The Relatives Goodbye World on Limited Edition LP + Download
Featuring the Late Reverend Gean West & Original Guitarist Charles Ray "Gypsy" Mitchell!
"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 12 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 50 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.