Hard - psych rock music in the U.K. was quite popular in the late 60s, for many bands emerged from the underground, some of them succeeded in gaining even world recognition while most remained unknown to a wider audience. One of the cities that produced some of England's finest rock material was Birmingham. The city's bombed scenery and its factory hard jobs forced many youngsters to escape this low quality life by forming bands and playing as many gigs as possible.
Formed in 1969, Hard Meat was a heavy psych trio hailing from Birmingham. Mike Dolan (vocals, guitars), Steve Dolan (bass, vocals) and Mick Carless (drums) were the core members accompanied by Pete Westbrook on flute and Phil Jump on keyboards on the second album. The trio recorded a 7" single in 1969, on Island records, including a cover of the Beatles' song Rain on side A and as a B-side their original song Burning Up Years.
The debut self titled album was released by Warner Bros. Records in early 1970 and sadly remained unnoticed at the time. With a clear yet appropriate sound this album unfolds the musicians' talents in songs like the opener Through A Window, the fine acoustic Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and the 10-minute masterpiece Run Shaker Life. Bob Dylan's Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) closes the album just the way it should, adding piano bits making it quite an interesting cover. Mike Dolan's lead vocals are a combination of Rory Gallagher's and Phil Lynott's (well, according to my ears) avoiding useless screams and out of tune singing (a black spot in the singing back then). Also, the minimal approach in the drumming serves well the structure of the songs.
Through A Window, the second and last effort, was also released by Warner Bros. in 1970 and moved the sound to a more melodic direction with the addition of flute and keyboards. More acoustic oriented than the self titled, the band experimented more with psychedelia and folk. My favourite track is Love, a fantastic piece with Uriah Heep-ish guitars and perfect singing, but I just can't forget to mention New Day with the acoustic guitar solo and the beautiful percussion, and the strictly guitar-vocals only From the Prison. I find this album on par with the first one and though it is less heavy and maybe more laid back, the songs are all very good indeed. But the band never had the attention of their company and without financial support they called it a day on the same year. Oddly enough, after the band's break-up its members didn't try anything else in music.
Hard Meat never met with success, like many bands of the kind, but these two albums will always exist just to prove that there is good music regardless the band's population. And that's why most people like the underground scene (some will say "no", I won't argue with them).