Paul King, onetime Mungo Jerry member, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of said band’s debut single, and arguably best known song, ‘In the Summertime’, with the release of ‘A Baker’s Dozen’. Constituted by a collection of five brand new songs, all tracked live in the studio this year, alongside a compilation of 8 other songs that have been lifted from various stages of his career, it’s interesting that the very reason for this celebration (at least according to the blurb) is not present in the tracklist. But, of course, ‘In the Summertime’ wasn’t composed by King. This collection, aside from the traditional ‘Gypsy Davey’, is solely material penned by the man himself. And it’s a varied listen, in terms of style and quality. Quality of recordings, that is; musically, it’s all generally great stuff, with one or two duds. The jumps in quality are more a corollary of production strengths and limits of the 70s, 90s and 00s source material. ‘Winds of Change’, for example, sounds in fairly rough shape.
Featuring a changing lineup of personnel between each of the older tracks, it also seems to be something of a celebration of some of the talented musical company King’s kept over the years, from the likes of Denny Lane, Steve Holly, Lawrence Juber, Collin Pettenden and Mike Piggott, to a song (‘Vision of You’) that’s described as being written in Crete and recorded by “Nightshift with local band members”. A fantastic track, the latter.
From jingly jangly folk opener, ‘Will You Kiss, Will You Dance’, to the down-tempo bluesy ‘Voodoo’, to the psychedelic delights of ‘No One to Phone’, to the rockabilly sways of ‘Have You Seen My Gal’… it’s a stylistically mixed bag. Hits and a few misses along the way, I personally would’ve liked to have seen a few more 70s songs in the tracklist as there’s something more charming and appealing about music from that decade (although perhaps King had more duds from the 70s… I’m not familiar enough with his output to make that judgement). That said, 1995’s ‘Sugarcane’ and the aforementioned ‘Vision of You’ from 2005 are both great songs.
There are also two bonus tracks (billed as being “in memory of the late Joe Rush”) - the first being one of the five new ones, and the other a 1995 live recording of ‘Houdini’… both of which I guess had to be labelled as “bonus” to maintain the baker’s dozen branding. So, all in all, a nice overview of a talented musician who’s evidently still able to write a catchy tune. A shame about the naff cover art, though.
A BAKER'S DOZEN
Review by Mark Holmes
12th June 2020
1) Will You Kiss, Will You Dance
2) Wind of Change
3) Came the Man with the News
4) Comin' Home; 5) Sugarcane
6) Busker's Dawn; 7) Saturday Matinee
8) Dressed to Kill; 9) Gypsy Davey
10) No One To Phone
11) Have You Seen My Gal
12) Vision of You; 13) Voodoo
14) Money for Rope (Joe's Song)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a nice overview of a talented musician who’s evidently still able to write a catchy tune."