It’s All Meat

It’s All Meat- 100 percent Meat and No Filler!
By Christopher Duda (SugarBuzz Svengali)

In the early ’60s, the Toronto scene was comprised of small, intimate, colloquial meeting spaces usually limited to old store fronts or church basements and tagged under the cumulative epithet of “Coffee Houses”. These alcohol free venues supported early Toronto folk artists such as Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Murray McLauchlan and Bruce Cockburn. It is rumored that Phil Ochs-“Changes” and Joni Mitchell’s-“Clouds” were procreated in the upstairs backroom of perhaps one of Toronto’s better-known coffeehouses of the time-“The Riverboat” which was located in the infamous Yorkville area. Around 1964 with the British incursion, the Yorkville scene sluggishly reared its sleepy heads and inaugurated the adoption of rock and roll into these cozy quarters. Once this mercury spread into the late ’60s most coffeehouses had totally exuviated the folk tradition and embraced the coming whitecap of rock and roll.

Jed MacKay and Rick McKim not only embraced the forging British Invasion with open arms and open ears they substantiated a plan to march with the impending forces. The first tours of the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Beach Boys did not manage to pass the radar of these long time friends and proved to be very influential in the coming months and years.

Jed and Rick had already begun the process of collaborating on writing songs by the time they saw these early tours.YorkvilleVillagewas deep within their sensors as well as clubs onYonge Streetsuch as The Hawk’s Nest and The Colonial. At the time being underage, it was hard to get into these clubs but it was not made without numerous attempts and success at some ventures that they managed to see bands like The Hawks or Roland Kirk. The Hawks Nest eventually did afternoon alcohol free shows exposing nubiles to a musically vibrant time inTorontoall the while linking to the buzz that vibrated like a well-used vibrator across the world.

Being bitten by the rock and roll scarab Jed and Rick soon began the task of building their first band –The Easy Riders. The year was 1965 and they were ready to expose their four piece blues/R’N’B band to the awaiting ears of the new wave of pot smoking youth. The band consisted of Rick McKim on drums, Jed MacKay on keyboards and vocals, Mike Coatsworth on lead guitar and Greg Keith whom did the majority of the singing. Peter Thorne was the bassist for the last half year of their existence and up until then the keyboard played the bass lines (move over “The Doors”). From ’65 to ’67-The Easy Riders played everything from frat parties to Charlie Brown’s in the Village.

Unfortunately nothing was recorded at the time or is known to exist to document this band (check your attics!). The band was certainly ahead of it’s time and definitely started the process of laying down the blueprint for the impending sonic assault to come. The Easy Riders shining moment came when they performed a rock church service composed by Jed and Rick. One could only imagine the congregation joining in prayer to the angelic songs of The Easy Riders. Once again, those songs are lost to time given the spiritual reflections of a couple of renegade ex-Anglicans! The concert landed a big photo spread on the front of the Toronto Star, circa ’66. It was around 1967 that the flame was doused on The Easy Riders and Jed and Rick went on to begin forming and mutating into –“It’s All Meat” aptly named after a dog commercial that exclaimed-“100 % meat and no filler” and not the Animals song by the same title. It was also around this time that they produced four tracks for The Underworld -Bound/Go Away and two unreleased tracks-The Strange Experiment of Dr.Jarrod and Love 22. On a side note, the Underworld consisted of singer Ken “Mondo”Ketter, lead guitarist Jim “Spanish” Carmichael and drummer Gil Moore who subsequently went on to bang his head in the quasi-metal band-“Triumph”. Rick and Jed’s foray into production did not produce the wanted results for Regency records in 1968 and successively the tracks were not spun on the airwaves. It was a time when Regency records and mainstream radio were still coming to terms with the sonic universe that Jimi Hendrix had blown kiss the sky wide open for many to enter and never return intact.

Rick and Jed began the daunting task of finding other band members that had similar influences and palettes as diverse as Zodiac Cosmic Sounds, The Earth Opera, The Velvet Underground, Merle Haggard and John Coltrane. The proverbial classic ad was laid out in the paper and the awaiting calls did not take long to reach the skeleton of the existing band.

