Nick Heyward

The Apple Bed

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With his transformation from pop pinup to accomplished adult songsmith complete by the mid-'90s, former Haircut 100 frontman Nick Heyward was free to relax and crank up the amps. And while the crunching chords that open The Apple Bed may have thrown some fans of Heyward's gentler days, this is in many ways his best solo outing -- one that, guitar muscle aside, doesn't really stray far from the tuneful pop he's always had a gift for creating. Credit the newfound aggression with Heyward's signing to Creation; it certainly sounds as though he spent some time listening to the beefed-up Beatleisms of that label's mainstays, Oasis. But his own take on the Fab Four ends up being more faithful without having to resort to swiping riffs outright. The leadoff cut, "Stars In Her Eyes," bursts into a soaring chorus vaguely reminiscent of "She's Leaving Home," while the irresistible "Heavy Head" decorates a classic British descending chord progression with "Penny Lane"-style piccolo trumpet. Meanwhile, a trio of rockers -- "The Goodbye Man," "Dear Miss Finland," and the bonus cut, "3 Colours" -- rock more convincingly than you'd ever have imagined from a chap who once wore his sweater tied around his neck. It end up being the sort of album everyone wished McCartney would make in the '90s, but didn't quite. Luckily, Heyward took care of it.

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