What do you get if you combine the talents of a Canadian, a Brazilian, a Mancunian, a Czech Jewish Indian Londoner, all playing real unfettered rock and roll and add a Reverend on keyboards? the answer my friend isn’t blowin’ in the wind, it sits right here on my turntable and it makes me dance like nothing else on earth, it is MFC Chicken Music For Chicken. As if you didn’t know! I can’t find another soul who has ever heard of them and that’s a MFC tragedy! This was easily my favourite LP of 2012 and I’m not sure I have actually bought a much better one since, certainly nothing as fun.
I picked this up in the shrine to joy that is Probe Records in Liverpool, because of its wonderful retro-styled cover, the sleevenotes on the back*, the fact that one track is called ‘Love (Is Gonna Fuck You Up)’ and just something about the way Reverend Parsley smiles. Sometimes you win buying this way, sometimes you lose – boy did I win big on this one! It’s a wonderful rock and roll record and by that I don’t mean a rockabilly, this is much more your late 50’s / early 60’s take on it – saxophone driven, small drum kits, clean guitar and rhythms I really can’t resist. I also really like the way that whilst this a fun, often very funny record, they play it damn straight – this is not some half-assed send up but real music that swings, crows and rocks like a rooster!
Now the band’s name strikes me as some puerile sweary fun at the expense of a certain colonel’s franchise, which will do me just fine. I’m also a big fan of the faux chicken craze the band are peddling here, as the sleevenotes (swoon!) say,Tired of the twist? Weary of the Watusi? Hungover from the Hully Gully? Sounds like it’s time you tasted THE CHICKEN!’
As someone who likes to jig about a bit on occasion, I wish we lived in a world that still had dance crazes. I love the idea of times past when you would have to run home and learn how to hand jive one week, how to do the swim the week after etc. etc. It was about making an effort, something we don’t have to do so much any more. I’d happily strut my stuff, if given half a chance, to the likes of ‘Chicken, Baby, Chicken’, ‘Family Value Meal (Music For Chicken)’ and the wonderfully titled, ‘God Surf The Queen’, in whatever the proscribed fashion was. MFC Chicken also introduce their own brand-new craze called ‘Laundromatic’ – ‘I’m telling you now you’re gonna be a fanatic / about the brand-new dance they call the laundromatic’; wheels within wheels.
Boiled down to its basics this is an LP full of crazed instrumentals, songs about broken hearts, lust and fast food; basically everything any self-respecting person could need. I love every nano-second of this baby, but in time-honoured fashion here are my faves. The public-transport-as-lust-capsule tale of ‘Every Girl On The Tube’, where the hapless protagonist sings,I’m in love with every girl on the tube I must be a fool, or some kind of rube I’m in love with every girl on the bus I think I got a problem that I’ve got to discuss I get overwhelmed when I’m outside I got this kinda feeling that I just can’t hide**
Then the sax kicks in and just takes us elsewhere, before the guitar break, one self-deprecating verse later and we’re over and done 2:31. I love the whole short song thing, I always have it’s what the Ramones cut it all back to, the essentials – this type of music doesn’t need any more than 2:31, chuck it out there and play another one before people get bored. Not that I could EVER be bored with Music For Chicken. The uber-mental rocking instrumental ‘Wild Safari’, also just does it for me for different reasons. The swampy, stompy rocking ‘Royal We’ is a special moment on an LP full of them too.
For me though the crowning glory is one of the reasons I picked this LP up in the first place, ‘Love (Is Gonna Fuck You Up)’, 2:05 of genius this time. Again, this track just rocks like a big chicken-y beast and it really highlights one of my favourite things about this band the way that lead vocalist Spencer Evoy is also the saxophonist and so you either get vocals or sax and he is a hell of a player; the lead break here is just incredibly good. Even better is the last verse where he’s so passionate about what he’s singing you can’t make out a Goddamned word. It also has swearing, which nets them huge 1537 bonus points anyway, not that MFC need them, they’re streets ahead of most of the competition anyway.So you promised me you’ll love ’til the end of time But you can give it six months and you’ll probably change your mind
It’s all really good though and the band are all great, everything is played just right, Alberto Zioli’s guitaring and Ravi Low-Beer’s drumming really stand out for me, as do the excellent use of backing vocals throughout. Sorry, I know I’m gushing here but I really can’t praise this one enough. But back to the trivia, the LP artwork^ is immense. The way they replicate the dirty and worn seams of old records is simply a thing of joy and beauty to behold. Dirty Water Records consistently put out LPs with great covers, I love record labels that have a real aesthetic to them.
But that’s enough from me, having listened to ‘Love (Is Gonna Fuck You Up)’ seven times in a row whilst writing this, I’m off to embarrass my children by dancing and miming my way all the way through the second side of Music For Chicken again. (makes chicken noises)
(sorry Canadians, I wish I could share this with you properly)
*SLEEVENOTES !! SLEEVENOTES !! SLEEVENOTES !!
**later: ‘I get overwhelmed in public places / So many women with beautiful faces’. Genius.
^totally wasted on the CD, I know this because I bought it for my mum for mother’s day last year.
Possible inspiration for this post, Easter cupcakes from Mrs 1537, today: