The Reverend Horton Heat


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After releasing a Christmas album (We Three Kings), a couple of live sets (25 to Life and Live at the Fillmore), a disappointing country-leaning album (Laughin' and Cryin' with the Reverend Horton Heat), and a jazzy side project (Hi-Fi Stereo by RevOrganDrum), the Reverend Horton Heat has finally gotten around to making the sort of record his fans have been wanting to hear for close to a decade: a full-on fast-and-loud rockabilly set, complete with Jim Heath's trademark fifth-gear guitar work and pounding rhythms from bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla. REV doesn't break much new ground for this band, but in the truest sense that's the point: Heath and his bandmates have been taking plenty of detours in recent years, some satisfying and some disappointing, but REV is where they step back into their comfort zone and do what they do best. Heath's guitar work has never been a problem, and his blazing solos here are as impressive as ever, while the melodies, propped up by his thick rhythm lines, are simple, sturdy, and hold everything together no matter how fast and wild the players attack the music (and Wallace and Churilla clearly worked up a sweat on these sessions). Most of the songs cover the usual subjects -- cars, women, good times, bad times, life on the road, zombies -- with Heath's usual degree of canny wit, though he seems a little out of his element ranting about foreign bankers who control the world in "Never Gonna Stop It" and the mental health system in "Schizoid." Overall, though, REV is the Reverend Horton Heat's strongest rock & roll album since 2000's Spend a Night in the Box, simply because it shows the Reverend and company to their best advantage: they do this stuff better than anyone, and they don't have to apologize for playing to their strengths when they can still wail like this.

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