How Mungo Jerry (Ray Dorset) ripped off a busker in 1993 and continues to do so in 2009 - the story of 'Acoustic Moods'...
So, what happened?
Well, back around 1993 I was earning a living playing as a street musician mainly in Bournemouth, UK... I had only been playing Chapman Stick for a couple of years at most and my set consisted of a lot of "easy listening" stuff which I'd worked out mainly from memory. My skills on the instrument were in their formative stages and the arrangements of this music that I played contained more than a few innaccuracies (wrong chords, etc) as well as good honest mistakes - but, that was how I lived, from the donations I received for these performances. I had made no recordings of any kind at that stage.
One day when I was busking, I spotted a familiar-looking face in the crowd - who was that guy? I was sure I'd seen him somewhere before. He introduced himself as Ray Dorset, also known as Mungo Jerry... the penny dropped (probably not his...) and I realised that this was the very same Mungo Jerry who I'd watched on Top of the Pops when I was a kid. To cut a long story short, he offered me a recording deal.
The contract was for five albums, which at various subsequent times I recorded for him and his company Satellite Music Ltd. One of these sessions produced what is now somewhat mis-leadingly entitled "Acoustic Moods" which was recorded in about two hours flat, by an engineer who he'd got from the Job Centre on the Youth Opportunities Programme and was paying about twenty quid a week, at his Red Bus recording studios in London.
The album itself was not pressed until three years after that - 1996 - I'd listened to various excuses as to why not and had almost given up hope of seeing the contract produce anything solid at all, let alone any money - meanwhile, I continued to live in various squalid bedsits and earn a precarious living by busking, still with no recordings to sell as I did so. Eventually, however, word came from Ray (Mungo) that production was in hand. By that time, I'd grown a little anxious about this as I'd been playing a few more years and recalled the somewhat dubious quality of the recording session in question - in fact, the music I was playing had changed quite a bit by then.
I remember I had to 'phone his company to find out what my own album was going to be titled - a bizarre and disconcerting experience - all the more so for discovering that it had been called "Acoustic Moods", as the Chapman Stick is an electric instrument... I also recall the feeling of disappointment when I eventually received the first copies of the album and saw the cover. It had been released on the "Summit" label - a bit like the old "K-Tel" series - (serial number SUDCD 4506) - and not only was I not on the front cover in name or image, but the company's catalogue actually had it listed under "various artists", which I was fairly sure was not my name.
After hassling Ray (Mungo) a good deal, I eventually received two boxes of the things and sold them fairly quickly in the street. Meanwhile, his company and distribution network sold them in high street stores such as "Our Price", W.H. Smith and so on - I know this because various people told me they'd bought them there in places like Oxford Street in London. I still had no cd player of my own and continued to busk, wondering when I would receive the promised royalty income and the rest of the cd's to sell so that I could maybe buy one... in short, I have never received anything further from Ray (Mungo) or his company and I began to feel somewhat aggrieved at where the whole deal had left me - with nothing, and still in the street.
I had fulfilled my part of the contract by giving him his five albums worth of music, but had not been paid. I began to look into the legal possibilities of enforcing the contract, only to be advised that when my Legal Aid ran out the situation would in all probability be unchanged, Ray (Mungo) being by no means a stranger to litigation of various kinds which I now understand to be a fairly constant pastime of his...(His own lawyer once told me "I'd sooner trust a snake than Ray Dorset...") Rather than pursue a hopeless cause any further, I simply put the whole thing down to experience and tried to move on with my life and my music and to forget all about "Acoustic Moods".
So, why am I writing this now?
Well, a few days ago I discovered - to my sheer horror - that "Acoustic Moods" was all over the internet being offered by various quite well-known and reputable download sites (for a summarised list of these, see below ) - which could only mean that Ray (Mungo) is still seeking to profit from the recording even now in 2009 - I notice that the copyright is listed on these sites as 2009. Either he's sold it, or he's looking for an income from it. This annoys me not only because I didn't ever get paid for the work I did, but also because the recording itself is probably the very worst one that I have ever made. The idea that people might think that it is representative of what and how I play nowadays is frankly anathama to me. I am also rather indignant that his opinion of the downloading public is quite evidently so utterly devoid of respect.
The marketing tactic he has employed of dividing what was originally a double cd into four volumes is deplorable, as is the fact that the image he chooses to sell it under is of accoustic guitars and that no mention is made on any download site of the instrument that I actually play.
There are also issues of ownership of copyright for certain of the tracks over which he and his company have ridden roughshod and from which I would seek to distance myself.
So, in short, I just want everybody to know the real story behind this little business venture of his and to understand my position in the matter.
Is it really such a bad recording?
In a word, yes. Don't buy it, don't download it, even for free, that's my advice, never thought I'd have to say that about something I'd played, but then I never fully realised the depths to which Ray (Mungo) would stoop in the hope of supplementing his already handsome royalty and other income until now.
Which download sites have it available?
The wretched thing appears to be just about everywhere, all around the world. As well as being on iTunes, it can be found at the following locations on the internet (I only copied the links to the first dozen sites, it may well be on others too...);
Any final thoughts on the matter?
Well, if you're reading this, Ray, then I really have to hand it to you - you really are an even bigger ******* than I and everbody else had hitherto supposed. And, where are my royalties after all these years? I rather dread to think what else you might have done with this atrociously bad recording...
I'd also offer my apologies to anyone who in good faith has been duped into parting with real money to download the album or any part of it.
Derek Dallenger, May 2009.(http://www.derekdallenger.com)