The Mystery Meat: Profiles (1968, Mega-Rare US Garage, Limited Press)


Recorded at a college in Illinois in 1968, original copies of Mystery Meat's 'Profiles' LP are now worth a year's tuition at almost any university in the midwest. How's that for irony? But relax, now you can hear this baby without the second mortgage, and without the snap, crackle and pops of the original pressing. All original songs!

If there is a Great Lost Garage Album out there, this 1968 artefact by Illinois band MYSTERY MEAT could be it. Like most garage LPs it is a primitive recording, featuring an inexperienced, enthusiastic band. Unlike most garage LPs, however, it has no cover versions but a string of originals ranging from good to unbelievable, and the decision to bring in a skilled, versatile vocalist adds a depth unusual for these teenbeat concoctions. Before moving onto the "meat", here's some background on the band and the LP courtesy of Dick Leighninger:

"...We were all students at Blackburn College, located in Carlinville, Illinois. I was a Senior and the other members were Juniors. I had been singing with a local barbershop quartet, the college choir, and a trio that did original folk songs. Wayne Joplin and Ron O'Dell had been writing songs, and were looking for a singer to help them, and they recruited me. (Blackburn is a small school... we only had about 500 students at the time, so everyone knew everyone). We recorded the album in the basement of our college's administration building... a building that the students had just finished building, but the basement had not yet been divided into offices. So, it was a big space, where we would not disturb anyone at night, when we practiced and recorded. I don't remember exactly how many albums we made; my memory is that we went around the room, and said... "well, how many do YOU want, how many do YOU want?" We then added them up, and made that many. We also may have had a minimum order to fill, but it couldn't have been more than about 25, I think. The record was made in St. Louis, Missouri with a custom label company for RCA Records. We only performed once, and that was at the college. We did not have typical posters for the event, nor do I know of any pictures that were taken. We were pretty much hermits in the basement..."

Of course it's only typical that this needle-in-the-haystack among disappointing garage LPs is also one of the rarest 1960s albums in existence, with at most 100 copies manufactured. For decades it remained a wellkept secret within a circle of rare LP collectors that govern certain events on this planet, any inquiries from the outside fielded by fatsos who declared from their Moms' basements that "Mystery Meat doesn't exist". Several years ago a partial tape dupe of it was smuggled out and fell into my hands, so I knew it obviously existed and sounded like a teen-beat killer too, a basement merger between the Dovers and early New Colony Six. An $4000 price tag was expected if a copy ever should surface in the real world, unlikely as that seemed. Yet this is precisely what happened in 2002 when a local record dealer, fearless of the forces he was about to set loose, put up a copy for auction on eBay; especially as he listed the full names of the band members. The intercontinental frenzy that followed can only be hinted at, but I would imagine the Illinois switchboards lit up like a Christmas tree as rabid collectors calling from as far away as Belgium and Japan tried to track down copies.

This they did, with maybe a dozen or so Mystery Meats being excavated to the tune of $1000 and upwards. One of these copies landed with Thomas Hartlage of Shadoks, a German record label specialized in upscale reissues of super-rarities from the 1960s-1970s. A deal was reached with the (probably stunned) band members and just a couple of months after the initial mania an exact replica of "Profiles", as the title is, hit the stalls. This happened more than two years ago, but I'm noticing that word on this tremendous album is still confined to rare LP collectors who file it away between Music Emporium and Mystic Siva, while the garage guys - who are the ones that really should care - remain at a distance.
"Profiles", then, is an album that consists of twelve 1966-sounding beat/folkrock originals and no covers, just like the Bachs LP, the payoff being that the Meat songbook may be even stronger than that of their Illinois colleagues. Although recorded in 1968 the songs had been written from 1965 and onwards, which explains the slight "lost in time" nature of the album. Tunes such as "Put Me Down" and "Girl Named Sue" are teen-drama masterpieces worthy of the Dovers, and that's saying something! There are also rawer numbers like "Rung by rung" with a three-chord progression typical for Midwest garage bands, and a hint of psychedelic influences on the great "Sunshine makes it". Dick Leighninger's lead vocals are awesome, hitting that yearning Tim Granada/Sid Herring teen innocence we all worship, and making even the lesser tracks shine. Those vocals and the evocative, heartfelt Farfisa organ may recall the All Of Thus album from upstate New York, another obscure garage behemoth, but again I would rate the Mystery guys higher. I'm inclined to credit Chicagoans New Colony Six with a certain influence on the overall style, but oddly the end result reminds me even more of English band Complex whose marvy first LP is one of the few true garage-sounding Brit albums. Apart from the vocal/organ similarities there's a freshfaced teen enthusiasm and brooding sophomore melancholy that connect these two little-known wonders. (lp notes)

Buy this album

Not much more to say about this ultra-rare album, read carefully the info, its very interesting! ! ! Dig it.



Pablo "Pochola" Cazorla said...



henry said...

i wouldn't call it a lost garage classic, but it does sound like almost any band you'd hear at a local dance, or concert in the mid-60's. Really reminds me of those gone-by days. Pretty good original material, with that great garage raw and tough sound. Absolutely wonderful write-up. Gracias. (sadly that's about all the Spanish i know.)

Anonymous said...

thank you for another rare album. Great music.

Maximiliano said...

Excelente, a este no lo encontraba en las bateas.
Gracias viejo.

mar said...

Tambien me llevo este, gracias perla.

Una cosita queria preguntarte maestro, busco el Bombora de los Atlantics...¿tĂș podrias ayudarme?
Ya me dices algo ;)

StevenK said...

Terrific stuff! Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

Aw, no more file, would love to see this one re-uploaded!

leishman88 said...

any chance of a re-up? have it on cd but is miles away back home and want to stick a song of it on a mixtape. would be soo grateful!

Pablo Cazorla (aka The Bomber) said...

leish...coming soon
thanks x your comment

leishman88 said...

no problem. is a great blog.

i actually found with a bit of google magic that your file is still alive. http://rapidshare.com/files/27665920/Mystery_Meat_-_1968_-_Profiles.rar

dunno whats happen to the link above. been ages since i've heard them but was just the stuff for the mixtape!

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Anonymous said...

The drummer of the mystery meat is my old drummers dad. His son's name is Sterling Walden. Runs in the family.