Red Red Meat /Califone


One long delirious swamp suite

One long delirious swamp suite

Every once in a while an “indie” record gets released that so nears greatness, and comes so far to kiss it, that it endears itself to me in a profound manner. Probably the best example is Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes, a record never far from the turntable since shoplifting it as a teenager in 1972. I’ve owned three vinyl copies and have the cd. (Vinyl #3 is another escapee of the infamous Malibu fire). In many ways, it pushes a lot of the same buttons for me as Bunny Gets Paid, Red Red Meat’s 1995 Sub Pop release, and another one of my favorite albums. They are both off-kilter country, folk, and blues rock mash-ups filled with great songs. Great listens from beginning to end that deserved bigger audiences than they got.

“Sulfur” is the amazing opener from an otherwise pretty weak last album, There’s a Star Above the Manger Tonight.
“Rosewood, Wax, Voltz+Glitter” is from Bunny Get’s Paid. I like that they used breaking glass instead of cymbals.
“Oxtail”, and “There’s Always Tomorrow” can also be found there. “Snowball” is from Red Red Meat, while “Stained And Lit” is off Jimmywine Majestic.
Tim Rutili, Red Red Meat’s leader, singer, and principle songwriter, began Califone as a solo album, which ended up with most if not everybody from Red Red Meat getting involved. Califone has fewer electric guitars, but otherwise is just an extension of where Red Red Meat was headed, anyway. Rough Diamonds are strewn across their entire discography.
“No Expectations” is Califone from somewhere unknown.

Early Red Red Meat.

Early Red Red Meat.

Red Red Meat was a ’90s Chicago-area blues-influenced alternative rock band. After their break-up, frontman Tim Rutili went on to form Califone, for which many of Red Red Meat’s former members, including producer Brian Deck, often record and perform. Tim Hurley went on to form Sin Ropas.

In 1984, Tim Rutili moved from the suburb of Addison, IL into the city to go to film school where he met bassist Glynis Johnson. Together with Ben Massarella their first band, Friends of Betty attracted a reasonable following. The 1988 studio pop album Blind Faith II included drummer John Rowan was not much of a success.

With new recruit Glenn Girard they renamed the band Red Red Meat. The bands name possibly came from Ben’s Truck washing business which cleaned meat carrying trucks on their way out of Chicago. Regarding the band name, Tim Rutili said in an interview: “i think we just thought it sounded good.” Red Red Meat released their first single disc including “Hot Nikkety Trunk Monkey” and “Snowball” in 1991. They were recorded with Brad Wood at Idful Studios in Chicago. Engineer Brian Deck who recorded the drums for the session was asked to become a full time member behind the kit, after the departure of Ben Massarella, who left for a job as a studio session drummer.

It was during the recordings at Idful Studios with Brad Wood that Sub Pop director Jonathan Poneman decided to sign the band making them the first Chicago band on the label. During the summer of 1992, Red Red Meat toured with fellow Sub Pop Chicago group The Smashing Pumpkins. Glynis Johnson left the band after ending a romance between her and Rutili after the tour. She later founded the short lived The Gore Gore Girls. Johnson would later contract A.I.D.S. and pass away due to complications that fall. The Smashing Pumpkins wrote a song “Glynis” as a tribute, which was released on “No Alternative” compilation. Sub Pop released Red Red Meat’s second album in early 1994, Jimmywine Majestic. It was a step away from the grunge and general label characteristics of Sub Pop but was generally well received. Massarella returned, instead of replacing Brian Deck on drums, began employing his “batterie” techniques. In 1995 Red Red Meat returned with “Bunny Gets Paid”, which, according to Sub Pop, “is easily one of the high points of the entire Sub Pop catalog.” In 1997 Red Red Meat released their final album, “There’s a Star Above the Manger Tonight”. (3 good songs-Ed)

Red Red Meat has since ended their contract with Sub Pop. They appeared in Scott Petersen’s film Out of the Loop, which documents the Chicago indie rock scene. RRM’s own Perishable label released Loftus in 1999. a collaboration with New York trio, Rex. Red Red Meat has since dispanded and each member has moved on to other projects. Tim Rutili along with several other Red Red Meat alumni founded Califone, a project which all Red Red Meat members have participated in at one point or another. Brian Deck currently is a American Music Producer based out of Engine Studios in Chicago, IL.



Rosewood, Wax, Voltz+Glitter
Stained And Lit
No Expectations
There’s Always Tomorrow

One thought on “Red Red Meat /Califone

  1. NowthisiswhatIcallsomegreatshit & a pleasant surprise. I’ve heard of this band for years and I guess the name was a put-off to me. Seemed to be trying just a little too hard. Unfortunately for me I never heard this shit. I’ve been a Califone nut for years and I probably have every record they’ve ever made…even the ones that are only sold at their shows. I saw them at The Getty last year and I must say it was amazing. My gal and I sat in the theater at the museum and were shocked when the band broke in to a cover of one of our favourite songs. The Orchids by Psychic TV…I would venture to guess that not another soul in the place had ever heard that song before…it was true love. I met Tim Rutili after the show and he’s quite the nice bloke. I just bought Bunny Gets Paid for $2.99 on ebay…THANKS TO YOU! Quit making me want to buy more shit!

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