Richard Podolor was bought in to handle production duties on Head East’s third LP, a good move as it was from this point that the band made subtle but improved changes.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Head East
ALBUM: Gettin’ Lucky
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: John Schlitt – vocals * Mike Somerville – all guitars, slide guitar, backing vocals, bass on ‘Gettin’ Lucky’ * Roger Boyd – organs, pianos, moog, mellotron, ARP string synthesizer, trumpet, melodica * Dan Birney – bass * Steve Huston – drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Gettin’ Lucky * 02 Back In My Own Hands * 03 Show Me I’m Alive * 04 Take It On Home * 05 Dancer Road * 06 Don’t Let Me Sleep In The Morning * 07 Sands Of Time * 08 Call To Arms And Legs * 09 Time Has A Way * 10 Every Little Bit Of My Heart
WEBLINKS: Site Link
My first experience with Illinois locals Head East was their debut album ‘Flat As A Pancake’, which at the time I thought was aptly named, because it was one of a handful of dud albums in my LP collection. I’ve never forgotten that album, and despite the excellent ‘Choice Of Weapons’ which was admittedly a vastly different lineup from their 70’s heyday, I’ve approached the remainder of their 70’s discography with caution.
Should I be so cautious? What, with John Schlitt on lead vocals, the future Petra singer is in the A-League of rock vocalists, Head East should be featured at Glory Daze more than they are. So, I take the plunge. Midwest bands are well represented through the 70’s era, but not many were signed to big labels though – Morningstar, Shooting Star, Mama’s Pride the exceptions, were all from the same region.
After the aforementioned 1975 debut (which incidentally, was actually released in 1974 on their own label Pyramid, before A&M came knocking – and hence an early ’75 LP release), the band then released 1976’s ‘Get Yourself Up’. They were slowly but gradually making inroads on the national scene, with their albums creeping up the Billboard charts from year to year.
Richard Podolor was bought in to handle production duties, taking over from Roger Boyd who had done the first two albums. I think that was a good move as it was from this album onwards that you can hear the band making subtle but improved changes.
The band get off to a great start with the title track. The quirky pop-rock sorta reminded me of Dutch band Diesel who would strike paydirt a few years later with their excellent ‘Watts In A Tank’ LP. ‘Back In My Own Hands’ initially swings through an acoustic phase with Roger Boyd’s keys close by, it’s another fun-sounding romp.
Moving off into different territory is ‘Show Me I’m Alive’, which has a few symphonic moments.. ‘Take It On Home’ is very typical mid-west and typical of the mid 70’s era, whereas ‘Dancer Road’ starts out in ballad mode, but opens out into a mid-paced tune with some nice twists and turns.
‘Don’t Let Me Sleep In The Morning’ has some nice pomp touches but the song suffers from a basic arrangement and over-extended lyrics. I quite liked the basic boogie of ‘Call To Arms And Legs’, but then again I thought ‘Time Has A Way’ was particularly awful.. must have been the trumpet! Thankfully, things are saved by the final track ‘Every Little Bit Of My Heart’, which is best representative of the band and their overall sound. I liked the tapping piano work from Boyd and Schlitt sounds as if he’s cruising the streets!
Head East released several more A&M sponsored recordings, and we may yet get to some of those for review purposes. The big shakeup with the band came at the end of 1980, where Schlitt, Somerville and Birney all departed. A&M had dropped the band around then, preferring instead to go with flavor-of-the-month new wave bands rather than AOR.. Head East subsequently released 1982’s ‘Onward And Upward’ on Allegiance Records.
In 2005, Hip-O-Select Records did officially re-release ‘Gettin’ Lucky’ as a 2 for 1 with 1978’s self-titled LP ‘Head East’. You should be able to pick this up through the usual haunts (eBay, GEMM etc).Despite all the comings and goings with the band, Roger Boyd is the last surviving original member. Their latest CD at the time of writing is a live album from 2008, which is an independent release. Nice to see them still going, though obviously not as they were. Check out their website above and take a trip back down memory lane.