Hello all! Thought I would lead off this week with a little heads up about a new album from one of the best artists in all of power-pop and maybe music as a whole itself. Not only that, but a hell of a nice guy to boot. I recently had a chance to do an interview with Mr. Heyman and it was very fun talking about music with him. Not just his own, either, but his obscure desert-island faves as well.
Check out the review of his new album below and please pick his new disc up and give it a chance. Some of the best power pop around, in my humble opinion.
Anyways, here goes:
Richard X. Heyman – Actual Sighs
A criminally overlooked melodic pop/rock auteur who usually only gains notice from the power pop underground, Heyman has had a much longer career than his cultish but impeccable reputation (creator of 5 of the greatest power pop CDs ever made, in my opinion) would suggest, a fact that comes into play in regards to this, Heyman’s latest CD release.
I’d like to say this is a new CD, and in a sense it is, but with a very interesting twist: for this CD Heyman has decided to resurrect his first 6-song EP Actual Size from 1986 and reissue it along with another fourteen songs recorded at the same time but unreleased until now. And, lest one think this is merely the twentieth anniversary celebration of that first EP, it is also in some ways a near 40 year anniversary celebration of his first musical forays.
A much sought-after drummer since his early teens in the mid-’60’s, Heyman began his career by playing for some of the hottest bands on the East Coast during that exciting decade (and beyond). Heyman also gained a wealth of valuable musical experience by backing up many musical legends as part of one of the most well-known backup bands on the East Coast. A CD comprised of stories about Heyman’s exploits with legendary musical figures would be a great buy at any price all on its’ own and maybe he will pursue that avenue sometime down the road. Heyman’s book “Boom Harangue” has some of these types of stories in it, but not enough for my taste. Time to write “Generation X. Heyman” as far as I am concerned. (Forward all royalites for the book title to my attorney, Richard!)
That he has managed to master a plethora of instruments in the intervening years and become a home-recording genius only adds to the immense musical shadow he manages to cast. By the late 70’s Heyman was plying his speedily improving guitar and songwriting technique in bands with fellow future stars like Tommy Keene. That it took almost another ten years for his first EP Actual Sighs shows Heyman’s devotion to his craft and not wanting any sub-par material to leak out.
Mixed back in the day by Ed Stasium, this EP-turned-epic-album has a cohesiveness which is more than just semi-surprising. Sure, all the songs were recorded at the same time so you expect a modicum of similar subject matter and musical ability, but all the cuts retain a brilliant freshness and a thematic parity that turns the album into more than just a cut-and-dried reissue project. It boggles my mind how undated these songs sound and how much they sound like some of the lo-fi pop that is all the rage today. All recorded in Heyman’s home studio, his living room. (And also the inspiration for another of Heyman’s great albums, titled ahem…..Living Room!)
I tried listening to the album before reading the liner notes just to test myself to see if I could pick out what was on the original release and what was left off. To my surprise, I couldn’t do it. I was sure I would be able to pick the wheat from the chaff but there is no chaff! What Heyman could have done (which would have rare and novel) would have been to let people listen to all the songs and compile six of their choosing for their own Actual Sighs EP. Though it would be criminal not to have all the songs, it would have more than illustrated the point that there is no filler on this album. Why he left any of these songs off of the orignal release is a mystery known only to Heyman, but thankfully he has corrected it and let these great tracks out into the sun after all these years.
Anyone into melodic pop on a par with Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Emitt Rhodes will love this CD. Filled with sing-along melodies and hooks that burrow into your head like worms, this CD will no doubt become the CD you pop in your car stereo over the summer when you’re driving around looking cool. In fact, if I were to pick the first CD I’ve heard this year that could be classified as a great summer CD, this would be it. Pick it up and see for yourself.