Yeehaw! Rockabilly is alive and well and now available on Victory Records. I was thrilled to find the latest release from The Reverend Horton Heat in my inbox for this week's review. In full disclosure I am, and have been, a big fan of the Reverend and his take on the rockabilly genre. The man has been at it since 1985 and his newest release "Rev" is proof positive that he's still going strong.
Jim Heath, aka Reverend Horton Heat, once again gives us a glimpse into a lifestyle that includes fast cars, fast girls, drinking, heartbreak and rock and roll. "Rev" provides the soundtrack with 13 tracks of down-home cookin' the way your momma used to make it, featuring the team of Heath and long time bassist Jimbo Wallace partnering once again with frenetic drummer Scott Churilla.
The Reverend Horton Heat is the AC/DC of rockabilly. He has found a style that works for him and he hammers it home album after album. You may have heard classics such as "Psychobilly Freakout", "Wiggle Stick" or "Big Red Rocket of Love" featured in TV commercials and video games. If you happen to be one of those rare individuals who is not familiar with the Reverend's work, his style is a mix between country, rockabilly, surf, punk and a little swing for good measure.
Rarely without his over the top, Western-style sport coat, he often plays a fast paced, country style on a Gretsch guitar (he has his own line of Gretsch guitars) with his trusty sidekick Jimbo slapping away on an upright bass. Imagine Gene Vincent, Johnny Horton (from whom he took his name),Dick Dale and a Southern minister all wrapped up in one preaching hellfire and brimstone to the rock and roll masses. That's the Reverend.
"Rev" kicks off with a traditional Horton instrumental, "Victory Lap", before slamming into "Smell of Gasoline", a classic style Heat song about a 17 year old girl who, well, likes the smell of gasoline. This is followed by the rock and roll anthem "Never Gonna Stop It" which is a fun little ditty that lists all the people and groups who can't stop rock and roll (including the United Nations).
Cuts like "Schizoid", "My Hat", and the first single, "Let Me Teach You How To Eat", all continue the fine tradition long ago established by the Reverend and his crew. After hearing the track "Hardscrabble Woman" I had to look it up to make sure it wasn't a cover of a Johnny Cash song. It isn't but it could be.
The Reverend certainly has a unique style, albeit one that hearkens back to a time when rock and roll was new, fresh and earth shaking. I've seen the Reverend Horton Heat live and the crowd is diverse to say the least. You've got your hard core metal-heads standing shoulder to shoulder with slick-haired, retro-rockers in gas station style shirts with their name on a patch over the breast pocket and a pack of lucky strikes rolled up in their sleeve. You've got moshers, watchers and swing dancers all enjoying the show with equal fervor. The Reverend's lyrics are oftentimes humorous, sometimes reflective and wistful, as in the song "Spooky Boots" (the tremolo adds so much), but always the music keeps it rocking.
In short, in my biased opinion, you should add "Rev" to your collection. If you're already a fan of Horton then you will absolutely love this record. The Reverend hasn't slipped a bit. If you aren't yet a fan, give it a listen and you will be. "Rev" is pure, high-octane fun set to music. It'll make you want to get a tattoo, go out drag racing and find a girl in hot pants to go dancing with. It's another Psychobilly Freakout! Long live the Reverend.