Monday, November 18, 2013

The Relatives - The Electric Word

Formed in 1970 by the Rev. Gene West and his brother, Rev. Tommie West, this gospel outfit shared the bill with other gospel greats such as the Staples Singers, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and others, but only managed to release a handful of singles locally. This, their first full-length album, maintains the sound that they created then - gospel tinged with psychedelia, funk, soul and rock.

With the help of former Black Joe Lewis guitarist Zach Ernst, the album is simultaneously new and vibrant while sounding like a great, lost late 60's/early 70's psych/soul album. Many of the tunes remind me of psychedelic-era Temptations, with the multiple harmonies (especially terrific on the acapella "I Will Trust in the Lord"), while others have a James Brown funk rhythm and Jimi Hendrix lead guitar work. The lyrics talk of addiction, inequality and, of course, the Lord.

Truly excellent blend of gospel, soul, funk and psychedelia - not something that you're likely to hear much of anywhere else, either! A fave new find!