|It’s All Meat were from Toronto and in 1969 – 70 recorded a couple 45s and an lp for Columbia, released only in Canada. Their first 45, “Feel It”, is great hard rock garage. The second, “You Don’t Notice the Time You Waste”, is from just a year later, but the band had definitely matured.|
To me, at this point they sound like the New York Dolls, even though this is three years before the Dolls even got together. This song is also on their very rare lp, which has many other good tracks like “Make Some Use of Your Friends” and “Crying Into the Deep Lake”. Despite good song writing and a promising sound, the band broke up before anything could really get going.
Band members were Jed MacKay – organ, piano and lead vocals, Rick Aston – bass and vocals, Rick McKim – drums, Wayne Roworth – guitar, and Norm White – guitar. All their songwriting was done by McKim and MacKay, who also produced one of the great Canadian garage 45s, the Underworld’s “Bound” / “Get Away”.
Since writing about It’s All Meat here a few months back, I started corresponding with Jed MacKay, keyboardist, singer and songwriter for the band. Here are his answers to the many questions I had. Jed has also kindly given me permission to post three songs of unreleased tracks by the Underworld, taken from a rare acetate.
“The Strange Experiment of Dr. Jarrod” is a psychedelic gem, driving, frantic, with cool lyrics and all hell breaking loose after the guitar solo! There can’t be many unreleased songs that come up to the level of this classic!
“Love 22” is a fine pop garage song taken at a very fast tempo.
Finally there’s a longer version of “(Tied and) Bound” which had been edited by about a minute for the 45.
|Jed MacKay: Rick and I weren’t in the Underworld – we just produced them. We were in the process of forming It’s All Meat at the time. The singer was Ken Ketter (known as Mondo), and the lead guitarist was Jim “Spanish” Carmichael. A footnote is that their drummer – Gil Moore – went on to form the successful band Triumph.|
Q. How did you come to produce the Underworld?
Jed MacKay: Rick’s mother knew Gil Moore’s mother. We went out and had a listen, liked them, and decided to try and get them recorded. Regency was a pretty successful label, but our stuff was too wild for them. It was early ’68 – Regency (and mainstream radio) were still trying to deal with the sonic universe Jimi had opened up. I believe “Bound” was released as the A side. I don’t remember ever hearing it on the air. “Go Away” was deemed too wild for radio as was another unreleased track, “The Strange Experiment of Dr. Jarrod.” They didn’t suggest we produce anything else for them either!
Q. Was there a 4th song recorded at those sessions?
Jed MacKay: Yes, we recorded Go Away, Dr. Jarrod, (Tied and) Bound, and Love 22. We’d hoped “Jarrod” would be the A-side of the 2nd single, and were trying to make sure of it. It never crossed our minds that Go Away/Bound would be too much for radio, effectively scuttling all future plans. Love 22 was definitely a b-side, very much a 60s song.
Q. I read that Rick McKim’s dad was president of Phonodisc and that’s what helped sign the Underworld. Is this true? Did that connection help It’s All Meat get onto Columbia?
Jed MacKay: It certainly helped get The Underworld recorded. It’s All Meat was managed by a guy who called himself Jack London – (he’d had a hit as Jack London and the Sparrows – some of whom went on to form Steppenwolf I think) – and Jack was responsible for our Columbia deal.
Q. Were you in bands before It’s All Meat?
Jed MacKay: From 1965-67, Rick and I were in a band called the Easy Riders. Our repertoire mostly consisted of blues, & Stones, Kinks, with some amped up folk stuff as well.
Q. Was It’s All Meat named after the Animals song?
Jed MacKay: The name of the band was inspired by a dog food commercial that boasted “100% meat – no filler.”
Q. Did It’s All Meat play many live shows or tour?
Jed MacKay: We played around Toronto, and out of town now and then. Our home base was a club called The Cosmic Home.
Q. How was the Toronto scene in the 60’s and early 70’s? Did you know any other bands there like the Ugly Ducklings, David Clayton Thomas, Dee & the Yeomen, etc? What did you think of them?
Jed MacKay: To be honest, we were so busy rehearsing and playing, we really didn’t get to be a part of their scene. They were all just a little ahead of us, I think. We were certainly aware of them, just never really crossed paths with them.
Q. The lp lists the band members, but who sang? What kind of organ and keyboards did you play at the time?
Jed MacKay: I was the lead singer on every released track except Wayne sang lead on the LP cut “Self-Confessed Lover”. “If Only” – that was Rick Aston’s lead. Otherwise he sang the harmonies. I played a Gibson 101, which had a pretty good piano sound, organ sound, and a few others. Kind of a primitive synth.
Q. It’s All Meat is a fantastic album, professional production and songwriting, of the time yet ahead of it in some ways. It’s surprising that the band didn’t release any more records, as you obviously had a lot of promise.
Jed MacKay: It’s a shame the band broke up. We had lots of material to go, but couldn’t hold it together. Some of the unrecorded songs will surface in a musical I’m currently working on.
Q. Were you happy with the Canadian music scene in the 70’s?
Jed MacKay: I always found stuff to like, but it wasn’t as interesting to me as the eclectism and experimentation of the 60’s.
Article on the Cosmic Home from the Toronto Daily Star, June 7, ’69
Click for larger version
|Guitarist Wayne Roworth recently contacted me and gave his story about the band in answer to my questions:|
Jed MacKay commented to me on Wayne’s audition: “He had a Rickenbacker 12 string and a Les Paul. Norm had a Strat. We liked the variety. He’s right about the audition – I think it was in the basement of a church called St Lawrence United, on Bayview south of Lawrence. Rick and I had played Toronto’s first rock’n’roll church service there a couple of years earlier with our previous band, The Easy Riders. It was such big news it got a front page photo in the Toronto Star!”
It’s All Meat is legally reissued on CD on the Hallucinations label with bonus demo tracks and the Feel It single included. It was also issued on vinyl by Void Records in the late 1990’s in a fine gatefold cover with a 7″ of the Feel It single and a glossy photo of the band. Jed tells me that 2009 should see another limited release of the material on Hallucinations.
I want to thank Jed MacKay for his time in answering my inquiries and permission for posting the unreleased tracks, and to Wayne Roworth for his recollections. Thanks also to Mark Taylor and Masterbeat64 for their high-quality label scans and rips of the original Underworld 45 and also to Wesley for sending me the article on the Cosmic Home. Thank you to Ivan Amirault for the scans of the RPM articles.
Ad for first 45, RPM, November 23, 1969
Don McKim in RPM, January 10, 1970
Short article on It’s All Meat, RPM, November 23, 1969
mentions positive review from Ryerson’s Eyeopener
RPM, August 22, 1970