NAKED FROM THE HEART
Tracks: Motor Biking/Ballad Of A Teenage Queen/Make Me Happy/Come On Baby/Hey Gyp, Dig The Slowness/Play That Funkin’ Music/Go To Sleep/Hippty Cat Mama/Ten Little Women/Everybody Wants Someone/I’m a Liar/I’ve Got My Eye On You/Let’s Go/We Will Never Be Alone/I Walked Everywhere/Staying At Home/Staying At Home (single version).
Mungo Jerry’s Naked From The Heart recorded by Ray Dorset, original bass thumper, Mike Cole and drummer/percussionist, Bruce Brand.
Recorded on the Spectre label (Cat No;1075279), with sleeve design by Arthole (Bruce Brand), the album features 17 tracks, all bar three Ray Dorset compostions, and what seems to be the norm these days, excellent sleeve notes by our friend, Alan Clayson and some wonderful photographs from the archives and some more up-to-date shots by Mungo Jerry’s man in Holland, Rob Kamphues.
XROADS (French Magazine) – FEBRUARY 2008
(Thanks to JJ for the review)
As it is often the case for many groups who have had a mega-huge hit (for example The Knack with My Sharona), it would be really stupid to limit Mungo Jerry and Ray Dorset, the group leader, to his unique song In The Summertime, even if it is a nice one.
After having been forgotten by (almost) everyone, and having been lost (even) himself for a while, Dorset came back full of pluck, at the beginning of the 2000’s, with by this time a quite scattered and unequal discography (roughly from 1981 to 1997), on the contrary the records (about 10), released in the 70’s were all good to excellent.
‘Naked‘ has been recorded “old style” (i.e analogically), with the original (stand-up) bassist, Mike Cole.
The album is a superb collection of blues, rock, boogie-inspired songs, and some other songs with 50’s rhythm or sound.
Beyond the songs (almost all written by Ray Dorset), that’s Ray’s voice which is a surprise, powerful, distinguishable, and completely without any complexes (or hangups).
**** = EXCELLENT!!! (Out of a possible 5)
FRENCH TV MAG TELERAMA REVIEW
(With thanks to JJ)
37 years after In The Summertime, with some eratic times, Mungo Jerry find again the precious simplicity pop roots which made his original sucess.
Ray Dorset sings new compositions with an oldie charm but not dusty at all.
Ready for a Jug band revival?
FAN CLUB INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND…
After the official release of what I reckon is the 13th Mungo Jerry studio album, Naked From The Heart, (or 14th if you count the Horizon album, Boogie Up), we thought we should pick the bones out of the album with the help of the participants, Ray Dorset, Mike Cole and Bruce Brand.
We put it to Ray that the Naked From The Heart album is another ‘earthy, no-bullshit’ recording, and wondered how it came about and what was the thinking behind it?
“I really wanted to do some recording with Mike, one, for old times sake, we had some terrific gigs together both before and after In The Summertime, some of the most memorable that I have played.
“It was also, in retrospect, very unfair how he was axed from the band, so we both thought that it would be a therapeutic experience for both of us to again create some music together.
“Mike is an accomplished musician, and I knew that he would do a good job when put into the situation of recording without previously knowing or rehearsing the songs, same with Bruce, even though we had not played together before, we are like minded in our attitude to the music, plus, Bruce plays drums to the song, creating a sympathetic groove and a vibe, he of course, also plays guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, sings and writes! That’s on top of his artistic skills”.
For Mike of course, it was his first involvement with Ray, recording-wise anyway, since his departure from the original band at the end of the first tour of the U.S.A way back in 1970.
Some of you will remember that Mike guested at the 2005 get-together up in the Newcastle under-Lyme/Stoke area and looking back, I feel sure that a layman could not have been aware that he hadn’t played on stage with Ray for something like 34 years?
“Thanks, very kind of you to say so. If the groove is there, then it works. That weekend was very enjoyable for me and we must do it again sometime – maybe in 2010”?
I couldn’t put it better myself, a brilliant weekend, and one when once again, we saw many, many Mungo fans making the pilgrimage to the ‘Potteries’ to celebrate the 35th year of the band, and of course the Hollywood Music Festival.
In an ideal world, there should be a single taken from the album, and as far as I am concerned, I’m a Liar is a must – it’s brilliant!!! It surely would have a chance of airplay with say, Radio 2?
Mike said, “I think I’m a Liar (the politician’s song ?) could be special. I also like the way Hippty Cat Mama moves along. On the whole I’m pleased with the way this album turned out and I hope everyone else involved feels the same”.
Ray added, “There has been no decision on a single as yet but I was talking to Thomas the owner of Spectre about making something, Funkin’ Music because of the novelty value, could attract attention because of the misinterpretation”.
For drummer Bruce Brand, who had been a Mungo fan for many a year, it must have been just a ‘little bit’ of a thrill for him to record with Ray I guess?
“Why certainly! When I first heard In The Summertime as a lad at a wedding in 1970, I was sold then and there. I was an avid Mungo collector and became addicted to their rootsy sound. I also liked the fact that they didn’t (originally) have a drummer! (I didn’t actually know what drums were for back then.)
“I’d heard that Ray was still playing as Mungo Jerry, and first got to see him by accident about 10 years ago on the Isle of Wight, where I was playing with a band called The Clique”, and added. “We heard that The Pretty Things were playing in the afternoon, and went along for that.
“Imagine my surprise when Ray and his gang hit the stage. (I seem to remember getting a little over excited, much to the consternation of my chums).
