Pushing 30 years as a "country-fed punkabilly" trio, the Reverend Horton Heat stand as the big-name ambassador to all kinds of rock 'n' roll fusion. Surf rock, swing, rockabilly, psychobilly: It's all touched on over the course of guitarist-singer Jim "The Rev" Heath's lengthy catalog, usually energized by punk-rock D beats, bass-drum triplets and plenty of ride cymbal.
Before releasing their next album on Victory Records, the Rev and company play the Majestic Theatre's Live on King Street series on Friday, Aug. 23. This record deal is a strange one considering Victory's history of tough-guy hardcore. Then again, the new material promises to be edgier, and the band's live show is always raucous, so maybe it's a match made in bizarro heaven.
Parsing the band's catalog is a hefty task, so here are three classics to check out for a quick pre-show intro.
"Big Little Baby"
"Big Little Baby" was Heath's first seven-inch single, preceding all studio albums to pay tribute to a â€śsweet little baby that's 6 foot tall, a full-grown woman who's got it all." And measuring 6'3" in heels, "she's as cute as she can be, but she's as tall as a tree." The tune was later included on the band's second LP.
The standout single of the band's debut full-length, Smoke 'em If You Got 'em, "Psychobilly Freakout" is a predominantly instrumental jam, a madcap staple that showcases Heath's wicked chops. In the 20 years since its release, it's been featured in a handful of movies and TV shows. If you're feeling brave, you can try to keep up with it in Guitar Hero II, or spend a year trying to play it on a real guitar.
The first single from the Rev's second LP, The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat, has some of the hardest-hitting beats in his catalog, with double-bass triplets propelling a riotous rock song about a car loan gone wrong. It's one of the band's best songs live, too, so don't leave the show early.