Psychobilly messiah

Rev. Horton Heat
Psychobilly messiah

There's an old saying that all political leaders are either hedgehogs or foxes: Hedgehogs know one big thing, while foxes know many little things.

If you apply that notion to musicians, Jim Heath - aka the Rev. Horton Heat - is most assuredly a hedgehog. For two decades, the Rev. has single-mindedly taken his psychobilly freakouts to the hinterlands, preaching the good word of raunchy inebriation.

A Corpus Christi native who has long been one of Dallas' favorite musical sons, Heath went national in a big way in the early '90s, recording two albums for Sub Pop Records at a time when Sub Pop graduates Nirvana were remolding popular music. The fact that the band's greased-back, adrenalized rockabilly was such an aberration amongst the label's indie-rock offerings only made them seem more hip: ill-mannered gatecrashers at the grunge party, who couldn't care less what was fashionable.

Rev. Horton Heat
Thursday, July 29
White Rabbit
2410 N. St. Mary's
The trio subsequently released three albums for Interscope before ultimately settling for the more modest confines of Yep Roc Records. The band's eighth, and latest, album, Revival, is basically the same slab of Carl Perkins-meets-Dick Dale that the Rev. has been serving up since Reagan was in the White House, but that doesn't mean it's unappetizing. Heath has always been an erratic - occasionally indifferent - songwriter, but in a live setting, this group can make even his flimsiest raveups sound like ecstatic mayhem.

No one could ever suggest that Heath and his bandmates are on the same level as the Ramones, who not only mastered their narrow form but came to define it. But the two bands do have something in common. The Ramones were hedgehogs too. •

Gilbert Garcia

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