COOL JESUS/JOHN HENRY/FAR AWAY/LET'S ROCK/GIVE US A SONG/HELLO BABY/JUST HER WAY/GOING UP THE RIVER/YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU WANT IT/I LIE AWAKE/RED LEATHER & CHROME/LUCKY GIRL/I WANNA LIVE IN THE SUN/WE ARE THE SAME/PRAYING SO HARD/HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS/MAMA DON'T ALLOW/GIVE US A SONG (Refrain)
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Released on the 22nd August 2011, 'Cool Jesus' is in my opinion, the best of Ray's recent albums, going back to 'Adults Only' in 2003. It was recorded with a 'Boot Power' feel in mind and I think I can say, this is something that has been achieved.
THE ALBUM SLEEVENOTES
Between Woodstock and punk, there was an awakening of interest in skiffle, most conspicuously in Germany — as exemplified by Tony Sheridan presenting three hours of the stuff every week on Radio Hamburg, and a best selling L.P by Lonnie Donegan with the country’s own Leinmann Skiffle Group. However, a bigger attraction than even Donegan — who’d ruled the movement during its 1950s prime — was Mungo Jerry after 1970’s anthemic 'In The Summertime' began a run of international hits that lasted most of the decade. Glance at any of Mungo Jerry’s publicity photographs from that period, and the face to which you’re drawn most immediately is that of singing composer Ray Dorset, one of the most charismatic figures to leap from the screen of Top Of The Pops, Beat Club and any other of Europe’s principal pop television series then.
Furthermore, as Ray himself confesses in the vocal version of 'Give Us A Song' on this latest project, “I’m the one that leads the band”. By the same token, Dorset’s stylistic consistency has infused Mungo Jerry with a built-in originality in the teeth of each change of image and format, and every musical idiom either explored for the first time — or, in the case of 'Cool Jesus', re-investigated. While longtime Mungo Jerry purists would approve of the kazoo, washboard, harmonica and what John Mayall would call ‘mouth percussion’ — not to mention backing by the cream of the Fatherland’s skiffle specialists — Dorset isn’t so bound by lodged conventions that he can’t deviate from rent-party precedent. Indeed, his use of amplification and electric keyboards only enhances the overall effect on a passionate exercise in modern skiffle that combines a lean, abandoned approach with inherent respect for both the form and its elder statesmen.
Witness the overhaul of 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands' that owes far, far more to Donegan than Laurie London’s 1957 million-seller; a near-definitive revival of steel-drivin’ 'John Henry' — and, perhaps as inevitable as Valentino’s recording of Kashmiri Song, a Dorset treatment of Charles 'Cow Cow' Davenport’s 'Mama Don't Allow' barrelhouse standard. Of the fifteen originals, 'Let's Rock' could have been lifted by time machine from an Elvis Presley session at Sun — and 'Going Up The River' and 'I Wanna Live In The Sun' hark back to the raggedly carefree 'In The Summertime' — though the joyous verve has a brake applied when more sombre topics are addressed in such as 'I Lie Awake' (A Song For Jesus), 'Praying So Hard' and the driving title track of a startling album that may stand as an artistic apotheosis were it not for the promise of surprises yet to come.
After Lonnie Donegan, Ray Dorset (aka Mungo Jerry) has imposed himself as the new British champion of the skiffle sound. Once the international triumph of 'In The Summertime' (summer 1970) had gone, other successes came too with 'Baby Jump' - mumber 1 in the UK, 'Alright Alright Alright' (from 'Et Moi, Et Moi, Et MoiI' (Jacques Dutronc) number 3, etc.
Like Tony Sheridan, he is really well appreciated on the continent, especially in Germany. He regularly releases new albums, and the last one showed us an intact energy. Recorded with Winnie Martin (bass), Torsten Luederwaldt (keys, banjo), and Martin Troike (drums), 'Cool Jesus' (18 tracks) includes the title, 'Let's Rock' (the title says all) and among the original numbers, covers of 'He's Got The Whole world In His Hands' (popular gospel by Mahalia Jackson), 'John Henry' (a standard sung by Lonnie Donegan) and 'Mama Don't Allow' (Charles 'Cow Cow' Davenport).
The characteristic pop-folk style is highlighted by 'Give Us A Song'.
Review - Jukebox magazine.
AND THE FANS SAY...
Ray Dorset and his boys are right on target with this recent release. This album gives us the 'feelgood factor'and has a nice continual flow from start to finish.Simple, yet passionate and honest, with its fair share of stand-out tracks. This will warm your heart, and have your feet tapping at the same time...Bullseye!!!
Chris Stanyer, Cleveleys.
As always, I hope this note finds you and yours doing well. And speaking of doing well, I definitely concur with the opinion that 'Cool Jesus' is the best Mungo Jerry album in many years, perhaps even back to the early & mid-1970's albums.
