The Mystery Meat
The Mystery Meat are like the Judson Fountain of garage. In the same was that Judson self-recorded radio dramas he wrote himself, Mystery Meat had a vision and ran with it with no outside support. Like Judson Fountain, their work had the elusive midas touch, and ended up brilliant by fact, instead of design.
In 1968, t he band consisted of 5 students from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Vocalist Dick Leighninger was the Men's Work Manager. as such, he had keys to the school's administration building. Profiles was recorded in the basement of the building at night. Instead of playing cover tunes, as many other college bands do, the band had a handful of tunes written by Ron O'Dell and Mike Dugo, who now does a site called 60sgaragebands.com. On the record he calls himself Wayne Joplin.
Profiles was recorded for the band themselves - they never intended to release it commercially. They had the tapes pressed to LP vinyl, and bought the minimum amount of copies required by the plant. After keeping a few copies each, they sold the rest in Blackburn's Student Union building for $4.00 each.
It wasn't until 2005 that Mike Dugo heard from a collector friend that the album was on sale on eBay. This started a chain of events that ended up with the band member reuniting (except for Ron O'Dell, who no one could locate), and this CD - the first commercially available copies of Profiles.
Profiles has a lot of good songs. The first time you put it on you may be overwhelmed by the natural reverb of the room it was recorded in, or the loud ? & The Mysterians styled organ. But listen a few more times and the strength of the songs will rise up like yeast in a bread.
The song that first stood out to me is Tears. Everything about the song is just right, even the recording and loud organ. It just plain works. The title song Profiles is really great too. It's a shame that it is the shortest song, at 1:43. Don't Take Me gets special points (and a check mark on my 'faves' list) for the siren-like sound that comes out of nowhere and obliterates everything else in the end. Rung by Rung has high energy and a more regular garage sound. the drumming takes this one into favorites territory.
There are other songs that are pretty fine too. It Will Last Forever is a song about fearing death. Both Have To Pay is a softer song about the push and pull of a relationship that eventually ended. It really hooks in to you after several listens.
Billed by marketers as a holy grail of garage rock, Profiles came to me with high expectations. Like all things that are built up too high, I was initially disappointed, but ended up really liking this record a lot, not as a holy grail of garage, but as a good album with songs I like hearing again and again.