'I got a little more work for you to do.''
That's what the late Reverend Gean West
sings - or rather testifies - on the opening
track of Goodbye World, the new and deeply
emotional album from the triumphantly
unlikely gospel funk band The Relatives.
The group started working on the record in the summer of 2014,
but Gean was able to lay down his signature gravelly vocals on
only two songs before he became ill and fell into a coma. He
remained unconscious for twelve days, and it was during that
time he heard God's voice telling him to get back to work. ''Don't
let me down, son,'' the voice commanded.
Gean took that admonition to heart. He and the band returned to
the studio in January 2015, where he incorporated a riveting
spoken-word account of his near-death epiphany into the band's
reworking of Tim Maia's ''Rational Culture.'' After laying down
vocals and hearing a rough mix of the song from fellow original
Relatives member Earnest Tarkington, Gean - or God, or
both - must have thought his work was finally done, because he
died the next day.
Goodbye World is their second full-length effort after releasing
the Electric Word in 2013. Named for a song that Gean first cut
over fifty years ago with the Southernaires and performed live
with the Relatives in the 70s and at their first reunion show. As
if guided by the hand of destiny, the album not only has Gean
being ''called back to life'' and work from his comatose state, but
also marks the return of Charles Ray ''Gypsy'' Mitchell, the
group's original guitarist. Gypsy had left the group in '72 or '73,
and didn't rejoin them until a hometown street fair gig in late
2013. His Eddie Hazel-meets-Ernie Isley guitar heroics and
bass-to-falsetto vocal range are a key contributor to the album's
sound (that's Gypsy singing both lead and back-up on ''No Man Is
An Island''), and he arranged the vocals and rhythm section on
half of the record's tracks. (excerpt from liner notes)
Be on the lookout for an upcoming tour in support of the album
including a showcase feature at SXSW 2016.
1. Rational Culture / Testimony
2. You Gotta Do Right
3. No Man Is An Island
4. This World Is Moving Too Fast
5. He Never Sleeps
6. Can't Feel Nothin'
7. What You Say
8. Forgive Me Now (Songbird Goes Home)
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