Top 10 Mungo Jerry Songs

Mungo Jerry Songs

Mungo Jerry is a British rock group that formed in 1970. The band’s name was inspired by the poem “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” The band is best known for their hit single “In the Summertime.” This song, written by the band’s lead singer, Ray Dorset, became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The original lineup of Mungo Jerry included Ray Dorset (vocals, guitar, kazoo), Mike Cole (bass), Paul King (banjo, jug, harmonica), and Colin Earl (piano). Their music was a distinctive blend of rock, folk, blues, and skiffle. The band’s first performance was at the Hollywood Music Festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in May 1970, alongside acts like Grateful Dead and Free. Their performance at this festival, particularly the song “In the Summertime,” catapulted them to fame.

After their initial success, Mungo Jerry continued to have hits in the UK and Europe, though they struggled to maintain their popularity in the US. Their other notable songs include “Baby Jump,” which reached number one in the UK in 1971, and “Lady Rose,” also a top hit in several European countries.

The band underwent numerous lineup changes over the years, with Ray Dorset being the only constant member. Despite these changes, Mungo Jerry continued to record and perform, adapting their sound to suit changing musical tastes while maintaining the core elements of their original style.

#10 – You Don’t Have to Be in the Army to Fight in the War

“You Don’t Have to Be in the Army to Fight in the War” is a track by Mungo Jerry, featured on their album of the same name, You Don’t Have to Be in the Army. This album was released in 1971, during the peak of Mungo Jerry’s popularity following their breakout hit “In the Summertime.”  The album You Don’t Have to Be in the Army was produced by Barry Murray, who had worked with Mungo Jerry on their earlier albums. The lineup for Mungo Jerry at this time included Ray Dorset on vocals and guitar, who was also the primary songwriter for the band.

Other members included Colin Earl on piano, John Godfrey on bass, and Joe Rush playing various percussion instruments. The title track stood out for its upbeat rhythm and catchy melody, characteristic of Mungo Jerry’s accessible and feel-good music style. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 48 in September 1971 and peaked at No. 13 the following month. In Australia, it peaked at number 97.

#9 – Sugar Mama

We have the cool, grooving song “Sugar Mama” in the number nine spot. This one has a bit of a Creedence Cklearwast Revival feel to it. The song was released in 1978. It was issued on the album Ray Dorset & Mungo Jerry. “Sugar Mama” was released as the third single from the album. It failed the chart anywhere. It’s cool that music like this will still be released in 1978 when the rock and roll world was turned upside down by just going Punk. It might have been a big hit if this had been released earlier, maybe in the early ’70s.

# 8 – You Better Leave That Whiskey Alone

Mungo Jerry’s song “You Better Leave That Whiskey Alone” was released in 1971. The song was issued on the album entitled Electronically Tested. All it takes is a few measures of this song to know it was Mungo Jerry. Check out that very happy kazoo and happy sounding piano. They seem to be having a good time on this one.

# 7 – Alright, Alright, Alright

Hey, I thought Matthew McConaughey wrote this. Of course, he got it from Mungo Jerry, which made sense because it’s what his character said all the time in the 1970s-based movie Dazed And Confused.

# 6 – Open Up

Mungo Jerry utilizes some basic blues changes again on their rocking tune “Open Up.” The song Open Up was released in 1972. It was issued as part of a maxi-single that included the songs “Going Back Home.” “I Don’t Wanna Go Back to School,” and “No Girl Reaction.” The song became a top 20 hit in the United Kingdom.

#5 – Hello Nadine

“Hello Nadine”  was released in 1975. The track was produced and written by Ray Dorset, along with Barry Murray as a producer. “Hello Nadine” was particularly successful in Europe, becoming a top 10 hit in several countries. It achieved notable success in Canada, where it reached number five on the Canadian Pop Charts. This one sounds very similar to “In The Summertime.”  The video is pretty interesting in the way it was filmed and produced.

#4 – Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black

“Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black” is a notable song by the British group Mungo Jerry, released as a single in 1974. The song was both written and produced by Ray Dorset, the band’s lead singer, in collaboration with Barry Murray. The band lineup for this recording included Ray Dorset on guitar and vocals, Dick Middleton on guitar, Bob Daisley on bass, Ian Milne on keyboards, and Dave Bidwell on drums. The song achieved commercial success, entering the UK Singles Chart in April 1974, peaking at No. 13, and remaining on the chart for nine weeks. It also reached No. 84 in Australia. This song was the last single by Mungo Jerry to make it into the British Top 20​​.

