The Reverend Horton Heat

We Three Kings

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Who would have figured the man who brought us the world's most potent "Psychobilly Freakout" back in 1992 would be helping to share in the joy of the holiday season a mere 13 years later? We Three Kings is a set of 12 classic Christmas tunes (with one new original added for good measure) whipped into a nervous froth of twangy guitar and rolling drums by Jim Heath and his partners in crime, and without question this is the most user-friendly Reverend Horton Heat album to date. The Right Reverend makes with the big, frantic rock on several tunes, most notably a Caped Crusader-infused cover of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and a fifth-gear charge through Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run," but the real surprise is that the trio plays it relatively straight on a number of cuts, including a placid stroll through "Silver Bells" and a weepy cover of "Pretty Paper." Even the sole original tune, "Santa on the Roof," is awfully sedate by Heath's standards, and this may well be the first Reverend Horton Heat album without a single mention of gin or loose women. But Heath's guitar skills are still sharp, and he gives his jazz and country licks a bigger workout this time out, while Jimbo Wallace and Scott Churilla are allowed to show a bit more subtlety as a rhythm section than usual. In short, We Three Kings is that rarity, a Reverend Horton Heat album you can play in front of your parents and younger siblings without offending or frightening anyone, and isn't family togetherness what the season is all about? Besides, this still rocks a whole lot harder than Kenny G or Mannheim Steamroller could ever manage in their wildest dreams.

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