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The Electric Word

The Relatives

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Album Review

In 2009, the Heavy Light label released Don't Let Me Fall, a compilation of three obscure singles and five previously unreleased songs by the Relatives — a group from Dallas, Texas that formed in 1970 and fused gospel, funk, and psychedelic soul. During their initial run, the Relatives opened for the Staple Singers and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that they shared a stage with the Rance Allen Group or once opened for Parliament/Funkadelic. The anthology provoked the Relatives, led by reverends and brothers Gean and Tommie West, to resume. After starring on Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears' "You Been Lyin'," a highlight of 2011's Scandalous, the Relatives recorded The Electric Word, their first album. Produced by Spoon's Jim Eno and featuring ex-Black Joe Lewis guitarist Zach Ernst, The Electric Word is remarkably similar to the group's earlier recordings. The lone difference is the superior recording quality. Members swap leads and dip and dive behind one another like their chemistry has remained unchanged, and the overall sound hits hard with occasional use of reverb and guitar squalls (as on "Bad Trip"). The best case for their relevance is "What's Wrong with America," a fresh take on early rumination "Speak to Me." The raw original resembles an Impressions-inspired demo; this version has much more of its own character, and its questions could have been written in 2013. Whether howled or hushed, the material goes straight to the soul, awakens, and uplifts.

Customer Reviews

Wonderful!

Stumbled over this listening to the World Cafe. Just had to get it! This is unbridled real heartfelt music with meaning. So glad you guys decided to share it with the rest of us. In a time when popular musicians are being told that you have to shake your junk and dance half naked to be deemed "good", these guys come out and show them how to be "great."

Solid like a Rock!

Solid album with wonderful melodies! Can't wait to see them live at Wilco's Solid Sound Fest at Mass MoCA!

Amazing live and on the new album!

The Relatives get the whole audience going with their live shows! Excited to take that experience home with this album!

Biography

Formed: Dallas, TX

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '70s, '10s

A group that fuses gospel, funk, and psychedelic soul, the Relatives were formed in 1970 by Dallas, Texas natives Reverend Gean West and Reverend Tommie West. While they released some singles that made some impact on a local level, they were known more for their performances and opened for the likes of the Staple Singers and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Once the '70s gave way to the '80s, the group went inactive but resumed in the wake of Don't Let Me Fall, a compilation released by Heavy...
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The Electric Word, The Relatives
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