You can take the hustler out of the pool hall, but you can't take the pool hall out of the hustler. The Reverend Horton Heat may be a man of the cloth these days, but the cloth in question is still cigarette-burned green felt that reeks of stale beer. Hustling is a confidence game, a matter of distracting your mark with one hand while you fleece him with the other, and that's as apt a description of the Rev's guitar style as you're likely to find. With his $20 suit and castor-oil smile, the Rev shows "Rockabilly Cartoon Character" and all its attendant buzzing neon glare. Then he winks and runs the table on you with that quicksilver guitar, beating you 12 ways to Sunday.Last year's Spend a Night in the Box (Time Bomb Records) is coked to the gills with whip-sting guitars, upright bass and sock-hop drums, but it also has the Louis Prima-style jump-band dance number ("The Millionaire"), the honky-tonk lust ballad "Bedroom Again" and the jazz noir-meets-Humbert Humbert leer of "Hurts Your Daddy Bad." But what's great about the Rev. Heat is that although he messes around with the fancy stuff, he can still sink the eightball when the money's on the table, as on "Whole Lotta Baby." Over a bump-and-grind rhythm section, the Rev lays down sizzling guitar and croons, "You're a girl who can move it, without a doubt/If you're gonna build a barn, build it stout." That sort of playful slap-on-the-ass chauvinism may not fly in some circles, but those are the same circles where people drink light beer from pilsner glasses. The Reverend Horton Heat is about celebrating the high life, and that means sweaty bottled beers, sledgehammer breaks and girls who give a little when you squeeze 'em. Save us a pew up front.
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