By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
The best summation of the Rev and his music comes from a fellow Texan, rock archivist Tim Stegall, who writes: "There's always been something profoundly, eternally satisfying about the sound of backwoods trash tanked on pills and rhythm and blues til their plaintive field hollerin' starts thumping to a manic new beat. Jim Heath knew . . . the only way rockabilly could wiggle in the modern world the way it did in Sam Phillips' world--fuck the freeze-dried, museum-showcase nature of billy revivalism and git reeeal, reeeal gone for a change!"
The Reverend himself bristles at the suggestion of studio "craftsmanship," growling, "I'll tell you buddy, albums and bands, they're different. You can make a great album, but when you see it live, you go, 'Hmmm, there's not a recording studio in the world that can duplicate that.'
"We've been living in an age where the live performance has to try to sound as good as the record. Well, they've got it backwards! In the 50s a recording was gonna be a reflection of what you sounded like live!
"I look at [recording] as kind of making a new poster for the band. Let's just get it out there and use it! We do make a special effort [when recording], but at the same time, it's kind of a tedious process that doesn't seem to be worth it. When it quits being fun, which is after about the 20th take, I'm outta there! I wanna go play pool!"
The Reverend Horton Heat wants you, dear readers, to join his nightly congregation. He suffers for your sins:
"Last year in Cincinnati, I walked away with some serious facial disfigurement. I wrecked Social Distortion's bicycle. I was real drunk and hanging around, and one of the guys was riding around with a bicycle. So I said, 'Hey, lemme ride it.' I was on that thing for about 45 seconds. I hauled ass around the block and went up this hill. When I came down, I was trying to make this turn I couldn't make, and I managed to jump the curb and crashed right into this Lincoln Continental. It tore trim off the car and I just went flying. I came wobbling up, all bloody."
He draws down fire from the heavens:
"One time [onstage], I was getting shocked really bad. There was a very bad ground. And this girl handed me a beer, and she held it up with both hands like it was some kind of an offering.
"I had one hand on my guitar and I reached out to grab the beer, and right when I touched it, a bolt of electricity went through the bottle. Everybody saw it. It went, 'Wooaaahh!' and then, Wham, it was over."
He casts miracles:
"We play a lot of fast, drinking music. As opposed to slow, drinking music. It gets everybody's blood boiling. Some nights, you'll pull off some quirky deal that blows everybody away, and from then on, you can do no wrong.
"Like one time we were playing this really huge stage in Lawrence, Kansas. Somebody brought us tequila shots. Well, way back at the drum riser, which was 20 feet away from me in the front, there was this pitcher of beer sitting on the drum riser. I did this shot of tequila, and just looked at the crowd, and threw it over my shoulder straight back at the drum riser, and it went right in that pitcher and started spinning around. People just went nuts!"
Working wonders in the material world must surely take its toll, even on a reverend. Just listen to the bleary, D.T.-ridden ambiance of "Gin and Tonic Blues" for proof. It's the most vivid evocation of a truly loaded state of mind since Peter Fonda filmed an LSD freakout. Or is it just the Reverend's atonement for playing poker with the music biz?
Jim Heath reflects for a moment. "It's kind of a funny deal, you know? You just really got to want to do it, and you gotta sacrifice damn near everything. I used to not want to be a huge band. Only play intimate places. But now my goal is . . . to make Jimbo Wallace bigger than Guns N' Roses!