Thursday, August 03, 2006

TS Elliot & Mungo Jerry

Extremes you think? Not so in reality. Their name was inspired by the poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer", from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the musical CATS.

The image here is of Paul King in his heyday - and me similar circuit. Probably around 1975 or 1976. This photo of me was taken in a pub in Ireland - in Youghal - after a trip on a sailing yacht. Not my favourite activity! Its interesting too look back and remember what we were,how we looked and remember what our dreams were way back then.

Mungojerrie and his partner in crime, Rumpleteazer, specialize in petty theft and mischief. In Eliot's original poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer", they are depicted knocking over Ming vases and stealing items from their human family. Mungojerrie is also mentioned in the poem "Macavity, the Mystery Cat" as being one of Macavity's agents.

Onstage, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are usually costumed as orange, black and brown calico cats. In the original Broadway production, Mungojerrie doubled as another character, Coricopat. The "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" song was sung by Mister Mistoffelees. Both of these were changed a few years into the run of the show (So that in more recent productions, it is Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer who perform the number to there own unique dance number where both latch onto each other and do a "double windmill" across the stage). By the end of the recent number both are eventually spooked out of the junkyard by the jellicles. In addition, two distinct versions of the "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" music exist; one is upbeat, the other has a slower tempo.

So what's the connection here, you're asking?

A long time ago, in the mid - late 70's, in the days of my mis-spent youth, I lived in Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, in England. For awhile I lived and worked in a pub, called The Magpie, right on the river. And there I met a number of famous and infamous people. One of those people was Paul King Paul is a very talented artist and worked at Shepperton studios as a prop maker on the Bond film, Casino Royale. He also formed a folk band, 'The Russian Front' with Steve Bloomfield who later found great success with pop/rockabilly cross–over band 'Matchbox'. Steve was co–producer on 'Lyin' Again' and 'Rosalyn'.

He had been to see local band, The Good Earth several times whilst back in England, sat in at some of the gigs and eventually became a full time member. Primarily a jug band, they played some memorable gigs, none more so than their appearance at the 1970 Hollywood music festival on the bill with such luminaries as – Black Sabbath, Traffic, Jose Feliciano and the Grateful Dead.

The band was now called Mungo Jerry and their debut single, In The Summertime became an enormous hit worldwide with Paul on banjo and jug. More hit singles and albums followed, including tours all over the world before the ‘inevitable’ break-up in 1972.

Working on the south of England pub and club circuit, Paul eventually joined forces with old friend and washboard player Joe Rush, Colin Pattenden (bass, Manfred Mann’s Earthband) and violin/mandolin man Mike Pigott in the Jigilo Jug Band during 1977. They recorded a five track 12” single – 'Live At The Limping Whippet'.

During 1978 and 1979 Paul continued his association with Denny Laine and members of Wings in a new band called Rhode Island Red. The band line up included Colin Pattenden, Jamie Moses (Merlin and Paper Lace) and John Hollywood (Hellraisers).

Paul used to come into the bar in the pub where I also worked part time. The landlord persuaded Paul to use his artistic talents in the form of a mural in the upstairs bar of the Magpie and I used to help when I had time. His band used to play there on Thursday nights and the bar was PACKED - five deep on those nights. It was where I learned how to be a barmaid for the first time...pull several pints of beer at once, learn what shandy was and not to pull a face when the customer asked for Pernod and Coke. Bleeeeech

On to the present - but the past too. A sketch of a surfer contemplating the waves in California.

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