Make room for the Rev
VAIL -You’ve never heard a reverend deliver such a powerful sermon as this.The last time I saw Reverend Horton Heat play at 8150 in Vail Village, Jimbo Wallace’s stand-up bass was making the floor bounce like a trampoline. And, I thought all of us in the jam-packed crowd, who dutifully bounced along with every number, would fall right through. The Rev, also known as Jim Heath, along with bandmates Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla, has recently had, in his nearly 20-year lifespan as an on-stage rocker, a revival.Followers – and there are many – like the Reverend Horton Heat because the band is the epitome of rockabilly inferno. “Revival,” the band’s eighth full-length studio album, sticks to the Rev’s distinctive sound of fast, constantly riffing vintage guitar, the “bow-bow, bow-bow” thump of the thick base strings, symbol-heavy rock-n-roll drumming and unmistakable lyrics covering everything from drinking to … drinking, say all that this crowd wants to hear about.
Also, cars, women, and oddly upbeat laments about drug-abusing friends and loss occasionally spring into the line-up.Ed Stasium, who helped produce 2002’s “Lucky 7” and 1998’s “Space Heater,” and who has also worked with the likes of the Ramones and the Talking Heads, is back along with road manager Dave Allen to help out with “Revival.” The album is an auditory spitting image of what to expect live from the Rev. Fast, furious guitar and drums, whomping slap-bass and enough electricity to give you high blood pressure. The only thing missing from the album is the sight of Jimbo twirling the bass and sliding it dramatically onto its side as Heath steps onto it and they both continue to rock out without missing a single beat and without so much as blinking.The revival was not exactly necessary. The Rev is an outfit that stays about as true to its roots as bark itself, and “Revival” contains 15 tunes that cover the range of trademark topics with a few sentimental additions.Heath wrote “Someone in Heaven” as a tribute to his mother, who passed away earlier this year. It’s the slowest number on the album and the genuineness of the tune’s sentiment paired with its country twang would surely find the likes of Johnny Cash applauding from his grave. The preceding song, “Indigo Friends” kicks in with the trio ripping out rhythms on their respective instruments as fast as humanly possible. Heath wrote the song about a friend’s heroine addiction.
In the progressive trend to establish as many genres and subgenres as can be imagined in the world of rock music, some critics have enthused that “Revival,” fits neatly into the “psychobilly” category. I, living under a rock – or a rockabilly – don’t know what this is. But, I don’t find “Revival” to be any more or less psychotic than any of the Rev’s preceding albums.For those unversed in “rockabilly,” it’s a genre of music featuring fast, crisp guitar riffs, usually delivered from a vintage, hollow body guitar, and a pack of rockers sporting greased-up hair, vintage shoes, leather jackets, who drive, collect and enthusiastically rock out tributes to their ’50s Fords and Chevys. Oh yeah. They usually have a lot of tattoos, but since the Rev is usually wearing some concealing, vintage blazer or some long-sleeved cowboy button-up, I’m not sure how many, if any, tats he’s got.I can’t say for certain if listening to “Revival” or seeing the Rev play live has provided any genuine moments of clarity. But, I know for sure the live set will blow you out of your pulpit.
What: Rockabilly legend Reverend Horton HeatWhere: 8150 in Vail VillageWhen: 10 p.m. MondayHow much: $18 in advance or $20 at the door
Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado