X is Richard X. Heyman's 10th solo CD is indeed that: completely solo, no one on it but him, and he occupies a niche in the music world that's becoming ever larger: that of the semi-known craftsman languishing in an ocean that's grown as problematic as it has beneficial, the vast terrain occupied by those not allied with the majors in any shape or form. The guy, however, was indeed once an incipient golden child associated with Sire, Warner Bros, A&M , etc. The ever-over-grandiose Allmusic.com has called Richie X "perhaps America's greatest unsung hero of power pop" and this is complete nonsense, unless one wants to fill up the adjective 'greatest' with Greg Kihn, Dwight Twilley, and about 200 other acts as well. Then, of course, there's the additional problem of Heyman's work being far from power pop (have no critics heard of Piper, the Babys, Billy Squire, Pezband, Eric Carmen???). Man, if you ever consider you're not far enough in the hole, leave it to mainstream critics to help dig it deeper.
Actually, a lot of X sounds quite akin to Marty Balin, a touch of Paul Kantner, early Billy Joel, and older straight pop music. Emmitt Rhodes, ex-Merry-Go-Round, is cited as a comparative regarding the one-man band phenomenon (Rundgren, etc.), and the analogy's apt. Rhodes lived a few blocks over from me in Hawthorne, Calif. (I was on 129th St., he was on 132nd) in the 70s, and I knew of him but the cat was pretty reclusive, wrapped up in his music. When ABC/Dunhill signed him, he disappeared amid fanfare of being "the next McCartney", which he wasn't and never would be, along with all the usual showbiz bullshit, shenanigans, and schmaltz. After three LPs, the guy joined the thousands upon thousands of musicians screwed by the industry, and, well, he was good but not all THAT good, so there's that too.
Heyman's much the same, an occupant of what I like to call The Middle Stratum, the realm whence listenable work resides but is in no danger of ever making The Big Time for any number of reasons. Such composers (Tom Snow, Andrew Gold, Jon Tiven, etc.) are usually what more acclaimed artists look to for material to steal…er, I mean 'borrow'…when they come up short on their own stuff. Somebody has Finally Found Me is a good example, just waiting for someone to amble up, tweak here and there, and turn it into gold. X is quite listenable, even a bit inspiring in places, as it treads ground too often scamped in the money, sex, 'n drugs arena of capitalo-commerce calling itself music bizniz. You'll hear a lot of Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Stories, Left Banke, and that lot here, all of which is of interest to Baby Boomers and Millenials alike, but the key, y'all, is that the work lacks the arrangements and definition it needs to buff up to the next level. Billy Mumy's the same way. Many are.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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