The Reverend Vince Anderson
I Need Jesus
The comedian Lenny Bruce once admonished his audience not to trust a reverend who owned more than one suit. Listening to this album, I find it hard to believe that The Reverend Vince Anderson owns more than one threadbare, moth-ravaged suit. With a voice and style more reminiscent of Tom Waits than the current crop of Christian singers, The Reverend Vince Anderson sings about the slippery slope of faith and disbelief.
“There but for the grace of God go I” could easily sum up this album. On the one hand it’s a proclamation of faith, and on the other hand, a joyous celebration of the wanton lifestyle whereby grace is increased. I have feeling that The Reverend Anderson would be more than willing to tie a few on, but he’d also be the first one in the pew the next morning. The album opens with the rollicking number, “Johnny Shot the Mexican,” who gets his just deserts. This track is rapidly followed by the traditional song and title track, “I Need Jesus.” A harrowing track sung as if the singer is staring into the abyss of his soul, the prophet staring into the whirlwind. With a guitar riff that oscillates like a drunk staggering down the alleys of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the heavenly scales of justice, tottering, deciding who is going to hell, this track rivals Johnny Cash’s interpretation of “I See a Darkness” for its sheer brutality.
What I expected to be a joke album or an ironic interpretation the blues and gospel turned out to be a pretty damn sincere invocation. An album that remembers that the roots of rock n’ roll consist in both indulgence and contrition, violence and redemption. With a Bible in one hand, and a six pack in the other, sit down with The Reverend Anderson and wash all your sins away.