Mother's Finest (1973)

(Thank you Mettle H for the correction...)

A post-Sly race- and gender-integrated funk-rock band, Mother's Finest is stylistically somewhere between Rufus and Funkadelic, though they never achieved anywhere near the cultural impact of either. To a certain extent, Mother's Finest fell into the "Apartheid-Oriented Radio" trap, in which any African-American rocker between Jimi Hendrix and Vernon Reid - leaving Prince out of the discussion for now - was unable to get mainstream media attention.

It's not exactly unfair that fellow outcasts Funkadelic have achieved latter-day veneration as psychedelic funk/rock pioneers while the Finest haven't - Funkadelic was far more innovative, unpredictable and influential, plus they flat-out wrote better songs - but taken on their own terms Mother's Finest has pleasures to offer. Lead vocals are traded between Joyce Kennedy (who recalls Tina Turner's mix of roughness and control) and Glenn Murdock, original rhythm section "Wyzard" and "B.B. Queen" kept an enviable pocket, and the band has written most of its own material.

The band's debut on RCA; this didn't chart after, the band says, record company-imposed instrumental "sweetening" was added to the raw tracks. Instrumentation includes lots of organ - if the only thing you know about two early 70s acts is that one used organ and the other clavinet, go with the clavinet - and some vaguely churchy piano ("Sweeten The Air You Breathe") while the lyrics are mostly hippie well-wishing and bad puns ("You'll Like It Hear"). If that seems a bit dated for 1973, well, it was: songs like "You Make Me Feel So Good" sound like Rotary Connection circa 1968. But they do hit on a couple of steady grooves ("You'll Like It Here") and the rhythm section holds up their end even when everyone else doesn't ("Dear Sir And Brother Mann"). (review by Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews)

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