Labeling your product hillbilly Zen-punk blues is a good attention grabber. But in the latest offering from Reverend Freakchild, the contents aren’t exactly as advertised. It’s blues all right, but that’s about it. There ain’t nothin’ recognizable as hillbilly here — no yodelin’, no hollerin’, no galllus snappin’. No self respecting punk would mosh to this stuff either, so that’s out. And as for Zen, well, it is a bit quiet in places, and if you strain your ears you might hear some Middle Eastern strains swimming upstream in the mix, to spawn.
Reverend Freakchild isn’t a divinity school graduate, or even an attendee. His reverential leanings are of the psychedelically induced variety with a PHD in Reverential Blues Barology, which he earned playing churchy blues in joints before he was old enough to drink.
The Rev’s message is all over the place, bouncing from hard rock to blues to country. There’s even some fish tank blues. “I Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down” has an underwater quality, like the sound Bob Log 111 gets in his live presentations, singing through an old fashioned telephone headset, glued to the outside of a motorcyle helmet. Its kinky and weird, and you don’t soon forget it.
“Keep On Truckin’” is more mainstream, country blues underscored with some nice harp work by Hugh Pool. The vocals give it a folk flavor, but Chris Parker’s hard rock percussion quickly jars it out of that territory.
Freakchild seems possessed by a bellicose demon on “Tears of Fire,” bellowing hellaciously while roasting a Dobro over a roaring fire. Parker’s drums pop and snap like red-hot embers underneath the steel carcass.
“Soul Transforming Realization” is one of the Rev’s more obvious “Zen” numbers. It’s twangy Mediterranean blues that sounds like it’s being performed on an electric oud with a slide made from Hound Dog Taylor’s kitchen table leg.
It is hard to put a name to what’s going on here, and you gotta give the Rev props for putting some zing into the labeling. It may not save your soul or lead you to the path of righteousness, but you sure will have some fun on the journey to wherever the hell it is Rev Freakchild is headed.