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Pop Music Reviews : Rockabilly Power

October 01, 1994|RICHARD CROMELIN

Rockabilly erupts regularly on the rock scene, as inevitable as acne on adolescent faces. This root form of rock 'n' roll endures because the urge to get wild that it embodies is essential, and it has never found a better cultural fit than it has with today's scene, where its iconography (tattoos, the juvenile delinquent look) and spirit (stage-diving is a pure rockabilly impulse) prosper.

So it's no surprise to find the Reverend Horton Heat, a rockabilly trio from Dallas, topping the college-rock airplay charts and packing halls such as the Palace, where it played on Thursday to a crowd ranging from '50s fashion plates to '90s rank and file.

Without the dimension of dementia that the Cramps bring to the form, or the cartoonish charisma of the Stray Cats, the threesome relies on sheer, blistering power. Drummer Taz, taking his cues more from Keith Moon than any '50s forebears, is virtually the lead musician, and it was his relentless drive that kept Thursday's set on the move.

Singer-guitarist the Rev came on like the flipped-out square, with bow tie and pork-pie hat and charged guitar playing. For someone who professes a love of such unruly forces as Jerry Lee Lewis, he was a pretty mild performer. But their hearts are in the right place--the Rev sounded like an earnest musicologist when he told the fans that they need to be familiar with Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps.

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