For the most part this column focuses on the classic soul music of the ’60s and ’70s. While this week’s band draws inspiration from the artists responsible for that music, the Revelations are very much a contemporary band, and one with a brand new album out. A couple of readers are going to have a chance to win a vinyl copy of The Cost of Living, but more on that later.
The Revelations got together in Brooklyn a few years back. Guitar player Wes Mingus and drummer Gintas Janusonis had been doing sessions together for quite awhile at that point, playing for artists like the Wu-Tang Clan, Otis Clay, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. The original lead singer was the vocal powerhouse Tre Williams, and the songs were being written by singer Rell Gaddis, who also performed with the band.
The Deep Soul EP on Decision Records was the first release from the band in 2008. That was followed by their first full-length album, The Bleeding Edge, the following year. In 2011, Concrete Blues was released. It was Williams swan song with the band as he left to pursue a solo career.
The Revelations were not going to allow the departure of their singer to call an end to the band. After all, they had another singer, who also did fine work as a songwriter. Gaddis stepped into the role easily, and although his vocal style is very different than that of Williams, it’s no less effective.
When it was time to record a new album, the band decamped to Memphis to record at the legendary Royal Studios. Royal of course is primarily known as the home of producer Willie Mitchell, who made so many great records with Al Green, Bobby Blue Bland, Solomon Burke, and others. These days the studio is run by Mitchell’s son, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, who produced The Cost of Living along with Revelations manager Bob Perry, and the band themselves.
Being in Memphis also allowed the Revelations to work with some amazing musicians on the new album. They include veteran Hi Records and Stax Records session players like guitarist Bobby Manuel, keyboard player Lester Snell, and organist Charles Hodges. Also along for the ride are the the Royal Horns. Imagine the blend of intimidation and inspiration that the young musicians of the Revelations must have felt working in that environment. Fortunately the resulting album turned out to be everything you would hope for from such a collaboration.
If you have ever seen the Revelations live, as I have on a number of occasions, you know that in addition to their original material they insert some very well chosen covers into their set. In fact one of those covers, their version of an Isley Brothers song from the ’60s called “Why When Love Is Gone,” was chosen as the first single from The Cost of Living. As you will see below, the Revelations do a great job with it.
Sometimes the cover versions seem to come out of left field, whether it is their slow burn version of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” (which appeared on the Bleeding Edge album with Gaddis singing lead), or the completely unexpected but decidedly fiery take on Neil Young’s “Down By the River,” which has not yet appeared on a Revelations album. Today Popdose is proud to debut the studio-shot video of the Revelations take on “Down By the River,” which you can watch below.
Now about that album. I have two vinyl copies of The Cost of Living to offer up to lucky Popdose readers. To win one all you have to do is send an email to email@example.com (ken-at-popdose-dot-com) with the word ‘Revelations’ in the subject line, and the answer to this question in the body of the email:
The Cost of Living includes a great cover version of the song “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination.” Who took the song into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974?
I’m looking for an exact answer, and spelling counts. The contest will close on Monday, May 19 at 5:00 p.m. eastern daylight time. At that time I will choose two winners from all of the correct entries. You must have a valid U.S. mailing address to win. Please DO NOT put your answer in the comments section, although comments are welcome.