“I been goin’ in and out of style now for 35 goddamn years,” Master Chef Dan Baird defiantly shouts on the opening lines of “In and Out of Style”, the opening track on the second serving from the Chefs, appropriately titled, Sing For Your Supper. The line tells no lies, as Baird has seen his brand of rock ’n’ roll battle for space at the top of the charts with the likes of Bon Jovi in his prime as well as help lay the groundwork for what we now call Americana. It also sets the stage for a 12-course aural delicacy that skirts along the edge of self-awareness while never taking itself too seriously. (Bear with me as I work out how many culinary puns I can shamelessly sneak into this review.)
Such is Baird’s modus operandi throughout his long career. As the main singer-songwriter and guiding light of the Georgia Satellites, he perfected the art of creating visceral yet literate rock ’n’ roll a la Chuck Berry channeled through the ne’er-do-well swagger of the Faces, Rolling Stones, and Bon Scott-era AC/DC. During the pandemic, he joined forces, albeit remotely, with ex-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch (the Golden Chef, who also contributes keyboards). They traded ideas back and forth until they had cooked up the recipe for Heated and Treated, an all-instrumental journey from surf rock to Creedence swamp stomp.
This time, they bring along Joe Blanton (Baird’s bandmate, co-writer, and producer on various projects, including on four albums as the Bluefields with Warner E. Hodges) as the “Secret Chef” on a variety of guitars and backing vocals. Yes, the Chefs add vocals this time out (hence the album name), and the project feels more like a formal band instead of a novelty (albeit a very well-executed) one-off.
There’s plenty here in which to sink your teeth (yes, the puns keep coming); the subtle nod of a riff to the Satellites’ “Six Years Gone” that powers “No One Left to Blame”; the dirty groove underscoring the silly yet oddly seductive, “Nothing Looks Good on You”; the all-out hick-rock assault of “When Did It Get So Easy”. The songs build upon one another before you realize that there isn’t a stinker to be found, and the Chefs, as always, sound like they’re having a blast throughout.
Amidst all the fun, there’s the inevitable acknowledgment of aging. Still, it’s done with a shrug and a wink, most explicitly on “Goin’ Back to Right Now”, a celebration of living in the present without regretting the past or fearing the future. On “‘Bout As Famous” – inspired by a line Baird used to describe Homemade Sin’s level of success to their new bass player (as in, “We’re ‘bout as famous as we’re ever gonna get”) – all three Chefs trade verses, in an obvious nod to the Band’s communal approach on songs like “The Weight”. The effect emphasizes the charming self-awareness each member has brought to this project over their collective careers. Together, these Chefs continue to cook up a rock ’n’ roll stew that keeps us returning to the kitchen for another heaping helping.