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Tom Heyman

Show Business, Baby – 2017 (Bohemian Neglect Recording Works)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Tom Heyman

Tom Heyman has a storied past as well as a lengthy list of accomplishments. Beginning with his stint as part of the Philadelphia-based cult faves Go To Blazes, he went on to work with the ever beguiling San Francisco outfit The Court and Spark and eventually found himself playing a key role in Chuck Prophet's backing band. A steady sideman, his name has appeared in countless credits over the years.

Sadly, Heyman's own efforts tend to get overlooked. With three previous albums on his resume, he's managed to create a solid solo career that merits more notice than it has received so far. That makes "Show Business, Baby" his next best shot at acquiring the notoriety that's evaded him until now. An unapologetically rocking affair, it's comprised of catchy tunes that sustain themselves more on hooks than happenstance in a deliberate attempt to garner immediate attention. Happily, the strategy pays off; songs such as "Etch a Sketch," "Out West" and "Whiskey Wolf" are instantly infectious, requiring no more than a willingness to tap a foot and maybe sing along. After all, most of these songs are built on a sustained stomp, resulting in a sound that's catchy, crafty and contagious.

Indeed, Heyman shows himself to be a student of '50s finesse, and on tracks like "All Ears" and "Slow It Down," he could conceivably be an heir apparent to Buddy Holly or Gene Vincent. That's no coincidence; two of the songs in the set are credited to archival sources - Dion DiMucci on "Daddy Rollin'" and Crickets guitarist Sonny Curtis for the set's final send-off, the snappy and concise "Baby My Heart." Whether or not Heyman ever achieves the same hallowed status as that pair of pioneers remains to be seen, but for now anyway, he's actually kind of convincing.