They all said X's music is "too hard, too wild, too insane, too dirty," said Ray Manzarek of the Doors, spouting excuses made by the reams of record companies that passed on what would become one of the most essential, celebrated and admired West Coast bands of the late 20th century. Manzarek produced the first three albums for the pioneering punk-rock quartet (vocalist Exene Cervenka, bassist/vocalist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake) and plays a supporting role in this long out-of-print documentary, which impeccably details the hostility and exploitation of the eighties L.A. underground. The 85-minute film includes interviews and band rehearsals, and captures X at its zenith--potent, teeth-rattling live versions of "Year One," "Come Back to Me," "Real Child of Hell," and "Johnny Hit & Run Paulene"--as well as behind-the-scenes gems like an MCA executive boasting the merits of eighties' posers Point Blank and Doe and Cervenka crooning Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" in their living room. Part "The Kid's Are Alright," part "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," "The Unheard Music" is a well-crafted visual diary and a revolutionary soundtrack from a band whose story continues to rewrite itself 20 years after the original release. --Scott Holter
The Reverend Horton Heat
Undeniably, The Reverend Horton Heat, aka Jim Heath, is the biggest, baddest, grittiest, greasiest, greatest rocker that ever piled his hair up and pounded the drinks down. Without question, for all of his outlandish antics, blistering stage performances and legendary musical prowess, the one thing The Rev always gets asked about is the story behind his unusual and rather clerical moniker. "Well, there used to be this guy who ran this place in Deep Ellum, Texas who used to call me Horton- my last name is Heath," says The Rev. "Anyway, this guy hired me and right before the show he goes, 'Your stage name should be Reverend Horton Heat! Your music is like gospel' and I thought it was pretty ridiculous. So I'm up there playing and after the first few songs, people are saying, 'Yeah, Reverend!' What's really funny is that this guy gave up the bar business, and actually became a preacher! Now he comes to our shows and says, 'Jim, you really should drop this whole Reverend thing.'"
It's been an almost 20-year journey for Heath, whose country-flavored punkabilly and onstage antics have brought him and his band a strikingly diverse fan base and a devoted cult following, not to mention the respect of fellow musicians worldwide. Revival, the band's first release for Yep Roc Records, is a return to Heath's roots - musical and geographical.
"I got this lick called the 'hurricane,' and I call back on the hurricane on this album for the sake of keeping things really rockin," he says. (The "hurricane" is a trademark lick where The Rev plays lead and rhythm guitar simultaneously to give the trio its full live sound.) He's also got a top-secret lick he'll introduce on this disc. It's so top secret that he won't even divulge the name, but listen up for it! Lyrically, the album's themes run "from death to silliness," says The Rev. "I'd been going through so much stuff, losing my mom so quickly, new baby, touring, getting back and having to work," he says of making the album. Revival finds the Rev dealing with these issues and more: The track "Someone in Heaven" is written for his mother, while "Indigo Friends" deals with a friend's heroin addiction. But the album's themes aren't only dark and/or serious: "Calling in Twisted" is about calling in sick to work and "using the fake cough," "Rumble Strip" is a drivin song and "If it Ain't got Rhythm", "that's a really fun one to play," says the Rev "it is classic RHH. And "Party Mad" is pretty self-explanatory.
Not In The Face
East Texas boys with country-fried roots show that they know how to rock, get dirty, and spin a good yarn with their cleverly titled first release Bikini. Jonathan Terrell has been delighting the Austin live music scene going on four years now in different arrangements as both a solo acoustic country-blues artist, but it was not until he partnered up with drummer Wes Cargal (White Rhino, Ryan and the Relics) and formed the versatile punk-rock-blues-a-billy two-piece Not in the Face that they began electrifying Austin audiences with infectious high energy live performances.
Jonathan's country roots and influences still lurk just below the surface in some of his Not in the Face lyrics; he tells cautionary and love-lorn tales set to rock rhythm and blues like imagined scenes from films yet to be made. Yet it's the versatility of musical stylings that really comes through on the album: some tracks will have you moving and shaking, other tracks will have you slow dancing with your steady, and on other tracks you'll find yourself having hot and dirty anonymous sex in a public bathroom.