The Reverend Horton Heat

Lucky 7

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Goosed by the news that this album's "Like a Rocket" (with slightly altered lyrics) was chosen as 2002's official Daytona 500 theme song, Reverend Horton Heat and his trusty duo of wildman bassist Jimbo and loose limbed drummer Scott Churilla rev up their collective engines again. The group's seventh album (on their fourth label) is bolstered by meaty yet stripped-down production from veteran Ed Stasium (Ramones, Living Colour, Smithereens) who returns after working on Heat's 1998 disc Space Heater and 1999's Holy Roller. Not surprisingly then, little has changed in the Rev's trademarked approach. Mixing Molotov-cocktail-quality portions of rockabilly, country, and Ramones-styled punk, Heat charges through his usual PC-free topics of bad wimmin' ("What's Reminding Me of You," "Ain't Gonna' Happen"), good cars ("Galaxy 500"), and nefarious band members ("You've Got a Friend in Jimbo") with sharp, muscular, often breathless playing in a heavyweight attack that will please established fans, but probably won't grab any new ones. Adding the fleet-fingered bluegrass of the instrumental "Show Pony" to his established bag of tricks, along with the reverb-laden spaghetti western Dick Dale-isms of another instrumental and the intricately suite-styled "Duel at the Two O'Clock Bell," shows how adaptable and talented Heat is as a guitarist. But the spoken word "Sermon on the Jimbo" puts religion back in the Rev's schtick as he provides a fire and brimstone sermon about his bandmate in a tacky bit that goes nowhere. The soliloquy probably makes for a show-stopping moment live, but is a distraction -- and not a particularly well conceived one -- on album, as it sets up the closing hillbilly romp "You've Got a Friend in Jimbo." Although it peters out in its last 10 minutes, Lucky 7 is a workmanlike and thrilling if unadventurous addition to Heat's fiery catalog, and provides him with more fuel for his explosive gigs.

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