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Revival scores an "Amen!"

click to enlarge Is it hot in here? Or is it just Reverend Horton Heat?
  • Is it hot in here? Or is it just Reverend Horton Heat?

In an era when most music acts focus on creating highly produced albums, Jim "The Reverend" Heath of Reverend Horton Heat has a refreshing attitude about record-making.

"From my point of view, recording is not that big a deal," says the singer/guitarist. "It's not like something that I take very seriously at all."

Revival, the latest album from Reverend Horton Heat, is a good example of the trio's studio ethic. Working at Last Beat Studio in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas where the band started their career in the mid-1980s they bashed out Revival in a matter of days.

"The goal was to go in and do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible," Heath says. "If there were a few mistakes, or if sonically there was something a little lacking, I didn't care. Let's just do it and get it done. ... The way they make albums now, it's insane. They don't even use real drummers. They just sample guitar parts, and so it's kind of a shame."

Part of the reason Heath, bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla don't belabor their studio work is because Reverend Horton Heat is built around their live act.

In fact, the band's record sales don't nearly reflect their drawing power on the road. They tour relentlessly and consistently sell out large clubs and theaters something that many acts with radio hits struggle to do.

Heath is well aware of the imbalance between his group's ticket sales and album sales, but he has trouble explaining why the popularity of Reverend Horton Heat live never has translated to album sales.

"I'm not really sure," he says. "I wish I had a better explanation, except for one thing: that radio stations are getting more and more consolidated, to where one big corporate office formats all the radio for a specific style."

The lack of interest from radio in Reverend Horton Heat isn't surprising. The band's music doesn't fit easily within any of today's radio formats.

On a strictly stylistic level, Revival is a pretty typical Reverend Horton Heat album. It features a few supercharged rockabilly ravers, a couple more traditional rockabilly tunes, a few songs that link jazz or blues to the rockabilly foundation, and a rootsy ballad or two.

Heath, to be sure, would like to see Reverend Horton Heat enjoy a bump in record sales. But after nearly 20 years in the band, he knows their live appeal means they always can make a solid living by touring something many musicians cannot say.

"Great, great bands out there who are players, or are bands and acts that I just love and am just ga-ga over I love them so much even those bands, they might edge us out a little bit, but there's really nobody who can blow us off a stage. I guess we're just lucky in that respect."

capsule

Reverend Horton Heat with The Legendary Shack Shakers

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Thursday, Feb. 16, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $15, 18-plus only; visit ticketweb.com.

  • Revival scores an "Amen!"

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