The creation of “Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black” involved an interesting process. Ray Dorset worked on various recordings with the band for potential single and album releases. Barry Murray provided a basic idea for the song, and Dorset developed the arrangement. The song was initially based on a different, more risqué and novelty-oriented idea, but was later changed to its final form, which Murray found more appealing. Dorset rehearsed the arrangement with Ian Milne at his house before finally recording it with the full band​​.

Critically, the song was received as a good-humored and swinging pop number, characteristic of Mungo Jerry’s style. It featured a catchy hook and repetitive, bright elements. The song’s upbeat nature was noted for being foot-tapping and undemanding, fitting the band’s reputation for creating easygoing pop records. The lyrical theme of the song revolved around the phrase “every time I make a move she tells me no”, and it was highlighted for its engaging guitar breaks and energetic drumming.

#3 – Lady Rose

“Lady Rose” is a track by Mungo Jerry that, while perhaps not as universally recognized as “In the Summertime,” still holds a significant place in the band’s catalog and in the early 1970s music scene. This song, with its distinctive melody and engaging lyrics, showcases the band’s ability to craft catchy and memorable tunes beyond their biggest hit.

Recorded and released in 1971, “Lady Rose” was another testament to Mungo Jerry’s unique style, which blended elements of rock, folk, and skiffle. The recording sessions for this song, like many of Mungo Jerry’s tracks from this period, likely took place in Pye Studios in London, a hub for many significant recordings of the era. The production was handled with the same raw and organic approach that had become a hallmark of Mungo Jerry’s sound. The song features the band’s frontman Ray Dorset on lead vocals and guitar, demonstrating his ability to capture a whimsical and engaging narrative through both lyrics and melody. The other band members, including Mike Cole on bass, Colin Earl on piano, and Paul King on banjo and jug, contribute to a rich and layered sound that is both playful and musically intricate.

In terms of commercial success, “Lady Rose” did quite well, particularly in the UK where it reached the top 5 in the charts. This success was indicative of Mungo Jerry’s continued appeal in the post-“In the Summertime” era, proving that the band was not a one-hit-wonder but a group capable of producing a series of popular songs.

# 2 – Baby Jump

Baby Jump is Mungo Jerry’s second most successful hit song of their career. It would become their second number one hit single in the United Kingdom. This very cool song sounds completely different from their first big hit In The Summertime.  “Baby Jump” is a blue based tune using one, four, five chord changes. Nonetheless, it’s the energy, the lyrics, the melody, that all made it a big time hit back in 1971.

#1 – In The Summertime

“In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry is a song that encapsulates summer’s carefree and jubilant spirit. Released in 1970, this track quickly became one of the most recognizable songs of the era, leaving an indelible mark on the soundtrack of the early 70s.

The song was recorded in 1970 at Pye Studios in London. Ray Dorset, the lead singer and songwriter for Mungo Jerry, penned the song in just ten minutes, capturing an effervescent and spontaneous vibe that resonated with audiences worldwide. The production was overseen by Barry Murray, who worked to maintain the song’s organic and lively feel. The instrumentation was relatively simple, with a prominent rhythm created using a skiffle beat, and it featured Dorset on vocals and guitar, Mike Cole on bass, Colin Earl on piano, and Paul King on banjo and jug. The lack of a drum set, substituted by the jug and other makeshift percussion instruments, lent the song a unique and catchy rhythm that was both unconventional and engaging.

Critically, “In the Summertime” was praised for its simplicity and catchy melody. It was a song that didn’t take itself too seriously and this approach paid off. The track’s upbeat and breezy nature made it an instant hit, resonating with the carefree mood of summer. Its lyrics, celebrating the joys of the sunny season, were straightforward yet infectious, making it a perennial favourite. The song’s structure, with its repetitive and catchy chorus, ensured it was not only a hit upon its release but also had lasting appeal.

Commercially, “In the Summertime” was a massive success. It reached the top of the charts in multiple countries, including the UK, where it became one of the best-selling singles of all time. In the United States, it also performed exceptionally well, solidifying Mungo Jerry’s international fame.

Photo: Harald Bischoff, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Mungo Jerry Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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