Mother's Finest: six songs to get you started

Mother's Finest's Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy onstage
(Image credit: Tom Hill/Getty Images)

Atlanta's Mother’s Finest came to prominence at the start of the 70s and caused a stir with their pioneering mix of black funk and white rock. It was a combination that was heresy to some, but the band were a fierce live proposition – sharing stages with the likes of Black Sabbath, The Who, AC/DC and Aerosmith – and released a string of classic albums between 1972 and 1979.

The band went on hiatus in the early 80s but reformed at the end of the decade, and they’re still in action today (opens in new tab), with founding singers Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy and Glen ‘Doc’ Murdoch remaining a potent partnership. 

These six songs will get you started. 

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Fire
The opening track of the definitive Mother's Finest album established a signature sound, with guitarist Moses Mo cranking out a riff that Ted Nugent would have sold his loincloth for, and Joyce Kennedy’s voice burning with soul and sexuality.

Niggaz Can't Sing Rock & Roll
If ever a song said ‘fuck you’, it was this one. The music was as heavy as the irony, the message controversial to some and misunderstood by others. As bassist Jerry ‘Wyzard’ Seay recalled: “Some people thought it was a white band singing it!”

My Baby
Wyzard put it most succinctly when he said of this track: “This is total MF funk.” A key track from the band’s second self-titled album, it boasts a guitar riff that’s as ballsy as anything on the first Montrose record.

Mickey's Monkey
In the days before mash-ups were a thing, Mother's Finest fused a Motown dance-craze chant with the grinding riff from Led Zeppelin’s Custard Pie. Seeing the Zep song had plundered an old blues number, it was fair game.

Piece Of The Rock
Mother's Finest always played deep in the pocket, and never more so than on Piece Of The Rock. A song that MF have always played live, it’s the very definition of funk rock. 

Movin' On
Mothers Finest’s 1981 album Iron Age was aptly titled. It’s seriously heavy stuff, as evidenced by opening track Movin’ On, with the band at full power and Kennedy singing the shit out of it, as only she can.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”

With contributions from