Setting up camp in the basement of a church called the St.Lawrence United on Bayview Avenue the process of recruitment began (this was the same church they had played at as The Easy Riders-Praise the Lord!). Through this tedious process, they finally found Norm White and his ’64 Fender Strat guitar and Rick Aston with his Rickenbacker bass with nylon strings. Alas, it was now time to cement the final line up with another battering of guitar sounds. In steps, a young 18-year-old Wayne Roworth weaned on a dual pick up Sears guitar and assorted Ventures fare. Knocking confidently on the heavy basement church dwellers audition space, Wayne showed up with two guitars-a ’69 Gibson Custom Gold Top and his fathers Rickenbacker 12 string. Jed requested that Wayneimprovise on a song called ‘Crying into the Deep Lake’. Wayne obliged by picking up his fathers Rickenbacker and playing a melody in the key of G. In the end however it was Wayne’s moody picking that landed him the final spot.

A home base was soon established called the Cosmic Home club. Rick Gooderham and Nancy Renfrew owned the club and became the leading lights of the cabal of devotees that bowed and licked the feet of It’s All Meat! Rehearsals took place daily as they sought out to moil, toil, gel and create. The Cosmic Home club was located onToronto’s famedYonge Streetin a small storefront on a quiet suburban area. It was the antithesis of the famed Yorkville that at this point had now established itself like a snobby member’s only country club (Honey, try the caviar it is simply deeevviiinnne). The Cosmic Home was small and narrow and It’s All Meat were loud and unruly. In the world of rock and roll this was a matrimony built to last until death do they depart. At the time, overdrive pedals were very primitive so being ingenious Norm White used the output of one amp to drive the other larger one thus creating so much gain it was a prescription for instant tinnitus! It’s All Meat might have been the defining Canadian zeitgeist of their generation if they only waited another 10 years for the impending punk explosion. Irrupting into spoon-fed large doses of rock and roll down the Cosmic’s rabid fans gullets one fat chord at a time awoke the sleepy coffee sipping trolls out of thelandofNod. Picture the first robin of spring feeding a fat regurgitated dew worm down the chirping offspring and you get the vibe. It was a miracle that the protectors of social and moral compass cops did not come busting through the door at any given moment. They would have dropped their day old donuts only to find Norm White using his chrome microphone stand as a slide all the while stabbing his headstock of his Strat into the ceiling tiles. If the keystone cops were not worked up into, a rabid lather at this point they might have also tripped over patrons that were blasted through the front door with the sheer volume of mayhem or possibly splattered with Rick McKim’s blood, caused by hitting his knuckles on the snare rim. It was not until the early ’70s when the club was finally demolished asTorontoCityfathers with bad perm jobs and man breasts wanted to rid their beloved city of everything that represented hippie scum. Die Hippie Die was their battle cry although they secretly wore leather thong sandals behind closed doors!

It was around this time that It’s all Meat were aware of other bands playing around the city however they were so busy rehearsing that it rarely made a dent on the band’s grey matter. In reality, the competition is non-existent if you simply do not give a flying fuck. It’s All Meat were bent on world domination and fiercely into their own thing and they sure as hell didn’t want to jump head first into anyone else’s scene (besides this could also cause a frontal lobe brain injury). Bands like The Ugly Ducklings, Paupers, Motherlode, Dee and the Yeoman, The Mandala, David Clayton Thomas and Kensington Market were slightly acknowledged but probably more largely ignored by the impending individualistic force of It’s All Meat. However, the boys did have one true pet peeve a band with an anemic name of Edward Bear who had a minor hit (‘You Me andMexico’). It’s All Meat thought of this band as mere treacle or useless dribble falling from the mouth of the ass backwards Canadian music industry. It’s All Meat were surely not getting airplay but fluff from the ass of Edward Bear was being spun in big steaming piles.

After hearing the band rehearse in an abandoned bank at the corner of King and Sherbourne in walked their manager –Jack London. It’s All Meat knew of Jack from his band from the first British wave called Jack London and the Sparrows and probably better known as containing future members of Steppenwolf. It was felt that Jack largely worked hard for the band almost getting them a deal with Buddah Records in the USA. However, it was also felt that he was using this as a pilot to skyrocket to super stardom-Up, up and away in his over inflated balloon. In the end Buddah nibbled at It’s All Meat but were left hungry and unsatisfied, perhaps they were vegetarian tofu loving connoisseurs.