As a matter of fact, the feeling is quite like that of those 70's LP's, and made me think once again of the best Mungo line-up (in my humble opinion). Hopefully, the wounds from their break-up are healed enough - and their health & situations otherwise good enough - so that sometime Ray, Colin, Paul, Mike et al can get together for an album, or at least a (recorded) reunion concert!
All the best!
Ray Dorset's present backing band (of Martin, Luederwaldt, Troike) creates faithfully here the good time music & sounds that Mungo Jerry first came out with in the early 70's. The recordings were made under live studio conditions which produces a beautiful vibe. There were a couple of the pure skiffle type offerings that I was not so keen on, but otherwise there are many excellent pieces here. There's nothing particularly new about it, but there is enough variety from jug band to rock'n'roll to 50's doo-wop to pure pop to rock to folk protest to skiffle, plus with an overall excellent performance like this, manages to straddle all age groups & countries.
Certainly you can imagine this sounding forth from a German beer festival along with the sounds of thumping beer glasses. Less blues orientated than Mungo's previous album from 2003, & though there is still that, here it is really back to pure Mungo (Dorset's guitar playing & vocals seem ageless) & whose more purist fans should surely love. Great value for money with 18 tracks (15 seemingly composed by Dorset) clocking in at 71 mins plus. Standouts are 1) 'Cool Jesus', 5) 'Give Us A Song', 8) 'Going Up The River' ("we are happy happy people having fun" which says it all), 9) 'You Can Get It If You Want It' (this rocks), 10) 'I Lie Awake', 11) 'Red Leather And Chrome', 13) 'I Wanna Live In The Sun', 15) 'Praying So Hard' (brilliant driving snarling blues). Mungo Jerry gives a demonstration for other 60's/70's bands on how things could be done in 2011.
Just to let you know the CD 'Cool Jesus' arrived safe and sound two weeks ago. Have been playing it constantly on the i-pod since it arrived and blasting it out in my shop every chance I get as well. Also had it playing in Oxfam music in Glasgow last week. It's a truly great album, oh so Mungo Jerry in so many ways.
I just find it amazing that his standard of songwriting is so consistently high. Roll on the next one.
Monday after the festival (Weyfest 2011) recieved 'Cool Jesus' CD. What can you say about the album? It's an absolute masterpiece from beginning to end. I like the new version of 'Red Leather And Chrome', which gives me great memories of mum as the 'Snakebite' version was one of her favourite songs, and the last song I ever played to her.
Quintin Drake, Fleet.
Nice to see that Mungo Jerry are back on true form and can still hack it. Not really a duff track on the whole album and save for the brief (and too short) excursion into the blues (Mungo Jerry Bluesband) this is probably the best album since 'You Don't Have To Be In The Army' except for maybe 'Naked From The Heart'. Mungo Jerry (Ray Dorset being the only surviving original member) have covered many musical styles over the years and mostly to great affect proving that they remain both durable and endearing. As far as the cover goes I also like the passing references to 'Boot Power' (another great Mungo Jerry Album) from the early 70's. For anybody that preferred the original Mungo Jerry, like me, this is perhaps as close as it is possible to get without going over too much old ground. Thankfully the lyrics do not tax the brain too much with the end result being just good foot tapping music.
It has to be the very best collection that Ray has put out for some time. I can’t tell you how much this has cheered me up. It reminds of listening to the debut Mungo album for the first time in terms of its freshness and the sheer joy it provided me then. I can honestly say that there isn’t a single track that I would want to skip.
John Burton - Paul King Website.
I opened my package I got in the mail last week and inside was 'Cool Jesus'. I knew what the cover looked like but I now had the new Mungo Jerry CD in my hands.
I just looked at it for about 5 minutes, what a great cover! Bruce Brand did an awesome job with the 'Cool Jesus' artwork, I really love it! I opened it and put the CD on. I knew a few of the songs from the on-line shop with the 'Cool Jesus' CD Derek has but now I have the new complete CD. It's now my favorite Mungo Jerry album/CD. The whole CD is fantastic - 'Going Up The River' and 'I Wanna Live In The Sun' are two of my 'favs' but dont get me wrong I think the whole CD is great. what a great CD Ray has put together.
I played it yesterday then today going and coming from work and I'm playing it as I'm writing this e-mail.
I just wanted to say - this CD is GREAT! No Bullshit, I'm serious guys this is FANTASTIC! - I'm very proud to know you guys and to have my name inside the CD (page 6) - ha, ha, ha - that's pretty cool - thank you.
