Horsemeat and Gravy

Mayfield Heights, 1969

Introduction - I (the editor) bought a copy of this acetate (from a record dealer in Meadville, PA, no idea where they got it). Thanks to annotations on the label, I was able to contact Jeff Glasser, who generously provided this fabulous tale of the disc's creation - enjoy!

This project was launched in the summer of 1969, in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. I was between my junior and senior year of high school. I was a pretty good guitar player back then; ahead of most of my peers but not popular enough to get in any kind of decent band. Like most ego-driven young folks, I figured it was time to show the world what I could do. I had written "A Dream of Possum Fat Mountain" not long before this and premiered it at a wedding where my band, Stentorian Garde, was playing for the reception. Much to my dismay, the song was greeted with a rousing round of indifference. At this time, we Clevelanders thought we were pretty sophisticated so anything that had a country edge to it was looked down upon. (And it's ironic that I wrote this song in the first place, since I don't care for country music!)

Now that I think about it, I don't remember how or why I wrote PFM. I probably tried to play something else, went off on a tangent, and started fiddling around with different sounds and chords or whatever until this song emerged. I'm not a songwriter (I think this is obvious!); this was probably one of less than a half-dozen songs I wrote in all the years I've been playing guitar.

I was kicked out the Stentorian Garde so they could hire an organist and not have to pay a rhythm guitarist. I don't know how I met them, but Stu Raskind and Dan Goldfarb were a couple of nice fellow Jewish boys from Beachwood -- the new money suburb of Cuyahoga County. Stu was a little shorter than average and slightly built, but a good drummer. Dan was large, stocky, and wore facial hair (somewhat rare for our age group). They had opposite personalities -- Dan was gregarious and outgoing while Stu was skittish and reserved. I ran the idea by them of doing this recording and they liked it. We put our heads together and being a bunch of hormone-laden teenage boys, came up with "The Stripper," a song that had been around for a while but still visible just beneath the surface.

Dan was a jazz guitarist. As we 17-year-olds matured, our musical styles likewise matured and it was something of a status symbol among us rock guitarists to say that we "were getting into jazz," which was more or less a codeword for 'I'm bored with five years of 3-chord rock music and I'm good enough that I can play on all six strings with all four fingers and add a 9th.' However, Dan walked the walk. His middle finger was injured and permanently bent over so playing diminished chords came naturally to him -- a disability this boy used to his advantage, with a sense of humor! Dan's sense of humor was quite offbeat and it was he who came up with the group name, Horsemeat and Gravy, while Stu and I came up with names that were more pedestrian -- and forgettable.

To make the recording, I contacted my high school band director and he allowed us to drag our equipment into the band room and use the school's recording hardware. We set up a couple of EV 664 microphones and ran them into a rack-mounted Viking reel-to-reel recorder. We layed down the rhythm guitar, drum, and lead tracks that summer afternoon. Once we were done with "The Stripper" I stayed behind and recorded the solo guitar track to PFM. I don't remember what kind of amp I used (perhaps an Ampeg Portaflex) but I was playing a beat-to-hell Hagrstom I at the time. It was a moderately popular and attainably-priced Fender Strat knock-off at the time but now they're quite collectible.

My best friend was a fellow named Pat Risser. He was not really a guitar player but bought a cheap bass guitar so he could fit in. I had played bass a couple of years earlier so I asked him if I could borrow it to lay down the final tracks. I don't remember how I found him, but after dinner one evening we went to the home of a man who had a professional-grade basement recording studio, which was rare at this time. I didn't have a lot of money so he cut me some slack on my session time. I sought him out because he had the ability to do overdubs...something very few individuals could do in 1969. I put down the bass track as the man played back our best take on Stripper. Pat didn't have a lot of money, either, and his bass had pretty poor intonation. If you noticed, a couple of the bass notes are a little out of tune.

Then it was time to work on Possum Fat Mountain. I think I did three overdubs of clapping, and our host may have added reverb at that stage. We spent a good couple of hours at this and I was a little worn out by the time we were finished, so I wanted to go home and collapse. As we were leaving, the guy who was doing the recording wanted me to listen to a band he had just recorded. I reluctantly agreed to stick around a few more minutes to hear it. He had me listen just outside the studio because he wanted me to hear the fidelity of his Voice of the Theater speakers (woofer+horn combos were also rare back then); it was a jazz-type brass band that he packed into his basement and he was proud of the fact that his recording sounded just like the band was still there, playing.

Next, I took the master tape downtown to Cleveland Recording for pressing. The folks there were very nice to me. The man running the place let me see how one of the women there slip-cued the tape to the dead air the instant before the music began and cut the tape to put on the leader, and kept gushing about how great she was at doing this. It didn't seem like any great feat to me but I was polite about it. The guy then began talking about Tony Mottola, one of the premier guitarists of the time, and hearing these things plus being in this environment put stars in my eyes.

Dan, Stu, and I had a little difficulty in determining how many pressings to purchase. We didn't need that many, but if we bought one more copy, the price went down. Stu didn't want to pay the extra money just to get the 'quantity discount' and Dan yelled at him, "You Jew!" We ended up buying seven. I took three so Stu and Dan must have ended up with two apiece. I gave one to Pat, one to my girlfriend, and kept the other. I don't think any copies were ever sent out to record companies or radio stations, so in the end, this was little more than an ego trip for three nice Jewish boys from the east Cleveland suburbs looking for a little fun over their summer vacation. I have two discs; it's amazing that you were able to find one of the five remaining copies. I hope I'll be able to contact your seller; perhaps it's Stu or Dan.

I lost track of Dan and Stu after the next school year. Pat and I graduated from Mayfield HS in 1970 and went our separate ways (over a girl, which is a story for another day). I went in the Air Force a couple of months after graduation. I served two tours in SEA and proudly display a Vietnam Veteran license plate on my van. I left the USAF in 1970, went to Columbus to attend Ohio State, and have been here ever since. Here's what I do now: