MUNGO JERRY

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If you hit a groove, you hammer it hard - and few understand this more profoundly than singing guitarist Raymond Edward Dorset, the heart, mind and soul of Mungo Jerry since the group left the runway four decades ago when raggedly carefree 'In The Summertime' topped charts on both sides of the Atlantic - and every other ocean throughout the world.
      'Mungomania' continued with 'Baby Jump', 'Lady Rose', 1971's Electronically Tested album, 'You Don't Have To Be In The Army', 'Open Up', 'Alright Alright Alright', 'Wild Love' 'Long-legged Woman Dressed In Black' and beyond - each one flying in the face of passing trends during the era that bridged Woodstock and punk. Moreover, nearly all these smashes were from the pen of Ray Dorset. Even if he hadn't been one of the most charismatic figures to leap out of the screen during Top Of The Pops, Ray would have been recognised as an outstanding songwriter - as demonstrated when his 'Feels Like I'm in Love' was a UK Number One for Kelly Marie in 1980.
      Dorset developed too into a mesmeric stage performer, seizing immediate possession of an audience, and goading himself, his musicians and, vicariously, his onlookers to near-collapse. Never sacrificing impassioned content and spontaneity for technical virtuosity, he's long been a past master at seizing a given number by the scruff of the neck and wringing the life out of it with impetuous and indefinitely extended exuberance in a droll, gravelly husk, bashed about, lived-in and knowing beyond his years. Backing off until the microphone is at arm's length, just a sandpapery quiver during a dragged out note could be as loaded as a roar with it halfway down his throat.
      The raw drive, earthy emotive vocabulary and occasional aftertaste of enjoyable melancholy is as potent as it ever was, furnished by a voice still as distinctive as the mark of Zorro. Moreover, with as all-powerful a hold over Mungo Jerry as Hendrix had over his Experience, Ray's creativity remains lively, vivid - and unclassifiable. While infusing his output with an indelible and consistent originality, Dorset, in common with the disparate likes of David Bowie, Van Morrison and Jeff Beck, keeps the faithful guessing about what he'll be up to next - and, in an age when the novelty value of most pop idols tends to be more transient than ever, Ray Dorset's return to contemporary prominence, with or without Mungo Jerry, has never been out of the question.


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