Head East - Flat As A Pancake - 1974 - Pyramid
A good album of it's genre, being commercial, middle-of-the-road "hard"rock. If you're expecting hard rock of the Who/Deep Purple variety, then this album may not be to your taste. It's more in the early REO Speedwagon style, and this is not to say that that REO Speedwagon were a bad band. That said, the album has some excellent vocals, and musicianship, especially the mellotron work. The album is still a cut above the dozens of mid seventies bands, who churned out innumerable chart targeted albums, most of which sounded the same. This album would not be included in that class of mediocrity. However if the band had "kicked" more, and injected more rockin' and less soft balladic West Coast rock influences, it could have been a much better album. Again, this is in no way demeaning West Coast rock. Head East certainly knew how to rock, and could have put their talents to better use on this album. The album is worth hearing. It did not achieve gold status for nothing. Listen to the band's "Get Yourself Up" album.
TRACKS / COMPOSERS
Jefftown Creek (Huston)
Lovin' Me Along (Somerville)
Ticket Back To Georgia (Huston)
Brother Jacob (Huston)
Never Been Any Reason (Somerville)
One Against The Other (Schlitt)
Love Me Tonight (Somerville)
City Of Gold (Huston)
Fly By Night Lady (Huston)
N.B: The track sequence is the original 1974 Pyramid vinyl release. Later LP's and CD's differ.
Roger Boyd - Piano, Organ, Moog, Mellotron, Vocals
Steve Huston - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Mike Somerville - Guitar, Vocals
John Schlitt - Lead Vocals
Dan Birney - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Showing off Head East's intriguing and quite effective blend of hard melodic rock with progressive rock tendencies and awesome vocal arrangements, this disc is a classic. Opening with the band's trademark "Never Been Any Reason," the CD includes several other exceptionally strong numbers and none that qualify as "weak." The other standout numbers on the disc are "Jefftown Creek" and "City of Gold." This disc is truly one of the best the band ever did, and it is a shame that they never made it further than they did, since this CD shows that they really had star potential. © Gary Hill, allmusic.com
Though St. Louis is often mentioned as Head East's hometown, the original members grew up in south central Illinois. Originally known as the TimeAtions, the band adopted the name Head East at the suggestion of Baxter Forrest Twilight, who was a technician / stage-hand for the band. August 6, 1969 is recognized as the date the band officially became Head East and they played their first gig in Carbondale, Illinois about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis. The band, originally comprised of brothers Roger and Larry Boyd, Steve Huston, John Schlitt, and Dan Piper, would see many members come and go over the next four years. Lead singer John Schlitt and drummer Steve Huston soon left the band to concentrate on their studies and several members performed in their place until John and Steve returned as full time members in 1973. Interim vocalists and drummers included Annie Williams, Joel Motel, Betsy Kreuger, Dale Innes, and Jean Mullen on vocals, and Tony Juodis, Dan Odum, and Bill Keister on drums. The line-up that would take them through their first six albums began to take shape in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois in 1973 where Roger Boyd and John Schlitt had been students at the University of Illinois (Steve Huston had attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois less than an hour south of Champaign/Urbana). Guitarist Dan Piper had left in 1972, and after both Greg Williams and Brad Flota did short stints on guitar, the band held auditions for a new guitarist. Mike Somerville was selected over numerous others who auditioned to be the new Head East lead guitarist. Shortly thereafter, Roger Boyd who had left a few months earlier, rejoined the band replacing Dickie Harney who had filled in on keyboards. By the summer of 1974 Dan Birney had replaced Larry Boyd on bass guitar, joining Roger Boyd, Steve Huston, John Schlitt, and Mike Somerville as members of Head East. Birney had previously played in a band with Mike Somerville's brother Scott. They entered Golden Voice studios in Pekin, Illinois that summer and recorded the tracks to their first album, Flat As A Pancake, which they released on their own label, Pyramid Records. A&M Records soon took note of the bands popularity, and the airplay and record sales of the Pyramid release and signed Head East to the A&M label. Flat As A Pancake was re-released on A&M in 1975 and was certified Gold (representing 500,000 in record sales) in 1978. Single releases of Never Been Any Reason and Love Me Tonight both charted on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. Never Been Any Reason has since become a staple of classic rock radio and is one of the most frequently played classic rock anthems in many parts of the country. In 1976, Head East released Get Yourself Up, followed by Getting' Lucky in 1977, the self-titled Head East in 1978, and Head East Live! and A Different Kind of Crazy in 1979. During this time the band was a huge concert draw, regularly playing to large crowds at major venues as the headlining act. But this popularity did not show on the charts, with Since You Been Gone from the self-titled Head East album being the only single during this time