Mystery Meat

From Wayne Joplin:
The LP was recorded in Carlinville, Illinois in the winter of '67-'68. It was actually recorded in the basement of the administration building of Blackburn College where all of the band members were students.
The 12 tracks were all original songs written by Ron O'Dell or myself. Ron and I had been in other groups separately and together for several years. I had connections with Director Records ( a custom label subsidiary of RCA). Ron had written a few tunes that were in a register too high for either of us to sing and we brought Dick on board to sing on the LP.
Steve Oberman did the engineering and editing as well as " borrowing" the college's equipment which consisted of four old Electrovoice mics and a PA amplifier which served as our mixer. The 12 tracks were recorded live unless Oberman worked some kind of magic on the two track tape recorder when we weren't in the basement. Gary Walden was the percussionist and Bob Rentz was the keyboard player.
The real musician and "genius" behind the group was probably O'Dell. Dick had a good tenor voice, Rentz was a good organist, and Gary was a great drummer.
I knew about six chords on guitar, could play mediocre bass and could sing a little. We only played one time live as MM although O'Dell and I had played with another band called Shane several times live. MM was put together to record the songs that Ron and I had worked on since '65.
Ironically neither O'Dell or myself were happy with the recording.
We were actually embarrassed by it.

From Dick Leighninger
We are NOT the band described in That write-up is completely bogus. NONE of us are from Peoria.
The folks who wrote that used Peoria (I suppose) because that's where the guy was from who first put our album on eBay. Thomas (from Shadoks/Psychedelic Music), I believe, explained to me that that write-up was done, in jest, by some of the more well-known collectors.
We were all college students at Blackburn College, in Carlinville, Illinois, not junior high students in Peoria. We recorded the album in the basement of our college's administration building, because it was the ONLY place on our campus where we could make noise at night, and not disturb anyone. Blackburn has a work-study program, where all students (then) worked at least 15 hours a week, to pay for their room and board. The program was run entirely by students. I was the Men's Work Manager (back in the '60s we were sexist about such things...there was also a Women's Work Manager, and we had "mens" jobs and "womens" jobs), and I had the key to the building! The students at Blackburn had built this building over a period of about five years. The basement at that time was totally undeveloped....just a metal staircase downstairs, and concrete walls all around. Not the best acoustics for recording, but we didn't have a lot of choice. The town the college is in has about 5,000 residents, and at least in 1968, there were no sound studios. Even if there HAD been a sound studio to use, it's doubtful that we could have afforded the rental.
There were five of us in the band. Wayne played bass guitar and wrote some of the songs; Ron O'Dell played lead guitar and wrote the rest of the songs, Bob Rentz played keyboard, Gary Walden played drums, and I was the lead "vocalist". All the songs were written by Wayne and Ron. We recorded the album just for the heck of us, primarily just for us. We really had no intention of making a living from this. But there was a minimum number of records that we had to buy, so Wayne fronted the money, took our tapes to the RCA subsidiary in St. Louis, and had the records made. The company made the cover for us as part of the cost. My younger brother and I designed the cover. When the supply of records came back to campus, we all got one or two, and Wayne sold the rest on campus for $4 each.
I graduated that year, and never saw the guys again....until this July, when a record collector from Texas called me to tell me our album was for sale at eBay. The guy who was selling it was from Peoria. He bought it from a friend of his, who found it in a yard sale. He apparently paid $.50 for it. I subsequently found phone numbers for Wayne, Steve (our sound guy) and Gary in a Blackburn College Alumni Directory, and called them. We can't find Rentz or O'Dell, unfortunately. But, our college will be doing an article on us in the next Alumni magazine, and I'm pretty sure that one or more of Bob and/or Ron's classmates will know where they are.
When you ask why the album was never released, I think I explained that above. We had no intention of turning a profit. We did it primarily for the experience, and for the fun of it. And since we actually sold the silly things in our student union, from our perspective, it WAS released! We just never marketed them to record stores. This group, "Mystery Meat" was formed out of a band called Shane that included both Wayne and Ron. Wayne may want to chip in on that. We chose the name "Mystery Meat" because we really weren't sure of our direction; we were just a group of five guys who literally formed up, just for the purpose of recording Wayne's and Ron's songs. There was a strange, mysterious, frozen veal-like cutlet that was served in our college dining hall on a regular basis.
The type of gravy that it was served under, was supposed to determine what kind of meat it was supposed to taste like. If it was served with Chicken gravy, it was supposed to be chicken. If it was served with beef gravy, it was supposed to be beef. That theme seemed to match our schizophrenic orientation, so we took the name.
Interestingly, a few weeks ago, there was a Fox Trot cartoon (by Bill Amend) in the papers which showed a bunch of college students standing in line for lunch in a college dining hall. The cartoon references "mystery meat", so it shows that the name still has meaning amongst those who live on institutional meals.

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