BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Here’s the basic premise: Richard X. Heyman is a pop pundit who has never fully gotten his due. Forget the fact that he’s a veritable one man band; it’s his ability to churn out unfailingly infectious songs that makes him so indispensable. Even a cursory hearing affirms that assessment.
X is no different, and in fact, it’s an ideal example of Heyman’s undeniable abilities. Then too, the title bears special significance. First, it’s his middle initial. However, it also marks the fact that this is his tenth album, a milestone that’s somewhat bittersweet. Despite the excellence of his earlier albums, they failed to elevate his profile as high as it ought to be. Why are we still forced to ask why this guy isn’t a major star?
That said, it’s better to shrug off that unfortunate situation and focus instead on the present possibilities. X comes on with a rush of sheer exhilaration and adrenalin, as immediately made apparent in the sweep of its opening volley, “When Denny Dropped Out of the Scene,” “Please Be Mindful” and “Be the One,” the latter of which sounds like something the Who might have procured circa Quadrophenia. Then again, Heyman’s unabashed affection for all things associated with the British Invasion has always been evident, and indeed, on the wailing start-stop volley instigated on “Compass,” he sounds for all the world like any one of several vintage rock heroes. Likewise, the tangled intro to “Firing Lines” brings to mind the Yardbirds in their hit-intensive prime. The Who get more love later on, in “Hangman Smiles” and the autobiographical “Somebody Has Finally Found Me,” where Heyman’s maniacal drumming summons up the spirit of Moony himself. And if there’s any doubt that he’s equally adept on every instrument in his arsenal, the searing guitar solo on “Will to Go On” more than proves his proficiency.
With 15 tracks of similarly sumptuous exuberance, Heyman delivers both quantity and quality with nary a loser in the bunch. Riveting, resilient and packed with all the musical muscle one man could ever hope to muster, X marks another milestone.
DOWNLOAD: “Will to Go On,” “When Denny Dropped Out of the Scene,” “Firing Lines”