Jack London was known as their manager to strut onto stage sporting a suit, tie and bowler hat introducing the band to the awaiting crowd of hippies. It was not uncommon for the band to start blasting out their tunes before Jack finished his vaudeville act thus creating the proverbial yanking cane from the side of the stage. Oddly enough Rick and Jed did do some piano and voice demos with Jack (sessions that included ‘If Jesus Were Alive Today’). However, his immortal contribution to these sessions was a tune called ‘(IJust Might Driveto)Topeka’ that was actually a shameless rip off of the Jimmy Webb classic-‘By the time I get toPhoenix’. In the end, Jack London believed in the band and this is what eventually landed them their Canadian Columbia deal.

Thus began the task of replicating and documenting their blistering live set (something many fans felt was never accomplished successfully). The first 45 was recorded at Eastern Sound on Yorkville. The guitar run on ‘Feel It’ was the last timeWayneused his old famed Gold Top before trading it in for a ’69 Gibson SG Custom. Pretty much everything else except for ‘If Jesus Were Alive Today’ was recorded at RCA studios. The actual LP sessions were done quickly in two four-hour sessions for the basic tracks, which were cut live, and about 8 hours was spent on overdubbing the vocals and piano. If memory serves the band correctly there was no editing involved and they band just decided to go with the best whole takes. Norm and Wayne shared a lot of the lead on the album.Waynestates today, “I still don’t know how to replicate the frenzied lead in ’Roll My Own’. The producer was Bill Misener whom was an experienced middle of the road pop producer and the engineer was Mark Brown. Misener had never been saddled with the likes of a band like It’s All Meat before so he simply handed the reigns over to them and let the wild horse run freely. So much for creative input! Subsequently Misener and Brown also produced sessions for the second single and demos for the second LP. Rumour has it that Brown played some rough mixes of the first LP for a woman he knew and was laid in the interim! A good omen in the view of all concerned!

Although It’s all Meat had a loyal fan base and a reputation as a great live band even opening up for Muddy Waters unfortunately radio play seemed to elude them. When you are ahead of your time and not receiving the recognition deserved, it becomes an uphill battle to survive in the dog eat dog world of the Canadian music industry especially in that day. Being fiercely independent with an uncanny ability not to conform-something future punks would hold in high regard probably had some input as to why It’s All Meat were not accepted by the boring middle of the road consuming public. The world was embracing singer/songwriters with open hippy hugging hairy arms and It’s All Meat were sonically bludgeoning every one of them into mother earth(see told you they were ahead of their time-they went Green before it was fashionable!-Recycle-Reuse!). It can be the case when bands that are misunderstood in their day are only lauded and appraised years later. Woefully, It’s All Meat faded into the impending Canadian musical landscape and members began pursuing other projects and the harsh reality of careers.

When ? and the Mysterians covered ‘Feel It’ (one of many obscure Canadian Garage ne plus ultra garage stompers) there seemed to be a renewed interest in It’s All Meat and they almost got back together for Cavestomp in New York City. Unfortunately, the band ran into some rough realities and it was better to let the legend thrive and move on.

It’s All Meat was legally reissued on the Hallucinations label with bonus demo tracks including the ‘Feel It’ single ( see Pebbles Volume 9) and it was also released on Void Records in the late 90’s in a gatefold edition with the inclusion of the ‘Feel It’ 7 inch. Rumor has it that more material may materialize on the Hallucinations label in the future but do not tell anyone that I told you! 

The known existence and whereabouts of the following members is as follows: 

Jed MacKay –Jed has worked on or created television shows that  have been aired on TVO, CBC, PBS, NBC, BBC, TLC, Nickelodeon, and throughout Europe, Australia and Asia. They have won or been nominated for every major television award in North America, Britain, and Europe, and the Middle East (!)

If time permits he plans to get a project off the ground using It’s All Meat material. 

Rick McKim- is still composing & producing music. He has written a rock musical inspired by Dante’s Inferno and is currently at work on a cabaret show of songs about 21st-century love. 

Wayne Roworth- built a log cabin on the Suwannee River in North Florida in 2004.

”It appears I am book ending my life. I started music full time at 18 for several years, worked for “The Man” for several years, now I’m back at music full time again. In the late ’90′s I took a stab at writing.”

Over the years someone gave Wayne the stage name Stayne and it stuck.
Wayne has written all of the music and played on all of the following material. Approximately 30 plus songs- Chrome Yellow, Charlie Gardner, and Men Behaving Badly

Stayne also plays fill in gigs regularly. 

Norm White is missing in action-he now goes by the name of Charlie. 

Rick Aston-passed away years ago as reported by his uncle. 

I would like to thank Jed MacKay, Rick McKim, Wayne Roworth and Chris from Garagehangover for their patience and input.