West Dallas' Relatives, the funk-soul-rock-n-gospel group that formed in 1970 but didn't find fame until 2009, lost two members last year: founder and frontman Gean West, the righteous reverend who shoulda-coulda-woulda become James Brown if only, and singer Tony Corbitt, who joined the band shortly before its festival-circuit, record-making resurrection. By all rights, that should have been that -- the end of a road that stretched on longer than anyone imagined.
But, as was promised more than a year ago, The Relatives -- including the band's original guitarist, Charles Ray "Gypsy" Mitchell, who disappeared for decades before surfacing not long ago -- will return with a second proper studio album: the wah-wah, fuzzed-up, freaked-outm hallelujah-and-farewell Goodbye World, which might be the saddest album title ever under the circumstances. The band's new label, Luv N' Haight Records, said today the record will be released April 15.
Gean was ill during most of its recording, and slipped into a coma two songs into the sessions at the end of 2014. Twelve days later, he woke up -- just long enough to finish most of the record, which includes a spoken-word monologue about West's brush with death. He appears on all but one song: "Forgive Me Now (Songbird Goes Home)."
Here's one he does sing on: "Can't Feel Nothin'."
"For half a century he had a huge footprint in Dallas music -- in the church, in the clubs," guitarist-producer Zach Ernst said last year when eulogizing Reverend Gean . "This is a really huge loss for the community. He and The Relatives made an extraordinary sound, and I can't point the finger at anyone else who did it the way they did."