You guys know I’ve been into Mother’s Finest for about 30 years, right? I think Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy is one of America’s great unheralded rock-’n’-soul singers. She belongs on the short list with Tina Turner and Chaka Khan.
You know who agrees with me? Germany.
Yes, Germany is nuts about Mother’s Finest. Always has been. And that tickles the hell out of me, because during its 1970s heyday, Mother’s Finest only landed three singles on the R&B chart and didn’t come close to cracking the Top 40.
Funkateers and black rockers may treasure their Mother’s Finest LPs, but in Germany, that love is alive. The photograph above is from the 2003 Weihnachtsrockfestival in the city of Bendorf.
And the following video embed is from the German version of “American Idol.” Three months ago, contestant Lisa Bund sang the 1977 Mother’s Finest semi-hit “Baby Love.” (Not to be confused with the Motown tune.) If somebody on the American “American Idol” sang “Baby Love,” 99 percent of the audience (and two out of three judges, at least) would have no idea what the hell it was. Anyways, check this out:
Here is more evidence of Germany’s mad love for Mother’s Finest:
Click here to see the classic lineup in 1978, rocking “Baby Love” on the German TV show “Rockpalast.” (Joyce Kennedy breaks it down magnificently around 5:00.)
Click here to see the revised band, 25 years later, doing “Baby Love” a little slower and heavier, somewhere in Germany.
Click here for a vidclip of Mother’s Finest lip-syncing to “Don’t Wanna Come Back” on the German TV show “Rock Pop” in 1978.
Click here to hear Kennedy’s stripped-down version of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” streaming on my Vox audio stash. It was recorded live in concert in Oberhausen, Germany, in 1990. It’s available on the hard-to-find CD “Subluxation.”
Click here to see a German cover band, Mo’ People, giving “Baby Love” a go at Schlossgrabenfest Darmstadt in 2006.
Now, if we add the Netherlands to the mix (why the heck not?), the party keeps on crankin’:
Click here to see a Dutch cover band, NoiZZ, doing its thing with “Baby Love.”
Click here for the real deal, Mother’s Finest at a 1993 festival show in Hellevoetsluis. Baby Jean’s got the platinum mohawk working. In case you haven’t guessed, I’ll never get tired of her singing “Baby Love.”
Auf Wiedersehen, y’all.