joe and I used to perform for about three hours with all kinds of jug band, skiffle, rock-a-billy and country music and even did versions of 'Satisfaction' and 'Walk Of Life'; this is how I came up with the song 'Red Leather & Chrome' which the punters loved. We did this for a few years and even got booked for Bastille night in one town and also a theatre in Paris. Joe was a favourite with the audience, playing solos on their drinks trays and glasses, drinking beer onstage and making roll ups between and during numbers. He also has a thorough knowledge of blues and jazz and the ability to speed up, slow down and add many dynamics to his accompaniment.
THE BAND IN ’87 WAS LES CALVERT (bass), MICK FRAMPTON (percussion) AND TWINS JOHN (drums) AND NICKY (keys) WREN AND IT HAD SOMETHING?
This was another good line up and we played quite a few blinding gigs, one that really stands out was the first time that we played the Klithaus in Esbjerg, Denmark and also on the same tour the festival that we did on the same bill as Joe Cocker, etc. I first met the Wren Twins when they came to record in my studio then later John called me up to say that Pete McCarthy, the manager of Westworld, a hot new band at the time, was interested in them recording a new version of 'In The Summertime' with me. We did this and the song was released on the IRS label which was owned by Miles Copeland, the brother of the drummer of The Police's, Stewart Copeland, they at that time also had REM on the label. I had previously met Miles a few years before at Tony Gordon’s office when he was discussing with Tony about putting some of Tony’s bands on his label, this was when Tony was managing Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts and The Cockney Rejects. 'In The Summertime' came out on CBS in Germany and we did some TV shows there, in England the record made it into the independent charts. In December of the same year we did a tour of British military bases in Germany, it was hard work and at the end of the tour the twins and myself fell out. Les did not come on the tour and his place was taken by Bo Dinage who was also a very good singer and he had an endless repertoire of jokes that he entertained us and the other artists on the tour with.
THERE WAS ANOTHER LONG IRISH TOUR BY THAT BAND WASN’T THERE?
Yes, we toured Ireland twice with this line up, John put a dried up fried egg into a hotel bathroom light fitting and when we returned several months later it was still there.
DO YOU LOOK BACK ON YOUR TIME WITH THE HAL CARTER ORGANISATION AS A GOOD ONE?
Sadly, Hal has now passed away and our relationship ended in the courts over financial matters and most of the bands that had been with him for many years including The Swinging Blues Jeans and The Equals also parted company with his Organisation. However, it must be said that I learnt a lot from him and we had a lot of laughs together. Hal got me on to another level and although he was not into the blues, soul and psychedelic music that I liked, we shared a love of rock ‘n’ roll and Hal had many stories to tell about his work with Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and his meeting with Elvis. Hal also had worked with The Who and the Kinks amongst others and was responsible for the word 'Girl' at the beginning of the Kinks, 'You Really Got Me'. Many people disliked his style and it was his mega falling out with Rainer Haas, the German promoter, who I had worked with since 1973 and was now married to Suzi Quatro that upset the applecart. Rainer refused to work with me and any other artists that were connected to Hal in any way whatsoever.