Live review from Underground 95:
2. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
3. Pick Up the Pieces
Underground debutantes MPC took the stage next definitely looking the epitome of a jazz-funk band (especially guitarist Kenneth), with an all-Fender axe attack (and a keyboardist who looked remarkably like surf-skateboard pioneer Jeff Ho). Their tuning up left even less to the imagination, with some Alan Parsons/Ray Manzarek organ tones being used. Chicken began with a classic Grateful Dead sound, covered in sax, followed by a very Parliament/Funkadelic bridge. Being possibly the best-suited to exploit the range of the sound system, they had some impressive sonic variety, with all the bases covered in terms of instruments. They keys mirroring the sax added some delightful nuances to their sound. They followed this up with the jazz standard Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; the classic groove-based number, featuring some awesome slap-bass. The structure of the song involved the guitars and sax doing some groove-riffing on the melodic foundation of the keys and other guitar, with the groove changing periodically as the jam went on, even finding its way into bluesy territory. However, at points, one wished they would sustain their grooves a bit longer, as the improvised groove needs a bit of time to infect the listener. There were also some classic crunching grooves and accents, reminiscent of Phish, that were simply a joy to listen to. The most funky beginning thus far heralded their rendition of Average White Band’s Pick Up the Pieces, hearkening back to P-Funk and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. Again, their jam brought in a little of the spirit of the blues into the song, moving subtly on to the more heady mood of the jazz bands of the 70s, to almost Sun Ra-like proportions. The set was finally closed with some lovely noodling guitars and a flourishing groove thoroughly imbued with the spirit of George Clinton.