frame to crack Billboard's Hot 100. On 20 April, 1980, the line-up of Roger Boyd, Dan Birney, Steve Huston, John Schlitt, and Mike Somerville played their last concert at Kearney State University in Kearney, Nebraska. The band had ceased to be a cohesive unit and the decision to discontinue playing together had actually been made prior to the completion of the tour that ended in Kearney. John Schlitt left the band due to substance abuse problems and attempted to front his own band Johnny for several months, but soon dropped out of the music business. John overcame his problems with drugs and alcohol and in 1985 embarked on a career in contemporary christian music as lead singer of the band Petra. Dan Birney and Mike Somerville also left, choosing not to continue on with Head East. Mike would return to Head East in 1994 after participating in numerous other musical projects including the Somerville-Scorfina Band in the early 80's with former Pavlov's Dog guitarist Stephen Scorfina. Dan Birney worked in radio in Washington state and Iowa before relocating to Arizona in the mid-80's where he worked in Real Estate and operated a pool cleaning service prior to his passing in August of 2003. Remaining original members Roger Boyd and Steve Huston quickly enlisted Mark Boatman (bass), Tony Gross (guitar), and former member Dan Odum (vocals), and recorded the U.S. 1 album, which was released later that same year. This would be the last studio album that Head East would record on A&M Records. After the release of U.S. 1, A&M dropped Head East along with other album oriented rock (AOR) bands in order to put more emphasis on promoting New Wave and Punk bands popular at the time. Head East released Onward And Upward in 1982 on Allegiance Records. Robbie Robinson joined the band on bass for this release, having replaced Mark Boatman. Neither U.S. 1 or Onward And Upward achieved substantial chart success, and the band would once again experience a change in personnel. Over the next few years, Tony Gross, Steve Huston, Dan Odum, and Robbie Robinson would all depart and several new members would join the ranks of Head East. Ricky Lynn Gregg, Brian Kelly, Joel Parks, J. Jaye Steele, and Matt Stewart (formerly of Starcastle) all joined Head East during this timeframe but would leave the band before the release of the next album. Kurt Hansen and Donnie Dobbins would join during this same period and Tony Gross would return in 1987 after a three years absence. Choice Of Weapons, released in 1988 on Dark Heart Records, was Head East's last studio album. This album took a departure from the traditional Head East sound and featured a more modern synthesized sound reminiscent of other popular groups of the late 80's. The band line-up at this time included Roger Boyd, Tony Gross, Kurt Hansen, and Donnie Dobbins. Several other musicians are credited on this release, including former members Dan Birney, Ricky Lynn Gregg, Brian Kelly, and Joel Parks. During the next 3 to 4 years, the Head East line-up continued to evolve into the early 90's. Donnie Dobbins and Tony Gross left the band and remaining members Roger Boyd and Kurt Hansen recruited several new members including Vance Best, Steve Riker, Randy Rickman (formerly of Exile), and Jim Murphy. From about 1992 to 1994, at a time when classic rock was beginning to regain popularity, Head East began assembling a group of musicians who would not only remain together for several years, but would return to the classic Head East sound. Rich Creadore joined taking over duties on bass and Dan Kelly replaced Riker on drums. Though Kelly left for a short while during which Mike Mesey played drums, Kelly again returned as did guitarist Mike Somerville. Kurt Hansen left in 1995 and was replaced by lead vocalist Tom Bryant. The lineup of Roger Boyd, Tom Bryant, Rich Creadore, Dan Kelly, and Mike Somerville would remain intact from 1995 to 2000 when Kelly left to work for the band Sister Hazel, and was replaced by former Head East drummer Mike Mesey. In the fall of 2001, vocalist and guitarist Richie Callison joined the band replacing Tom Bryant on lead vocals and eventually assumed sole lead guitar responsibilities upon the departure of Mike Somerville. The lineup of Boyd, Callison, Creadore, and Mesey would stay intact for a few years before founding member Roger Boyd assembled a new band. Head East is currently a 5-piece band consisting of Roger Boyd (keyboards & vocals), Greg Manahan (bass, lead guitar & vocals), Glen Bridger (lead guitar & vocals), Eddy Jones (drums & vocals), and Darrin Walker (lead vocals & bass). The band's superb musicianship and versatility along with their strong vocal abilities, resulted in the reinstatement of some classic Head East songs to the set list along with some new covers of classic rock favorites, making for an exciting new live show. Head East has been regaining it's popularity over the last several years, no doubt due to the resurgence of classic rock music and Head East's presence on the internet. This rise in popularity has resulted in the issuance of three CD's, Concert Classics Vol. 7 on Renaissance Records in 1999, Live On Stage on Universal/A&M in 2000, and 20th Century Masters - The Best of Head East - The Millennium Collection which was released by Universal/A&M on 25 September, 2001. A fourth release tentatively titled Flying By Night (import re-issue of Concert Classics Vol VII under a new name) was pulled from production by NMC Music of London