The RingMaster Review: MFC Chicken "Solid Gravy!"
If their debut album Music for Chicken had feet and emotions exhausted from its unrelenting revelry and thrilling sounds then have paramedics on speed dial as its successor Solid Gravy is a much more voraciously devilish and creatively incendiary stomp. Created by UK band MFC Chicken, their new album just rampages through ears and passions like an insatiable cyclone of mischief and feverishly flavoured rock ‘n’ roll.
The seeds of the band began with Canadian Spencer Evoy who moved to London on what he called a pilgrimage to the recording studio of Joe Meek. The vocalist/saxophonist found himself on Holloway Road and seduced by the aroma of a fried chicken shop began busking to raise funds to feed his grumbling stomach. His sounds caught the attention of bassist Bret Bolton living above said shop who called out to the musician below. Their meeting and mutual interests led to the formation of MFC Chicken days later, its name coming from the now closed down establishment at the heart of their meeting. Enlisting guitarist/vocalist Alberto Zioli, keyboardist/vocalist Reverend Parsley, and drummer Ravi Low-Beer, the quintet and their blend of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, surf, and garage rock found an eager and voracious appetite around the city and further afield. Music for Chicken helped push that spotlight into a world-wide attention with the band constantly touring and feeding the globe their vivacious sounds. Now with bassist Fernando Terror recruited MFC Chicken has struck again not only in their unrelenting touring but with another exhilarating new album.
The Dirty Water Records released Solid Gravy sets off as it means to go on with Chicken ‘Bout You, teasing percussive coaxing playing around a devilish riff to instantly seduce attention and appetite. A spoken suggestiveness equally plays with ears and thoughts to help widen an already breaking smile, the band swiftly enticing the ladies with a winking narrative and the fiery flame of sax from Evoy matched by the delicious sonic lure of guitar. It is ‘merely’ the lead in to the album but already firing up the passions which the riveting Pocahontas enslaves further. The track roars as you would expect from the off, roguish chants setting the scene as a tribal stomp of forceful rhythms alongside acidic guitar enterprise crowd and dance around a spinal lure provided by the pulsating bass. The track does not arguably surprise with its rampant sound and resourcefulness but certainly sets a powerful wave of greed and satisfaction in motion.
(Get Outta The) DJ Booth blazes in ears next, its initial flame of guitar offering a Johnny Kidd and the Pirates like bait which the song relaxes into and strolls purposefully within from there on in. The song strides with a fifties gait under a pungent web of sonic invention and punchy keys which catches the breath, a Little Richard and Jay Hawkins texture and spicing adding to the pleasure. Its potent presence is instantly matched by the outstanding Voodoo Chicken, its sixties garage rock rascality aflame with the ever scorching sax invention of Evoy, irresistible hooks, and a quite infectious air to its overall endeavour.
From one pinnacle on the album to another, one of the very best tracks on Solid Gravy comes in the thrilling shape of I’m Her Pet. Grinning with an open swagger and flirty attitude, the track bounces along with keen restraint whilst rhythms jab tauntingly and gruff vocals aligned to a spicy guitar roam and show their wares with skilled temptation. As with many of the songs there is a familiarity to it though as with most, it is undefined for the main as evidenced in the following flurry of Hot Friend. With melodic impishness thrusting its hips around like a girl gracing the dance floor of The Cavern Club back in the sixties, the instrumental flings its recognisable yet unique bait at the passions with little thought of subtlety or restraint.
Both the perky (Show Me The) Gravy with its animated sax and guitar sculpted culinary plea, and the virulently contagious Baby Don’t Wanna Talk About Chicken with its juicy ribs of choice hooks and bass seducing, keep the album sizzling in thoughts and emotions, the second of the two especially tasty with its intermittent raucous flight of caustic rock ‘n’ roll around an irritatingly addictive chorus. Their inescapable tempting is soon backed up by the refreshing romp of Well Now, its Eddie Cochran/ Johnny Burnette touch another healthy variation to the voice of the album. It is as catchy as new velcro and a party for body and passions, one more song in the batch of fourteen impossible to avoid joining in with.
The surf fuelled premise of M.F. Sea Chicken washes spiritedly over senses next, its shimmering air and smouldering beauty within a fiery net of sonic persuasion and heavily suited rhythms pure toxic beauty merging the warmth of Jan & Dean with the warped causticity of The Ghastly Ones, and the twisted pop of The B52s. Its lingering instrumental prowess is soon lost though in the swing of Chicken Shack and the blues rapacity of Horseshit. The first is another incitement of rhythmic hips and flowing melodic frivolity led by a mischievous intent whilst the second of the two explores ears with a raw mix of Ray Charles and Fats Domino and a strong whisper of King Salami and the Cumberland 3.
The album comes to a close with firstly with the sultry rockabilly majesty of White Leather Boots and lastly the ridiculously captivating creative and lyrical devilment of Dirty Little Bitch, both tracks exceptional teases of fire bred sax invention and uncompromising hooks aligned to similarly unrelenting rhythmic enticement. Both also show the depth and expanse of the invention and sound of the band to leave lips licked and passions full.
As impressive as their debut was MFC Chicken have turned their charm, diablerie, and colourful sound into a much stronger and irresistible proposition with Solid Gravy, and still they leave you feeling hungry afterwards and not only for them.