Wednesday, May 2, 2007

‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy rocks your face off!

After last night’s “American Idol,” where the judges compared Melinda Doolittle to a young Tina Turner, I just have to call a reality check.

You wanna see what it looks like when a sister really rocks out? Then you gotta see Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy throw down.

She is an unsung hero of rock ’n’ roll. Been burning up the stage for decades with Mother’s Finest, an interracial rock group that had a few black-radio hits back in the ’70s but is little remembered outside the community of hardcore funk fans.

(Mother’s Finest, which made its reputation as a hellafied live band, is still performing, mostly around its home state of Georgia, with Joyce Kennedy still out front.)

Thank God for YouTube, where everything old is new again. The above clip is from a 1978 concert. It shows Kennedy and the band in their prime. The tune is “Give You All the Love (Inside of Me).” Watch Baby Jean do the arena-rock thing with gusto, then wonder why she’s not more famous. There’s more of her on YouTube, if your appetite is whetted.


quirkychick said...

This is great! I bet those were amazingly fun shows. The kind that last three hours and you dance all night. The guy on guitar shreds, but should really rethink the open shirt thing.

Thanks for turning me on to this band!

Undercover Black Man said...

I never did see them live, Suze... even though they had a huge following in D.C. But when I wrote the P-Funk oral history, this is the one band any of them would admit kicked their ass on tour... Mother's Finest.

On top of everything else, they had cool rock-star names. That badass lead guitarist is Moses Mo. (And the drummer is B.B. Queen!)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Well, this clip won't help me answer my wife's "Who are they gonna compare Melinda to other than Tina Turner?" question, but it was sure fun to watch. Thanks for the clip.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And by the above, I mean Kennedy's not famous enough for alleged musical experts Simon or Randy to have ever heard of.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thank you, Alan. And I'm willing to bet $5 that Randy is most definitely hip to Mother's Finest. (Any music released in the last 10 years, probably not so much.)

WARLOCK said...

I have been a fan of this band since their very first album in the early 70's. They were very popular in D.C and were recieved very well among black audiences as well as white. I've seen them live about five or six times, oncw with a rock band called 38 Special. 38 made a mistake and had MF open for them.38 got completely blown off the stage. The band is just incredible. They sound better live than in the studio. If you ever get the chance this is a must see band. Even at her age now Baby Jean is still as fine as any of these so called divas of today, and the band just completely rocks or funks any track laid down. To hell with this hippity hop music. This band is the real funk and rock deal.

WARLOCK said...

Hi Alan intresting post. I'll bet you $10 on top of Undercover's 5 that they both know who Joyce is. Make no mistake Tina Turner has earned her due with out a doubt. Mother's Finest has not. For this band to get more recognition in Europe than they recieve in the U.S is a gross oversite. Forget about American Idol. Go to an ole fashioned RECORD store and pick up one of these guys ALBUMS and get ready for a real treat. By the way I don't take checks (LOL)