297. ‘Baby Jump’, by Mungo Jerry

Alright-alright-alright-alright-a! Let’s get this out into the open straight off: I love this song. This is brilliant. This is what every rock ‘n’ roll band should be aspiring to when they set foot in a studio. This is a raucous, dirty, silly, angry, rollercoaster-ride of a #1 single…

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Baby Jump, by Mungo Jerry (their 2nd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 28th February – 14th March 1971

Where to start? The swampy riff that sounds as if it’s being played through a boulder rather than speakers? The demented piano, like Jerry Lee Lewis on strong amphetamines? The lead singer, Ray Dorset’s, growling and screaming? The leery lyrics? If Mungo Jerry’s first chart-topper, ‘In the Summertime’, was the soundtrack to a chilled summer afternoon’s garden party, then ‘Baby Jump’ is the soundtrack to the same party, at 4am the next morning, hours after everyone should have gone home, with bodies are strewn across the lawn while somebody, somewhere, has cracked open yet another bottle of tequila.

She wears those micro-mini dresses, Hair hanging down the back, She wears those see-through sweaters, She likes to wear her stockings black… Dorset’s got his eyes on someone so sexy he don’t care where she been… The wooing continues: If I see her tonight, You can bet your life I’ll attack… (How very 1970s…)

As great as this song sounds, its full of lyrical gems as well. She got beautiful teeth, A toothpaste adman’s dream… And then the piece de resistance in the 3rd verse, when he compares his situation, in chasing this girl, to other famous ‘romances’. She is Lady Chatterley, he is the gamekeeper. He is Da Vinci, she the Mona Lisa. And then… I dreamt that I was Humbert, and she was Lolita… Yep, he went there. It’s a perfect rock ‘n’ roll lyric: provocatively dumb, yet somehow quite clever …

Meanwhile the simple riff thumps on and on and on, and we get some of the scatting from ‘In the Summertime’. On first listen you would never guess this was by the same band, but the hints are there. And then it ends. But it doesn’t, not really. Alright-alright-alright-alright-a! And we’re off again. Right back to the start. She wears those micro-mini dresses… And you begin to wonder if this song will ever end, or if it will just keep playing and playing until you go insane…

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Phew. Eventually it fades. You’re quite tired by the end of it. It’s not a record to casually throw on after a long day. This one requires stamina. Like I said – I love everything about ‘Baby Jump’, even if it is perhaps one of the most forgotten #1 records of all time. There’s no way this would have gotten anywhere near the top if ‘In the Summertime’ hadn’t exploded the year before – it’s the ultimate shadow #1. But I’m so glad it made it. It just happened to pop up on my Spotify some years and it’s been on steady rotation ever since. (While you’re getting your breath back, have a listen to ‘Brand New Cadillac‘ by Vince Taylor & The Playboys, and decide if Mungo Jerry were ‘referencing’ or ‘ripping off’.)

Mungo Jerry won’t score any more number one hits. (After this demented mess they never got invited back.) Their next single, ‘Lady Rose’, was stymied by the inclusion of ‘Have a Whiff On Me’ as the ‘B’-side. It was pulled from circulation, and replaced with a different song, as it was seen to be promoting cocaine use. Ray Dorset still uses the band name, though, and tours to this day.

It’s been quite the hard rocking end to 1970/start of 1971… Jimi Hendrix, Dave Edmunds, and now this. Plus, having this record knock ‘My Sweet Lord’ off the top is just plain funny. George Harrison was looking to the heavens for inspiration; Mungo Jerry weren’t looking any further than between their legs… And lo! We’ve had our strongest whiff of glam so far at the top of the charts. It’s coming! In fact, you can think of ‘Baby Jump’ as the amuse bouche before the King of the genre comes along next…

 

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20 thoughts on “297. ‘Baby Jump’, by Mungo Jerry

  1. Remember hearing this a a 13 year old when it first came out, thought it was the heaviest record ever! Loved it then, still do. And I’ve shared this page with Ray Dorset on Twitter, you’ll be pleased to know he approves of your review 👍

  2. Great article about a sometimes overlooked No. 1, but ‘Lady Rose’ was not banned. Mungo Jerry included ‘Have a Whiff On Me’, as the second track on the maxi-single A-side as it had been very popular when they recorded it for BBC Radio 1 sessions. Then it was said that an unnamed MP was going to refer it to the DPP on the grounds that it advocated drug abuse, and the BBC threatened to ban it unless it was removed. Pye Records subsequently substituted ‘She Rowed’, a track from their second album, on future pressings of the record, but existing copies with ‘Whiff’ were still available in shops. I myself bought one a few days after the news story broke. Any collector seeking a copy with the same original ‘offending’ track should be able to find one through the obvious channels, suggesting that if any copies were destroyed, only very small numbers – and certainly not enough to make it a rarity in years to come.

    1. Thanks for commenting, and clearing that up. I saw that ‘Lady Rose’ made #5, so ‘banned’ wasn’t the correct term I suppose. ‘Hampered its chances’ would do a better job of describing it, maybe.

  3. Yikes. My ears are bleeding.

    You do hear the “whit, whit, whit…” half whistle that shows up in “…Summertime…”

    I’ve never heard of a song being destroyed by court order.

    1. Another commenter has mentioned that it wasn’t ‘destroyed’… I got ahead of myself. They were threatened with it and so stopped printing copies of the single.

      I love how they went out their way to release a song that is the complete opposite of ‘Summertime’… and still got to #1.

      1. Just a suggestion, since you a “high roller”, now (LOL!)…insert and/or add an “Update” section to cover what you have learned. There are many, many people out there that read posts but, don’t read comments, esp. if they are just reading you on the web…not via the Reader or phone app (like signed-in WP members are). I know that none of us are technically journalists but, integrity in writing is always appreciated.

        If I get new information, I always update my posts, regardless of how old they are.

        It definitely qualifies as “exact opposite.” LOL!

        You go, dog! You are growing your audience.

      2. Good point, and I will update it now.

        Ha, I’m not sure I qualify as a ‘high roller’! I doubt this brief viral moment will last – especially as I don’t have any more Mungo Jerry #1s to write about…

      3. Hey. You never know who you might get the attention of.

        Because of the material I have posted on my landing page, I routinely have downloads from all over the planet.

  4. badfinger20 (Max)

    This one is like a lot of styles thrown in a bag and mixed up. I like it but it does get old with the chaos at the end…it’s not controlled chaos

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        It does have a charm…and it has catchy parts until it spins out of control lol. I do like it.

  5. At the time I much preferred In The Summertime and Lady Rose, but in the long run it’s Baby Jump for me too 🙂 “People who like this record may also enjoy Open Up, Alright Alright Alright, by Mungo Jerry”….

  6. Derek Wadeson & Alan Taylor of mungojerrymagic.com both state that Baby Jump was the record that brought them a lifetime love of all things Mungo Jerry, check out the B side Live From Hollywood to hear what all the fuss is about.

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