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The Reverend Horton Heat

We Three Kings (Yep Rock)

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Reverend Horton Heat and company are past their reinvention days. (Remember 1994's Al Jourgensen product, the industrial-fried Liquor in the Front?) At this point, Heat's a standard-bearer, bringing his rockabilly roadshow to town yearly with the predictable assuredness of the summer sun -- or the winter blahs, depending on your threshold for this kind of hot-rod stomp. As such, We Three Kings is an inevitable, if not always obvious, attempt at a roundup of holiday hymns (and one original instrumental).

By now, Heat's voice is a little too road-ravaged to give much interpretive tone to swooners like "Pretty Paper" or "Silver Bells." But the band is solid in "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me." "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" gets a nutty Batman twist, and you know the old Chuck Berry chestnut, "Run Rudolph Run," will be coming, so it's a nice payoff at the end.

More classy than sassy, Kings is a little too reverential to its sources. But after Heat's years of groping for fame, squashing quaint rockabilly stereotypes, and settling into life on the road, reverence becomes the reason for the season.

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