The CD starts out great with 'Cool Jesus' a great rock-a-billy song - I don't know if I phrased that right. Then John Henry, Far Away, 'Let's Rock' sounds great. Then the new great 'Give Us A Song', awesome get up and boogie, move your feet song, it really gets the foot tapping. 'Hello Baby', 'Just Her Way' two more great songs. 'Going Up The River', how can you not like this song? It's great and one of my favorites on the CD. 'You Can Get It', GREAT! 'I Lie Awake', man I love this song, it really sounds great. A great remake of 'Red Leather And Chrome', I hope you dont mind me saying I like it better than the original. 'Lucky Girl', a happy foot tapping song, then 'I Wanna Live In The Sun' - are you kidding me - this fucking song is great, excuse my french - ha ha - I can't believe they didn't want a video for this song, it's great! 'We Are The Same', a good song, 'Praying So Hard', fantastic! 'He's Got The Whole World', a good one. 'Mama Don't Allow', a great old Mungo-sounding song. 'Give Us A Song' (refrain) - awesome, makes you want to play the CD over again, ha, ha!
I think it will go down as one of Ray's best albums!
I love the CD - great work Ray!
Take care - God bless you.
Marc Viscel, New Jersey, U.S.A.
I can only agree! You wondered whether 'Cool Jesus' is too long - it isn´t, and really, I wouldn´t skip a thing, the whole set flows and sparkles along ever so well, a joy to listen to. This way, Electric Skiffle rules the waves!!
Cheers, swing on
Uli Twelker - Germany.
Like a small child I could not wait until 'Cool Jesus' arrived in the post. I was not disappointed - all great tracks! Best album since the early days!
Stand out tracks for me are 'Far Away', 'Give Us A Song', 'Hello Baby', 'Going Up The River', 'I Lie Awake', 'Red Leather & Chrome' and the awesome 'I Wanna Live In The Sun'. This track is what Mungo is all about, 'Sun, Girls & Having a Drink'.
Ray, please never stop, you're getting even better!
Can't wait until the next offering!
Colin Fern, Burton on Trent.
Being a diehard Mungo Jerry fan since 1970, I can’t help but compare the more recent outputs by my favourite Mighty Man with the first four MJ albums plus Rays’ solo 'Cold Blue Excursion'. These are the ones I’m most familiar with as there were a number of years when I lost track of what was happening with the band and I’ve still to fill in the missing gaps in my Mungo music collection.
I’m finding it so difficult to be objective with over 40 years of consistent listening to that early collection, but, as the album notes say, this latest release will please the fans of the early years as it hearkens back to the roots of Mungo Jerry. I’ve already nicknamed it Electronic Blue Army Boots in my mind as there are strong echoes from that era which will hopefully please the many other fans of longstanding as much as it has me. The cover certainly links 'Cool Jesus' and 'Boot Power' with the incorporation of the earlier album cover into the latest release design. I think the skateboarding Jesus cartoon would make a great T-shirt design by the way!
The tracks are a melding in styles from the eponymous 'Mungo Jerry', particularly 'Baby Let's Play House' and some of the song lyrics on 'Cool Jesus' remind me of that observational statement of the state of the world in 'Peace In The Country'. 'Baby Jump' and 'In The Summertime' from ‘Electronically Tested’ resonate strongly; 'Northcote Arms', 'See Me' and 'Ella Speed' from 'You Don't Have To Be In The Army To Fight In The War' finishing with 'Have Pity On Me' from ‘Cold Blue Excursion’ and 'Lady Rose' and 'Dusty Road' from ‘Boot Power’; these and more all seem to have descendants in this new album. It’s a bit like seeing old family pictures of long ago ancestors, you can see the resemblances through the generations but each is an individual with their own definable complexities. There’s no mistaking the heritage though. The whole album should be pleasing to all Mungo Jerry fans regardless of when they started to appreciate the diverse musical styles that have been produced by Ray and the various line ups over the years as it spans all the different styles and facets of the diverse sounds of Mungo Jerry.
I’ve long been a skiffle and blues fan, and the apparent simplicity of 'Cool Jesus' belies the experience and undisputed talent of the man who has fronted this band for more than 40 years. The support of this band’s line-up with their stripped down, back to basics approach underlying their own particular talents are complementary to the genre of music, I particularly like hearing the washboard being used again with such skill and the keyboards add a pleasing rolling jauntiness. The kazoo always seems to add impudence to any number and brings a smile to my face whenever the raucous piping blasts in. Having said all that, there is freshness to the tracks and Ray’s voice has gained more depth with his maturing years; working with the talented musicians on this album, he has really come into his own. As I said in my e-mail back on the day that I received the CD, ‘I like it, I really really really like it’. This album puts me in mind of the unplugged Guilfest set in July 2010 which has to be near the top of my favourite MJ gigs.
I’m off to see Mungo Jerry again at Weyfest and at Dunstable this autumn; it would be good to hear some of the new tracks alongside the old favourites if possible. I should know all the words by then! Hope to see some of the Mungo Jerry fans, look out for me wearing a green fedora hat complete with a Mungo Jerry badge and do say hello if you spot me.