Music For My Mother/Music For My Mother (inst)

Released 1969 on Westbound
The Seth Man, June 2001ce
Not only was this the first-ever Funkadelic release, but it was also the first-ever release on Westbound Records. “Music For My Mother” would appear on their eponymous debut album in a slightly longer version, but here it’s far more in your face and punchier-than-thou. “Music For My Mother” is performed by one of two different collections of musicians who would contribute to the first Funkadelic album, and despite the credits on its back cover, the lineup appearing on this single (as well as several other tracks that made it onto the album) did NOT include Tiki Fulwood (drums), Mickey Atkins (organ) or Tawl Ross (guitar, vocals.) Luckily, guitarist Eddie Hazel and Billy “Bass” Nelson did, but the credit for the Jaki Liebezeit-esque drum fills must go to Brad Innes, while the drawling lead vocals came courtesy of Herbert “Sparky” Sparkman. Perhaps some, all or none of the four-man battery of Funkadelic vocalists comprised of Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas, Calvin Simon and Ray Davis were involved in the backing vocal struts by the track’s groove-infected end as there is a “Gris-Gris”-type chorus chant swaying in the background over Hazel’s wah-wah and stitching needlepoint/counterpoint/lead and rhythm guitar lines which explore a stark R&B number utterly dripping with humidity and humanity. It digs WAAAY back: beyond juju mojo, beyond the Delta blues and even the blues springing forth from the eternal human delta of womanhood, the darkened centre of rhythmic heat where all the unspoken chants, vocal harmonica wailings and especially the proclamation “Say it LOUD -- I’m funk an’ I’m proud!” is not so much one of racial pride as it is of a solitary human kicking against the oblivion of eternity before birth and after life with the all too human cry signaling nothing less than the ever-affirming war cry against death: “I’m alive!!!” Put your fist in the air NOW. The only vocals included on the B-side’s instrumental version is just the previously mentioned proclamation, and one can hear a bit more clearly how they evolved the track from its beginning cymbal sizzle and bass to burning up effortlessly with full kicking-out drums while Hazel’s guitar lines board the nearest expressway to your skull. It’s a build that occurs slowly, slowly, slowly, and before you know it: it’s fully into a completely felt and unspoken groove that could go on forever.

And these Afronauts known as Funkadelic charted a course on “Music For My Mother” that was unlike anything else they’d ever record again.

“Music For My Mother” speaks of ancestral exploration, of sweltering late summer nights hanging out and being so shit-poor you can’t even afford to pay attention but with a feeling of nothing else but kick your blues off into the furthest reaches of that hazy horizon. And when a Detroit program director of the time commented on it as being, “music to incite another riot” he wasn’t kidding. But then again, neither were Funkadelic.