Fried Rice & Chicken is split into two distinct sections, studio tracks recorded between 1994 and 1995 and live tracks recorded over the course of two nights in 1999. So yes, King fans do in fact get the best of both worlds on this recording.
The Jr. Walker and the All Stars classic “Cleo’s Back” gets things started in a typical King fashion—that is low-down, dirty and downright funky guitar playing. Next up is “Mean Little Woman.” King’s vocal delivery augments the blues emanating from his guitar, and you cannot help but feel sorry for the protagonist. “The Great Chinese” sounds like a mashup of “Tequila” and “Mellow Down Easy,” and while this goes down easier than tequila there is nothing mellow about it. “Kinky Cotton Fields” finds King playing some pretty lead lines that I wish would have been further developed as it shows a tender side of King that we don’t often get to hear.
The live portion of Fried Rice & Chicken was recorded at the legendary Dream Palace, a perfect complement to the music of Little Freddie King, and gets started with “Sing Sang Sung.” King does a nice job working out Freddie King’s classic “Hide Away” before slowing things down with a fine reading of Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do.” “Bad Chicken” brings the live portion to an end in a raucous fashion as King channels his inner fowl. This is King at his finest, just mining that heavy blues groove as he induces a trance-like state.
There are no guitar pyrotechnics here, nothing flashy. If you want that then don’t look to Little Freddie King. But if you want blues with a feeling, and I mean greasy, and infused with the sounds of swamp, then look no further. In a world full of imitators, King is a refreshing original. Long live da King.