Saturday, October 28, 2006

MR PUGH WANTS TO PLAY

Puppeteers of the world unite, Don't make love, make war.
Puppeteer: a song by Blurt
Mr Pugh we salute your obscenity and verve. Mr Pugh wanted to return theatre to its roots. Mr Pugh wanted to lay a turd at your kid's birthday party. More years ago than I'd care to remember, I'd see as support at various gigs here and there, an act going by the name of Mr Pugh - a Punch and Judy show with a difference. This one entailed more expletives than your average Lenny Bruce performance, the spilling of bodily fluids and some maximum violence. It wasn't for the kids. If you can imagine a Punch and Judy show mounted by Alfred Jarry, you'd be close - Papa Ubu goes panto. The crowds would usually let their displeasure show after ten minutes or so - but by then, the mad puppeteer had done his job. Time passed and in the salad days of 1980 I got interested in a wayward band called Blurt - an interest spurred by the name of their first single - 'My Mother Was An Enemy Of The People'. Buying it to find a free jazz/punk type collision bursting out of an innocent looking 7" was a joy. Shortly, reading their press, it hit me that the leader, one Ted Milton - the singer and saxophonist, was the very maniac behind Mr Pugh. This man Milton has been around the tracks. Poet, lyricist, player of wild sax and a performer of singular genius. He's been touring and recording with Blurt and solo for some quarter of a century now and shows no sign of letting up, in addition to collaborating with like-minded musicians and giving poetry recitals (as far back as the early sixties) and getting involved with multi-media events. You'll find his work in the famous 1969 anthology 'Children of Albion'. He dragged Mr Pugh's Blue Show, to give it its full nomenclature, around for fifteen years or so as an affront to the civilized sensibilities of the liberal theatre-goers of Europe before calling it a day, tired of the prissiness and smugness of the audiences. Mr Pugh had looked them in the eyes and found them wanting. He seems to have approached it as a fight to the death. One audience, having sniggered through the violence, sexual content and dirty words, apparently balked at the sight of a Union Jack being regurgitated. One can only assume they were unaware of the event's carnival, Antic roots. Chalk one up to the poet Milton. Blurt has had a floating membership over the years, but all incarnations have in common a very disciplined post-punk sonic attack over which Milton lets loose with an atonal, abandoned (his description) squall of noise from his sax and a lyrical approach more Dada than pop. As Zappa once said of John Cooper Clarke, the man has exquisite diction. Having studied book-binding, he also creates marvelous little hand-made volumes of Beat Dada madness. Blurt are still patrolling the margins - the audiences have never been huge and he remains a prophet without honour at home but there are still people out there interested in tracking down the mavericks. Every now and again Mr Pugh peeps out from the linaments of the Milton physog. And he came from Stroud, you know.

++postscript
Ted Milton, as Mr Pugh, played some very respectable fringe venues, too, I should point out. The Bush Theatre, for instance, and the Roundhouse (I've got some wonderful publicity material for his Bush appearance, performing a show entitled 'Operation Wordsworth'). Mr Pugh's Velvet Glove (to give it the alternative soubriquet) got around. Mr Milton also took the Pugh experience onto television, appearing on an episode of the first series of the seminal 'So It Goes' in 1976. I've never seen it, has anyone out there got any footage?

8 Comments:

Blogger Molly Bloom said...

That's the way to do it! Great post Anthony. I just wish he'd do another show. That would be cool.

3:44 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Cool!

7:24 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

This is another post I put up last April before dive-bombing the blog.
Recycling is the wave of the future.

7:34 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

You realise, of course, that St. Anthony is the Patron Saint of Lost Property; he's invoked by people who have lost or misplaced things.

7:28 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, lost property, lost causes.
I also like to think, after the ergot madness of medieval Europe known as St Anthony's Fire, that he is the patron saint of LSD psychosis.

8:51 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

LOL!

Yeah, I remember now: we covered St. Anthony's Fire as part of my mycology (well, microbiology) degree...I seem to remember some over-heated anecdote about a medaeval village that ate a batch or ergot-tainted bread...all the villagers freaked out 'cause they thought angels and devils were dive-bombing them, so the entire village ended up jumping in a river (the Seine, maybe?)...sounds like Martock on a friday night.

6:43 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, those lucky old medieval peasants - a major trip for the price of a sandwich.
Wonder if that is the same St Anthony of the famous temptations ...?
Should have listened back there in seminary school.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Pugh super-8 footage on www.tedmilton.net !!!!

8:43 PM  

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