“I then caught wind – excuse me – that Ray was playing a solo gig at London’s 12-Bar Club, about 4 years ago, so went along armed with a copy of the ‘Dutonc’ (French covers group I’m in) album, which includes a version of Alright Alright Alright to present to Ray.
“Having cornered him, I also offered my services as ‘Arthole’, in case he needed any artwork doing. Within a week he’d got in touch regarding some work in that department, as well as an in-depth discussion about our musical backgrounds and the possibility of playing together arose.
“It took a while to come to fruition, but it was worth the wait! Obviously, it was a real bonus working with Mike as well”.
“So, Mike Cole records with Mungo Jerry for the first time since the U.S.A tour of 1970 and we also see Bruce Brand on drums and percussion in what is really, a ‘new’ Mungo line-up?
Ray explained, “Bruce suggested recording at Toe Rag, The White Stripes recorded their No 1 album there; the one that Bruce did the artwork for, it is an eight track analogue, just like the one where we recorded the first Mungo Jerry album, though nowhere near as large or posh, and uses all retro equipment.
“Ed (Turner) was a good engineer to work with, we did not worry about overspill or using headphones to monitor when overdubbing. All part of maintaining the feel I believe. We worked in the same way at Gizzard, which is 16 track, another Ed (Deegan) on engineering, he is also the studio owner”.
There are of course, not many bands where their drummers play keyboards as well?
“No, and neither does this one. Actually I played guitar before I started rattling the old traps. My key-hammering efforts are pretty basic and are founded on a few piano lessons I had when I was about 10 years old.
“I wouldn’t call myself ‘accomplished’ by any stretch of the imagination, but if it’s simple enough (and usually with more luck than judgment) I can sometimes get away with it. Let’s put it this way: I’m no Colin ‘Elbows Akimbo’ Earl”.
And you are responsible for the sleeve design? “Well, I figured why waste four years at art college? I started doing record covers back in 1979 when a punk group I was in, called The Pop Rivets released an album off our own backs.
“It was complete ‘do-it-yourself’ set-up, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have been on quite a few more, and knocked up most of the sleeves for those too.
“I also worked for a printer for 13 years, so learned about the technical side, as well. Of course, since the advent of computers, there are far less thumb prints and coffee rings on most of my work”.
He went on to say, “When the White Stripes first toured the UK, about 5 years ago, my current group, The Masonics were invited to open for them. We became good friends, and I introduced them to Toe-Rag recording studios, where they ended up recording their ‘Elephant’ album (featuring Holly Golightly, who I also play with).
“As a consequence, I was asked to work on the packaging for that, plus a few singles and also their last album. Somehow or other, I got to do The Darkness first LP too.
“I really get off on tracks like Play That Funkin’ Music, Hippty Cat Mama, Let’s Go, Come On Baby and I Walked Everywhere, the steamy, bluesy, rocking numbers that Mungo Jerry have always performed well, you have a great sound there?”
“They were fun to do”, explained Mike, “and reminded me a bit of the Northcote Arms days. Just like the old days, it was all very spontaneous with minimal rehearsal. I could have used electric bass on some of those tracks and maybe we’ll do that next time, but acoustic bass is perfect for rockabilly sound and feel and also for more lyrical numbers.
“I love playing double bass and use it most of the time because of my involvement with jazz, but I do enjoy playing electric now and again. I have always tended towards acoustic instruments, which I feel are more in tune with human sensitivity.
“The (mainly) acoustic instrumentation of the original Mungo Jerry line-up was, I believe, one of its main attractions.
“Not only did this give it a different sound but also a very distinctive image and stage appearance from most rock/pop groups of the time”.
“Electronic gear is great of course, but in different ways and especially in conjunction with digital technology which I use myself quite a lot these days (for writing, arranging and practicing) and in my opinion it’s an important option and should form part of a musician’s armoury – but not all of it.
“I do feel that mechanical material has become too dominant in popular music and it’s sad that so many young people are conditioned to hearing (and liking) only quantized sounds and do not experience the human quality and beauty of great music.
“As it happens, Ray opted for analogue rather than digital recording on some tracks which leads me to believe that maybe he thinks along similar lines”.
Bruce said, “Aye. It’s helped by being recorded live on good old fashioned tape recorders through valve-powered (in places) equipment. Digital may give a more ‘accurate’ representation of the sound, but it tends to sound unnaturally clean and takes work to make it actually sound ‘good’ and ‘exciting’.
“The chaps at Toe-Rag and Gizzard studios instinctively know how to capture the best from a live performance.
“Obviously there are overdubs, but the basic rhythm section, including most vocals and occasionally harp were all done at the same time”.
Do you have any personal favorite tracks? “Hmmm… Obviously I like all of ’em”, said Bruce diplomatically, “but Motor Biking, Funkin’ Music, Liar, Walked Everywhere, Make Me Happy and Go To Sleep spring to mind”.
We asked Ray, what pleased him most about the finished recording and if we could expect to see this line-up playing more gigs together?
“To me, the whole vibe was captured, and the album seems to have the organic feel like most of the stuff that turned me on to music in the first place when I was a kid.
“We had a blast at Mr. Kyps, it would be good to do more if the guys fancy it, I know that they have commitments with other bands. I would like to make another album with the same line up too”.
At the time of this interview, the album had already been released in Germany, but was it in the plans to see it released further afield? When and where (which countries) is the album going to be released?
Ray provided the answer, “The record company is planning to release in the whole of the European territories, and I have to organize placement in the rest of the world”.
“It is all kind of low key, no hype, no bullshit”!
Thanks, Ray, Mike and Bruce.