erasing clouds

Reverend Horton Heat, Revival

reviewed by j.d. lafrance

Many old school fans of Reverend Horton Heat feel that he lost his signature psychobilly sound after his third album, Liquor in the Front, in 1994. His albums still rock but the frenetic, sped-up, adrenaline-fueled sound was gone. Oh sure, there are notable exceptions, for example the giddy and wild song "Sue Jack Daniels" off of 2000's Spend A Night in the Box. So, what happened along the way? The loss of drummer Patrick "Taz" Bentley and the absence of big-time producers like The Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes and Ministry's Al Jourgensen may have been contributing factors.

The Rev's new album, Revival, has been touted as a return to his signature psychobilly sound from his debut album, Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em. However, the Rev's last album, Lucky 7, was also regarded as a return to the original sound with rockers like the one-two punch of "Reverend Horton Heat's Big Blue Car" and "Galaxy 500." This album was certainly a step in the right direction but does this new one finally live up to the promise?

Revival starts promisingly with an instrumental track, "The Happy Camper," (much in the same fashion as on Smoke 'Em) before launching into the title track, which isn't quite as fast as it should be. For example, Liquor kicked things off with the instrumental "Big Sky" and then launched into the blistering song, "Baddest of the Bad." It was an effective one-two punch that really hooked the listener into the album.

Things pick up with an ode to dealing with a hangover on "Callin' in Twisted," a sequel of sorts to "Sue Jack Daniels." It has the same humourous tone and style of lyrics. The Rev grooves on girls from New York City with "New York City Girls," which harkens back to the sound of older songs like "Big Dwarf Rodeo." Happily the psychobilly sound old school fans know and love comes crashing in on "Indigo Friends," a dark tale of friends lost to heroin.

As an added bonus to fans, the first pressing of this album comes with a kickin' DVD that features live footage of the Rev in his element and a really cool extra with the Rev walking the streets of Dallas and revisiting old haunts from when he first started out. He's interviewed by filmmaker C.M. Talkington, who made the cult movie Love and a .45 (1994) in which the Rev had a cameo and also contributed to the soundtrack. Rev fans will love this trip down memory lane as he indulges in all kinds of great anecdotes about his past and how he got the moniker Reverend Horton Heat!

Revival is an excellent effort by the Rev and his band. Fans of Lucky 7 will certainly feel at home listening to this record and older devotees will dig the songs that harken back to the original sound.


Issue 24, June 2004

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