The Relatives, Kool & Together

Heavy Light Records is turning out to be a wonderful divining rod for lost chapters of great black Texas music. First the Austin label unearthed The Relatives, the 1970s Dallas family that sang gospel music with a brick-thick funk foundation. Heavy Light issued The Relatives' previously unreleased LP Don't Let Me Fall in October 2009, lighting a slow fuse that exploded last year, when Rev. Gean West and his brethren toured the world and appeared with Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears on an Austin City Limits episode and at Houston's Free Press Summer Fest. Now comes Kool & Together, another family band – brothers Charles, Joe and Tyrone and guitarist Johnny Ray Barefield, plus four of Charles's daughters – this time out of Victoria. In 1970, Kool & Together cut a fiery, guitar-centered session recorded by none other than Huey P. Meaux (really), but didn't see the light of day until last year, when Rolling Stone named the LP one of the "Top 10 Under the Radar Reissues of 2011." Heavy Light's album notes say Kool & Together picks up where Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys left off; they're not wrong, although an even more geographically apt comparison might be mercurial Dallas-born psychedelic funk/rock genius Sly Stone. It's that good, and it's Saturday night.


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