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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Head East

Flat As A Pancake

Review by Gary Hill

It would be easy to lump Head East into the category of “generic 1970’s hard rock.” Sure that would fit, but it would really be selling them short. The group had a lot of prog rock in the midst of its arrangements and some killer keyboard sounds. Add in awesome vocal harmonies and a lot of energy and you’ve got a good idea of the power of this band. Flat As A Pancake was definitely their biggest selling album, and probably the best disc they ever recorded. I’m hoping to see the band live (if you’ve never done so, don’t miss them – they rock) in a month or so, so it seemed a good time to have a look at this classic disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Never Been Any Reason
Starting with a synth laden segment that might make you think you’ve landed in a prog rock song, this is one of the band’s biggest hits, and rightfully so. It just plain rocks. You might not know it by that name, though – as the main portion of the chorus is, “Save my life I’m going down for the last time.” This song still stands up very well and is a great tune – no matter the decade.
One Against the Other
More of a funky, straight up rock and roller, there’s a boogie element to this one. It has a more dated sound than the opener, but still works pretty well. We get a cool piano solo in the course of the number, too.
Love Me Tonight
Here we get more of a pop rock nature than the two earlier cuts, but it’s not really a ballad. Certainly one can hear traces of early REO in this, but then again, the two bands did come out of the same area of Illinois at about the same time.
City of Gold
While this track might not be as well known as “Never Been Any Reason” it might well be my all time favorite Head East song. I’d say that it could actually qualify as prog rock. It’s a powerful and dynamic cut that has bits of Yes in it along side Uriah Heep and more typical Head East elements. The mellower keyboard laden midsection might even make you think of Hawkwind a bit. However you break down the recipe this is one tasty morsel. 
Fly by Night Lady
Although this is essentially a tasty rocker that’s much in keeping with the rest of the disc, there’s a killer Keith Emerson like synthesizer solo mid-track. It’s another highlight. 
Jefftown Creek
Here’s another of my favorite songs by Head East. This starts with a keyboard solo and then launches into another great rocker. The vocals really make this one. There’s also an extended instrumental section. At about five and a half minutes in length, this is the most extensive track on show here, too.
Lovin' Me Along
A bouncing sort of number, this is a good track and represents some variety, but it’s not the powerhouse of the last few songs. There is a tasty keyboard solo, though. 
Ticket Back to Georgia
Here we get the ballad of the disc. It’s pretty and evocative without being over the top. The keyboards are tasty.
Brother Jacob
This bouncy piece starts with an extended acapella segment. There’s a definite gospel texture to this and this track is perhaps the most dated song on show here. Still, it’s a fun number.
 
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