“If you can imagine Marc Bolan joining Mungo Jerry and Dave Swarbrick dropping in on their first recording session, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect when you buy your copy of ‘Been In The Pen Too Long’. Now that’s in no way a put down of Paul King but a compliment! This album is without pretensions and plenty of good-time chug-along music - son of Mungo Jerry style. It goes to show just how much King contributed to the Mungo Jerry sound anyway. A great first solo album from King and definitely one to listen to, buy and then place on your record shelves”.
BEEN IN THE PEN TOO LONG…
“This solo album by the ex-Mungo Jerry member was recorded before he left the group in March. Judging these songs he would stand a fair chance as a solo artist - but he obviously hasn’t that in mind as he recently formed a new group with Colin Earl (also from Mungo). King wrote everything except two Leadbelly songs ('Jean Harlow’ and 'Whoa Buck’, his new single). Johnny Van Derrick’s violin stands out on several tracks, often giving a ragtime feel. One shock is the obvious Mungo sound on 'Candy Man’ complete with banjo and kazoo, not to mention the 'grunts and groans’ on '3 Dog Night’. But despite this, it’s a fine album”…….. “Recorded shortly before Paul King broke away from Mungo Jerry, the jug band superstars he formed in 1970, Been in the Pen Too Long was the singer/songwriter’s attempt to prove there was more to his life than washboards, kazoos, and "In the Summertime” sound-a likes – which, of course, there was, although it was sometimes hard to believe it. Rounding up songs that – he was now forced to admit – had no place alongside the rest of that band’s repertoire, it represented a more or less complete break from the Mungo Jerry jangle, with the opening “Grey-Eyed Athena,” in particular, lining King closer to the then-barely known likes of Roy Harper and David Bowie, as they, too, plonked and strummed their way round the acoustic singer/songwriter circuit. Yet this beautiful ballad, awash with classical imagery and swept by acoustic guitar, is simply one of a multitude of faces on show. The near-anthemic “Sugarcane” is as simplistic and unaffected as “Athena” is, if you wish, a mite pretentious, a love song that soars so triumphantly above its moon-in-June lyrics that they themselves become pure poetry. No sooner is it over, though, than it’s time for “Three Dog Night,” a ribald account of a three-girls-and-a-guy bedroom romp set to lewd violin and a puffing, panting rhythm that leaves even less to the imagination than the narrative. Later, the almost Kinks-themed “Clockwork Machine,” a helter-skelter indictment of the working week, is set to the autocratic rhythm of an alarm clock, while a pair of good-time Leadbelly covers, “Jean Harlow” and “Whoa Buck,” leave you breathless whether you get up to dance or not. The first half of the album is strongest – across side two of the original vinyl, neither “Candy Man” nor “I’ve Changed My Face” offer much that side one didn’t do better, while the surreal “One Legged Man in a Goldfish Bowl” is little more than an exercise in Dylan-ish imagery, pinned to a succession of musical ideas and sequences that really deserved better. Yet this falling off barely dents the album’s status in the slightest – six of the nine tracks are nothing short of brilliant, and the remainder suffers only by comparison"……. “A brilliant first solo album from, by this time, the departed Mungo man. As with Ray’s, I was extremely disappointed that it didn’t chart as it was just as deserving. The irony is, if both 'Cold Blue Excursion’ and 'Pen’ had been the big hits they deserved to be, how would that have impacted on the Mungo Jerry band - if they hadn’t broken up of course - surely they would have elevated Mungo Jerry to new heights! The old Leadbelly number, 'Whoa Buck’ was chosen as the single, backed by non-album track, 'Zoe’ on the b-side. Did Paul get that the wrong way round? I thought so. If nothing else, both Ray’s 'Cold Blue Excursion’ and Paul’s 'Pen’ proved beyond any doubt that Mungo Jerry were a very talented band and not just a 'let’s have a rave-up’, boozy bunch of revellers!
Alan Taylor, Mungomania!……….
Tracks: 01. Grey Eyed Athena — 5:26 02. Jean Harlow — 2:50 03. Sugarcane — 3:55 04. Three Dog Night — 5:06 05. Whoa Buck — 2:39 06. Clockwork Machine — 6:10 07. Candy Man — 3:43 08. I’ve Changed My Face — 5:16 09. One Legged Man In A Goldfish Bowl — 5:42
Personnel: Paul King — lead vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar, piano, recorder, blues harp, kazoo, banjo, jug, producer Stuart Cowell — electric guitar (01, 09), vocals John Godfrey — bass (01, 03-06, 08, 09), piano (03, 09) Bob Voice — drums (01, 03, 08), bongos (06, 09), vocals Mike Piggott — violin (01) Steve Bloomfield — bass (02, 07), mandolin (05) Johnny van Derrick — violin (02, 04, 05, 09) Joe Rush — washboard & bass drum (02, 07) Dave Lambert — vocals (03, 04) Paul Brett — electric guitar (06-08), producer