As we stagger to the end of another month, the idea for another side falls right into our lap. Again, as with Bob Seger in November, the inspiration is our pal Michael over at Fusion 45.
Last week over at F45, Michael served up “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East, saying it was “their one and only attempt to be REO Speedwagon (in terms of popularity, that is).”
Whether that’s so is debatable. It’s entirely possible, though, that Head East was influenced by REO (whose early stuff we dig and whose later stuff Michael digs). They certainly competed. Both were part of a thriving Midwest rock scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
In the early ’70s, the best stuff came out of Michigan — the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger’s early bands and Grand Funk Railroad. By the mid-’70s, though, a bunch of different sounds came out of Illinois — REO, Styx, Head East, Starcastle. They weren’t as crunchy as the Michigan bands.
Still, Head East is not REO. Sure, lead singer John Schlitt brings to mind REO’s Kevin Cronin. Sure, keyboard player Roger Boyd brings to mind REO’s Neil Doughty. And so on. But we’ll let you be the judge of that, once you listen to tonight’s side.
You know “Never Been Any Reason,” so we’ll flip over the record and serve up Side 2 of “Flat As A Pancake.”
“Jefftown Creek,” “Lovin’ Me Along,” “Ticket Back To Georgia” and “Brother Jacob,” Head East, from “Flat As A Pancake,” 1975. It runs 19:00. Three of the four cuts were written by drummer Steve Huston, with “Lovin’ Me Along” by guitarist Mike Somerville.
There’s plenty of tasty organ work by Boyd on the first two cuts, “Jefftown Creek” and “Lovin’ Me Along.” Dig the Mellotron at the end of the latter. The last two cuts are piano-driven, with “Ticket Back To Georgia” seemingly inspired by the Allman Brothers’ quieter stuff and “Brother Jacob” hinting at gospel influences.
I saw Head East play at a festival in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late ’80s, a good decade past their prime. I thought it would be lame, and it was pretty good. You might find this side to be much the same.
Then go see Head East when they come to your town. They’re still out there touring, still playing some of the tunes from this side, with Boyd leading the way.