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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Rev. Heat Preaches Old-Time Rock 'n' Roll

September 11, 1996|CHUCK CRISAFULLI

With his songs of fast cars, faster women and cool martinis, the Reverend Horton Heat certainly does not preach the kind of old-time religion the Christian Coalition would approve of. The Texas bandleader does, however, very effectively pull from the old and new testaments of rock 'n' roll. He and his two sidekicks delivered rockabilly riffs and country twang powered with punk energy in a long, fiery set at the Palace on Monday.

Heat's pumped-up tales of debauchery are a hoot, and the band banged them out with such reckless abandon that the music seemed to hail from some dark stretch of road between Gene Vincent and the Butthole Surfers. Guitars were manhandled and a stand-up bass was punched, slapped and stepped on. But showmanship never outgunned musicianship.

The Reverend's music--like rockabilly of old--counts on precise execution, and his band's superb chops pulled the most from every ballad, rave-up and juke-joint rocker.

Some awkward pauses between songs squandered some of the show's momentum. But each time the band hit its stride--whether on the swinging jazz groove of "That's Showbiz" or the double-time blast of "Generation Why"--the power of its impure gospel was made clear.

Before the Reverend's testimony, the crowd was roused by New York's all-girl Lunachicks, whose set mixed campy humor, bristling punk tunes and a very convincing rip at Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

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