John Lennon wrote an early version of ‘Mucho Mungo’ with Phil Spector during the first sessions for Rock ‘N’ Roll in late 1973. It was first recorded by Harry Nilsson, and one of Lennon’s demos was eventually issued on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology.
Spector’s contribution to ‘Mucho Mungo’ was a middle section which has never been widely heard. Lennon recorded three home demos of the song, which he reportedly wrote with guitarist Jesse Ed Davis in mind.
It was instead taped during the sessions for Nilsson’s album Pussy Cats, produced by Lennon in 1974. The song was recorded as a medley with one of Nilsson’s own compositions, ‘Mt Elga’. A lengthy studio rehearsal, available on bootlegs, shows how the songs took shape in the studio, and how one couplet ended up being dropped: “Sailing on the good ship Lollipop/Open up a drug store, a nice kind of shop.”
I finished it once with Phil, but he [Nilsson] pointed out the bits he didn’t like, which are exactly the bits that Phil wrote, which I didn’t like. I’ll give you ‘Mucho Mungo’. This is a hit record.
Pussy Cats studio session
Lennon retreated from the music industry in 1975, but continued to write and record in private. In early 1976 he taped another acoustic performance of ‘Mucho Mungo’, with the sound of his son Sean crying in the background. That version, released on John Lennon Anthology, was largely the same as the 1974 demo recordings.