15) Liquor in the Front - The Reverend Horton Heat

I really don't remember how this album came into my life. I know I got it on CD from the library probably 30 times freshman and sophomore year of high school. I don't listen to much else like it, but I'll be damned if it doesn't scratch an itch quite well.

This is not a religious album, as the title shows. What it is, though, is a psycho-billy dervish from beginning to end, spinning tales of ill-fated desert drag races ("Five-Oh Ford), unheeded warnings of danger ("Baddest of the Bad", "Cruisin' For a Bruisin'"), a friggin' TANGO ("In Your Wildest Dreams"), a surf-rock song about being a terrible surfer ("I Can't Surf"), and even closes with a Scott Joplin cover ("The Entertainer")! There's only one arguable stinker in the bunch, a Thorogood-esque stomper ("Rockin' Dog"). It's basically the soundtrack to an unmade 50's greaser drag-racing movie.

The Rev (Jim Heath) is a pretty straightforward cat. Give him some brews, his car, and a guitar, and he's a happy (well, within reason) kind of guy, and the songs on this album follow that trend. Punky, hard-rocking and witty, the album doesn't sound like it's produced by Ministry's Al Jourgensen, with the exception of "Yeah, Right", which blends electronic drums with Heath's cyclonic guitar and heavily processed vocals. It's essentially a slower Ministry song with different vocals. It also features one of the worst lyrics I've ever heard ("Yeah, right/You're gonna move to California/and live with your good friends/and then you're gonna go skiiing/with your good friends from school/THE STATE SCHOOL!"). I don't know what the hell that's all about, but they do their best to make it sound interesting.

The real standouts of the album, though, are the instrumental "Big Sky", which wouldn't have felt out of place in a Tarantino film,

and the aformentioned "Five-Oh Ford" (which was supposed to be called "Fucked Up Ford", but try printing that on an album called "Liquor in the Front" and having a lead singer calling himself "Reverend". It's a bad-ass two-and-a-half minute ride that works almost as a counterpoint to Ministry's "Jesus Built My Hot Rod". An ill-fated love affair between man and automobile.

Bonus fun story- in 02, I got to see these guys play the old Grog Shop, and, at the end of the very boozy evening, ended up on the tour bus with a few others to drink some Jager. Shots were poured for five of us, only to have the Rev say "Shots? Let's show these pussies how we drink in Texas." Three pint glasses of the abomination were poured and after a toast, we were back on the streets of Cleveland Heights.