It must have been 1975, I was watching The Old Grey Whistle Test and Whispering Bob introduced a band that I’d never heard of and played a black and white video of what looked like old Disney cartoons. The band was called Head East and the song was called Never Been Any Reason – I would never hear of them again in England. I can imagine that most readers here wouldn’t like them – they were a mid-west American seventies Rock band that were popular in Illinois and the surrounding areas. They broke no new ground, the players weren’t virtuosos, they were just five ordinary guys. There was no political agenda, no deep lyrical content, no fashion aspect, they weren’t cute, they were simply making the music they liked. Initially released independently, after signing to A&M their re-released first album, Flat As A Pancake went gold in the States selling over 500,000 copies and their debut single Never Been Any Reason reached No.68 in the US charts. One more moderate hit followed from the album, Love Me Tonight reaching No.54, the third single City Of Gold failed to chart.
I guess you could put them in the same bag as Journey or Kansas, but without Neil Schon’s classic guitar playing and without Kerry Livgren’s epic songwriting. Most of the songs on Flat As A Pancake were written by singing drummer Steve Lucas, one by their other singer John Schlitt and three by the guitarist Mike Somerville. It was standard stuff, but well played, well produced, melodic, catchy punchy mid seventies rock, a strong debut in the genre. They were probably wiped out by Punk and New Wave especially on the coasts but because it’s America, their style of music survived and they are still playing live to this day albeit with a completely different line-up that has just one original member, keyboard player Roger Boyd.
So if you’ve even heard of Nick Cave, stop now, don’t listen to their records, stay away from videos, especially You Tube. If you like something a little more innovative this band will tick all the boxes of everything you don’t want to hear, BUT they had one classic Pop Rock gem – Never Been Any Reason is a cross between All Right Now and Since You’ve Been Gone (topical as we have sadly just lost Rainbow’s one time bass player Jimmy Bain). Coincidentally they had one more hit from their fourth album, a cover of Since You’ve Been Gone reached No.46 in 1978. Never Been Any Reason was written by guitarist Mike Somerville and was sung by the band’s two lead singers, Steve Huston and John Schlitt with harmonies shared by the rest of the band, a middle-eight with those strong harmony vocals (that band’s like this do with ease) and Dan Birney’s dominant bass. Certainly not everyone’s cup of diner coffee (and whatever you do stay with Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone) but I think this song, rarely heard in Europe, is worth an airing for fans of the genre.