The right Reverend Vince Anderson is a soulman, musician and ordained minister. He brings his ministry of “Dirty Gospel” to the people every week with the renowned “Reverend Vince Anderson and his Love Choir” residency, which takes place every Monday night at Union Pool (and just happens to be one of Okayplayer’s favorite live residencies, ever). OkayPrayer is a new semi-regular space for him to preach about the wonders of Dirty Gospel online. This week he introduces us to Dallas based gospel group The Relatives.
The first song I ever heard from The Relatives was a cut called “True Love is Hard to Find.” The recording starts with a clean funk guitar, bass and drums, not entirely in synch with one another. The instrumental trio hangs far away from the root chord until they finally resolve to the major key, and a quartet of male vocalists, sing the words, “You might as well bear this in mind, true love is hard to find.” The groove continues in a South-Of-Motown kind of way, while the singers mourn the reality of finding someone to love. The quartet eventually sings “All I want is your true love,” hinting at a perfect love from the Divine, but the majority of the song is a soul song of unrequited love in a harsh world. This song is the rarest of gospel songs. While many gospel songs espouse a “Jesus is my boyfriend” kind of sentiment, masking the pain of real human love in exchange for some sanitized “Divine Love,” The Relatives don’t shy way from the trials and missteps of looking for an earthly love that is true.
The Relatives have their feet firmly planted in the mire of this world. They reach for Heaven while finding truth here and now. In the liner notes of “Don’t Let Me Fall”, a 2009 compilation of their music from 1970 to 1980, Thomas Fawcett tells a story of the Relatives’ Reverend Gean West delivering a sermon on the beloved 23rd psalm. In his sermon he compares Michael Jackson to the psalmist, King David. This sermon perfectly exemplifies where the Relatives make their home; in the liminal wilderness between the secular and the sacred.
Like the people Israel, the Relatives have also wandered for 40 years in said wilderness. On Feb. 19th they finally release their debut LP The Electric Word, on Yep Roc, produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno. The record captures the essence of their live performances, which combine the tradition of the gospel quartet with a the strut of psychedelic soul. Catch a taste of their ecstatic performance below and find a full listing of their NYC appearances (kicking off tomorrow, Jan. 10th at Lincoln Center Atrium) after the jump.
The Relatives live in NYC this week.
Jan 10th – Lincoln Center Atrium – 9:30 PM
Jan 13th – The Bell House – WFMU Benefit – 930PM w/Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Jan 14th – Joe’s Pub – 7PM w/Debo Band