One Track Mind: Mother's Finest, “Like a Negro” (1992)

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I hadn’t thought about this song in years, but as I was writing another piece, I stumbled across a 2010 cover of it by Jackyl and Darryl McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. I thought it was pretty good. Then I looked up the original, which I probably haven’t heard in about 15 years. There was no comparison. This song flat out rocks.

It’s late night as I write this, and I’ve listened to it about 10 times in a row at volumes that put me in danger of a visit from the police, but I just can’t turn it down.

For those not familiar, Mother’s Finest is a largely overlooked funk-rock band from Atlanta that had its heyday in the 1970s with a few minor hits. They were mixing funk and hard rock well before Living Colour even thought about it. Though the funk was heavier in their 1970s material, beginning with 1981’s Iron Age, they beefed up the heavy guitars for a sound that was probably a bit ahead of its time. You could argue on some records, particularly Iron Age, that they went a little too far toward the hard rock sound in the 1980s and forgot to funk things up. They definitely got the mix right on this track from 1992’s Black Radio Won’t Play This Record, though.

The song starts with these primal gang “huuhhh” shouts and some heavy guitars. When Glenn “Doc” Murdock starts singing and bassist Jerry “Wyzard” Seay starts thumping, there’s just as much Rick James as hard rock in it. Then female vocalist Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy comes in, and she absolutely blows the roof off the place. She’s got a huge voice, and the rising power chords behind it make it just that much bigger. It’s easily the best part of the song.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a rap section in the middle that makes fun of Vanilla Ice and the New Kids on the Block, either. Then comes the solo for Gary “Mo” Moore, who could definitely shred with the best long-haired white boys of the time, and finally we’re back to those shouts from the beginning for the big finale.

I don’t know whether to dance or bang my head and throw horns or some combination, but I love it. It’s been way too long since I listened to this record, and I can’t believe that I let the song slip my mind.

I can’t say it any better than one of the comments I saw on the YouTube video: “This kicks all available ass.” Indeed, it does.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips

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