For a brief few minutes in the 1970s, it looked like Head East were going to be the next big thing, Their debut album, Flat as a Pancake, may only have reached the low registers of the pop charts, but they had the melodies, the vocals, and the charisma to take them all the way. But for whatever reason, it never happened for them, and by the early ’80s, they were all but forgotten. While Lady Luck never smiled on them, the band are still around, still touring (albeit with a vastly different lineup to the one they started out with) and still keeping their small but devoted army of fans happy. Here’s our pick of the ten best Head East songs of all time.
10. Fly By Night Lady
Flat as a Pancake, Head East’s debut album, may only have reached number 126 on the Billboard 200, but the enormous potential of the band was evident right from the start. Unfortunately, that potential never got fully realized, but it still gave us little gems like the lovely Fly By Night Lady.
9. Gettin’ Lucky
Head East’s third album, Gettin’ Lucky, was released in 1977. Commercially, it was a disaster, stalling at number 136 on the Billboard 200. But chart success isn’t everything, and while its commercial failure may have made the executives at A&M turn a whiter shade of pale, it’s still widely regarded as one of the band’s best albums. The title track is particularly excellent, highlighting the band’s instinctive understanding of melody and their knack for creating memorable vocal arrangements.
8. I Surrender
Russ Ballard’s 1976 album Winning provided Head East with several hits, including Since You Been Gone from their 1978 eponymous album and this next confection from their sixth album, U.S. 1. Rainbow would later go on to popularize the song, but Head East had the distinction of covering I Surrender first. It failed to chart, but by 1980, the possibility of any Head East song making a dent in the charts was remote anyway. Either way, it’s a hugely enjoyable listen.
7. Don’t Let Me Sleep in the Morning
Like most of Head East’s albums, Gettin’ Lucky bombed, stalling at number 136 on the Billboard 200. But it’s far from a bad album, with the band’s amazing vocal arrangements and bright melodies proving as infectious as ever. The tracklist isn’t quite as strong as their debut, but there are still plenty of gems to be found. One of the brightest is the irrepressibly catch Don’t Let Me Sleep in the Morning, a song that might boast some of the vaguest lyrics in the history of rock, but which, as All Music says, will still stick in your head despite the fact that you will have no idea what it means.
6. Every Bit of My Heart
Another highlight from the album Gettin’ Lucky next, this time the hugely affecting Every Bit of My Heart. The band’s exuberant performance is a delight, but dig around the lyrics and the sharp bitterness of the lines might take you aback – proof once again that Head Easy were always far from the lightweights they were often made out to be.
5. Since You Been Gone
Since You Been Gone was first recorded by Russ Ballard on his 1976 album Winning. It’s been covered by numerous acts since, including Rainbow, Alcatraz, and Brian May of Queen. In 1978, Head East put their own spin on it for their 1978 eponymous album. After a series of commercial failures, the single briefly re-ignited interest in the band, with the result that it became the highest-charting single of their career, peaking at number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. City of Gold
After enjoying the tiniest taste of success in the mid-’70s, Head East’s fortunes nosedived, with any chart activity coming to an abrupt end at the turn of the ’80s. Considering the amount of raw potential they displayed on their debut, their inability to turn their initial promise into lasting success is something of a mystery. Rifle through Flat as a Pancake as hard as you like, and you’ll still struggle to find a weak note. The triumphant City of Gold is particularly sensational.
3. Jefferson Creek
It’d be a huge exaggeration to say that Flat as a Pancake, Head East’s debut album, set the charts alight, but considering the commercial fortunes of the majority of their albums, it still ranks as one of their most successful releases, hitting number 126 on the US Billboard 200. It’s also unquestionably one of their most enduringly popular albums, serving as a spectacular showcase of their intriguing fusion of prog rock and hard rock. Never Been Any Reason, the album’s sensational opener, rightly took a lot of the praise, but the rest of the tracklist is equally strong, with Jefferson Creek ranking as one of its most memorable moments.
2. Love Me Tonight
Head East initially released their debut record, Flat as a Pancake, independently, but it turned into a bigger success than anyone had anticipated. All 5000 pressed copies were sold, numerous rock radio stations picked it up, and soon enough, Head East had a record contract to their name. The album was reissued in 1975, reaching gold status within three years and remaining their most popular album for the rest of their career. Its biggest hit came by way of Love Me Tonight, which reached number 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 – their second-highest charting position after 1978’s Since You Been Gone.
1. Never Been Any Reason
In at number one on our list of the 10 best Head East songs of all time is Never Been Any Reason. According to Song Facts, the song came about during the band’s early years playing colleges and clubs in the midwest. As not all of the venues they played were keen on them playing original material, they’d often introduce it as a song by Three Dog Night. Of all their songs, it remains their most popular and best known, regularly popping up on classic rock radio to this day. It’s also featured in various films and TV shows, including Sahara, Dazed and Confused, That ’70s Show, and Friday Night Lights.