White-Washed White Trash

Reverend Horton Heat - Space Heater
(Interscope Records)
2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Beer guzzlin', amphetamine driven, white trash, psychotic rockabilly is definitely not a music for everyone, but it is what Texas trio Reverend Horton Heat have built their reputation on.
Ever since the release of their debut album Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em in 1991 on Sub Pop Records the 'Rev' have converted as many as they've repulsed with their liquored-up psychobilly.
On their latest release Space Heater, however, the band has cleaned up their image significantly by replacing the seedy sleaze for a more souped-up jock rock sound, which ain't all that great.
Besides the three strong instrumental numbers, "Pride Of San Jacinto" with it's ride-em-cowboy rhythm and lassoing guitar hook, the jacked-up hick licks on "The Prophet Stomp" and the jazz-meets-rockabilly-at-a-rodeo on the title track, the album really never goes much further than sounding like a hard rock pep rally.
On the punkish "Jimbo Song" the band cheerleads through the spelling of Jimbo in a weak attempt at capturing the essence of original punkers The Ramones. "Goin' Manic", with it's dumb chorus along with the sappy ballad "Mi Amour" are painful at best. The song "For Never More" is a headbanging, hard rock migraine, while "Couch Surfin" recreates John Belushi's obnoxious character "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave" as guitarist / vocalist Jim Heath blathers, "If you let me stay here I'll mow your lawn, since I don't have a job I can party 'till dawn. You won't even know I'm here, hey do you got a beer?"
Although Heath's vocals sounds like an uninspired Jerry Lee Lewis on the fifties flavored "I'm Drunk" he does manage to rip the joint up with his guitar and upright bass player Jim Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla.
As it turns out, Reverend Horton Heat has white washed their unique trashy sound down to a more palatable homogenized music for the masses. And if I didn't mention it before, it ain't all that great.

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