Artist: The Relatives
Album: Goodbye World
Label: Luv N Haight
Release Date: 04/29/2016
Originally hailing from Dallas, Texas, the Relatives fuse rump shaking funk with the good word of God. Lead singer Gean West grew up in a musical family who hosted travelling stars such as Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and the Staples Singers. Mr.West started his career in traditional gospel music, but by the late 1960’s began to combine the contemporary sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone with the message of the Pentecostal church. The Relatives continued to perform throughout the 70’s, but called it quits in 1980. Luckily, a cracked ‘45 found its way into the hands of Austin record collector and Dj Noel Waggener, who helped resurrect the group’s career.
The Relatives latest release Goodbye World fuses Gospel and Psychedelia that’s good for the soul. Sadly, the title is appropriate as Mr.West recently passed, but his spirit lives on through the music. The first track “Rational Culture/Testimony” simmers with guitar licks by original axeman Charles Ray “Gypsy” Mitchell whose style brings to mind Parliament Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel. With falsetto backing vocals by brothers Tommy, Tyrone and Cedric, Gene sings, “He’s gonna rule the world/don’tchya’know/we gotta put it together/put it together.” Mr.West testifies with an epic sermon about how despite his health problems, he was called back by the Lord to keep on preachin’. “I got so sick that the doctors thought I wasn’t gonna make it/I had tubes all over my body/the church went on their knees/the heaven bust open/when the prayer went through/it stopped God in his tracks/ and he stood still and said, I hear my people calling me/somebody call my name/and God seen fit said, well Gene the church done prayed for you/I’m sending you back/and I want you to work for me/don’t let me down son/ God, control, this universe.”
“No Man Is An Island” begins with classic R&B vocal stylings and spreads an important message that Dallas and all of America could use these days. “And we ought to try to defend, yeah/treat each man as your brother/and each man as your friend.” The rest of the album grooves and oozes with positive vibrations and uplifting tunes.
It’s impossible to resist the Relatives. They heal through funk, and their conviction in the power of God through music is infectious. Theirs is an electric soul church we’d all be wise to attend. Say a little prayer for brother Gene and dig the Relatives. Hallelujah!
– Mike Cobb