MOTHER’S FINEST – Mother’s Finest (Epic Records) [European reissue]
Some of you fellow readers requested MOTHER’S FINEST cult classic albums and here’s their first LP for Epic Records, self-titled “Mother Finest”. Not to be confused with the band’s album recorded for RCA four years before, including different material. While this “Mother Finest” album has been remastered by Rock Candy and Wounded Bird Records, I strongly recommend this first half of the ’90s European CD reissue.
Mother’s Finest released their debut LP signed by RCA, however their sound and style still wasn’t rocking like they developed after. Additionally, the band resulted very unhappy with the LP, saying the record company imposed instrumental “sweetening” added to the raw tracks. The results were “too loose for pop, not gritty enough for R&B or rock”.
Mother’s Finest would only be properly “discovered” by Epic Records staff producer Tom Werman (Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, etc.) several years later.
By then, Mother’s Finest had evolved into a fierce live proposition, armed with an explosive combination of urban funk and heavy rock, and this goes a long way toward explaining why this self-titled second try is considered one of the first heavy funk album in history.
For proof, listeners need look no further than the snarling riffs of first single “Fire,” but they may just want to stick around ‘til the iron-soul powerhouse “My Baby” rolls around, and probably even through to the very last crash of album closer “Rain,” since there is very little filler to be found in between.
That first single, for example, may have stalled at number 93 on the American pop charts, but that’s difficult to understand once Mother’s Finest’s co-lead vocal team of Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy (as fiery as Tina Turner, as soulful as Chaka Khan) and her hubby Glenn Murdock (no slouch himself) start going toe to toe.
Not to be outdone, the band’s instrumental contributors proceed to stretch their wings to the fullest on an epic jam named “Give You All the Love (Inside of Me),” showcasing funky strums and crunchy chords from Hendrix-inspired guitarist Moses Mo, pulsing clavinet from keyboard player Mike Keck, and double-trouble rhythm mastery courtesy of bassist Jerry “Wyzard” Seay and drummer Barry “B.B. Queen” Borden.
Another highlight is the confrontational “Niggizz Can’t Sang Rock & Roll,” which at the time managed to ruffle feathers on both sides of the racial divide, and featured Murdock displaying just as much passion and virtually as many vocal chops as his better half.
Unfortunately, widespread success would continue to elude Mother’s Finest despite this album’s many strengths — perhaps because their songs were ultimately built to pay bigger dividends on-stage than on the radio — and thus a star-crossed, uneven career would follow.
But for those able to appreciate where the band and its unique musical vision were coming from, it doesn’t get much better than this singular album.
1 – Fire
2 – Give You All the Love (Inside of Me)
3 – Niggizz Can’t Sang Rock & Roll
4 – My Baby
5 – Fly With Me (Feel The Love)
6 – Dontcha Wanna Love Me
7 – Rain
Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy – lead & backing vocals, percussion
Glenn Murdock – lead & backing vocals
Gary “Moses Mo” Moore – guitars
Mike Keck – keyboards, synthesizers, additional percussion
Jerry “Wyzard” Seay – bass, drums, percussion
Barry “B.B. Queen” Borden – drums, percussion