England prior to any copies being issued. Head East has brought more than three decades of rock to their fans, a tradition that is destined to continue for many years. Roger Boyd, leader and keyboardist of Head East, has stated that Head East will continue to rock as long as he can lift his synthesizer over his head and play. And he looks forward to bringing Head East music to the fans for many years to come. Head East currently performs about 30 to 40 shows each year, mainly in the Midwest and plains states, with shows occasionally in the west and other parts of the country. They put on a high-energy show that is true to their original sound. Their set list includes selections from the following list of songs: Take A Hand, When I Get Ready, Me And My Whiskey, City Of Gold/Fly By Night Lady, Love Me Tonight, Lovin' Me Along, Brother Jacob, It's For You, Raise A Little Hell, Jefftown Creek, Gettin' Lucky, Every Little Bit Of My Heart, Get Up & Enjoy Yourself, Elijah, Since You Been Gone, Wrong Time, Never Been Any Reason, and the traditional blues favorite, Stormy Monday. © 2001 - 2008 Head East, www.head-east.com/bandhistory.html
MORE ABOUT HEAD EAST
Head East went through several lineups and musical approaches before consolidating in St. Louis in the early '70s as a hard rock quintet consisting of John Schlitt (vocals), Mike Somerville (guitar), Roger Boyd (keyboards), Dan Birney (bass), and Steve Huston (drums), all alumni of the University of Illinois. They recorded their debut album, Flat As a Pancake, independently and released it on their own Pyramid Records label in early 1975. When the track "Never Been Any Reason" began to attract radio attention, A&M Records signed the band and re-released Flat As a Pancake in June 1975. The singles "Never Been Any Reason" and "Love Me Tonight" became minor pop chart entries, and the album spent six months on the charts, eventually going gold. Get Yourself Up (April 1976) and Gettin' Lucky (March 1977) were less successful, but Head East (February 1978), spurred by the minor singles chart entry "Since You Been Gone," reached the upper half of the Top 100. The double-LP Head East Live! (January 1979) also peaked in the Top 100, as did A Different Kind of Crazy (October 1979), and the band performed on the soundtrack to the comic anthology film J-Men Forever! (1979), but at the end of the year Schlitt, Birney, and Somerville left the group. Boyd and Huston recruited Mark Boatman, Tony Gross, and Dan Odum to record U.S. 1 (October 1980), Head East's last album to reach the charts and last newly recorded release on A&M; it was a minor chart entry. After its commercial heyday, Boyd led the band in continued touring and recording for small labels. © William Ruhlmann, allmusic.com
Head East is a hard rock band originally from South Central Illinois, then Champaign, Illinois. The band was formed by vocalist John Schlitt, guitarist Mike Somerville, keyboardist Roger Boyd, bassist Dan Birney, and drummer Steve Huston. They met and formed the band while studying at the University of Illinois, Champaign. The band achieved success during the 1970s, but fell into obscurity in the following decades. Head East was formed in 1969. They released their first album, Flat as a Pancake, in 1974 on their own record label (Pyramid Records) selling all 5,000 records and 500 eight-tracks produced. With those sales, and the song "Never Been Any Reason" on radio, A&M was impressed enough to sign the band and re-release the album in 1975. The album reached gold status by 1978 and would remain their most popular album, spawning another hit in the song "Love Me Tonight", which peaked at #54The band followed with the albums Get Yourself Up and Gettin' Lucky, released in 1976 and 1977 respectively. Neither album achieved the success of their debut album. However, their fourth album simply titled Head East (1978) produced another hit with the band's cover of former Argent singer Russ Ballard's "Since You Been Gone," which peaked at #46. In 1979, the band released the double-LP Head East Live! and A Different Kind of Crazy. The former also peaked on the US Top 100 charts. The band also performed on the soundtrack to the comic anthology film J-Men Forever. In March of 1980, bassist Dan Birney and guitarist Mike Somerville left the band, while singer John Schlitt was fired due to a drug dependency. He would later recover, become a born-again Christian and become the singer and the face of one of Contemporary Christian Music's most successful all-time bands, Petra. Schlitt was with Petra from 1985, until the band was retired in 2005. Remaining members, Boyd and Huston, hired Mark Boatman, Tony Gross, and Dan Odum to record their following album titled U.S. 1, released in October 1980. The album was their last to reach the charts and last recorded release on A&M. The band continued with little success, releasing albums on small labels. Some of them were Onward and Upward (1982) on Allegiance Records and Choice of Weapons (1988) on Dark Heart Records, among others. Tim Day, drummer from Daddy's Girl joined the band and toured from 99-01. They would still continue to play around, with guitarist Somerville returning from 1994 to 2003. In 1999, a live album titled Live on Stage was released. The album featured songs from two shows at Denver's Rainbow Music Hall. The first five tracks are from a 1980 show featuring the original personnel, while the last 10 tracks are from a 1981 show featuring the latter lineup.