"Never Been Any Reason" 45 RPM single
Head East was formed in 1968 in Champaign, Illinois by five students at the University of Illinois, Champaign: John Schlitt (vocals), Dan Piper (guitar), Roger Boyd (keyboards), Larry Boyd (bass guitar), and Steve Huston (drums). They were originally known as the TimeAtions, but changed their name to Head East at the suggestion of Baxter Forrest Twilight, a technician/stagehand for the band, playing their first gig as Head East in Carbondale, Illinois on August 6, 1969. Schlitt and Huston left the band to concentrate on their studies, but returned in 1973. Dan Piper left the band in 1972, and after Greg Williams and Brad Flota did brief stints on lead guitar, the band auditioned replacements and eventually chose Mike Somerville as their new guitarist. Dan Birney replaced Larry Boyd on bass guitar, and Larry Boyd’s brother, Roger Boyd returned after a brief absence from the band, and by 1974, the “classic” Head East lineup was complete. That summer, they entered Golden Voice studios in Pekin, Illinois and recorded the tracks to their first album, “Flat as a Pancake”. The album was released on the band’s own label, Pyramid Records. A&M Records took note of the band’s popularity, and signed Head East to the label. “Flat as a Pancake” was re-released on A&M in 1975 and eventually went gold. “Never Been Any Reason” b/w “One Against the Other” was released as the first single from “Flat as a Pancake” and charted, peaking at #68. This is today’s featured single.
“Never Been Any Reason” opens with an interesting synthesizer intro (highlighting the band’s progressive rock tendencies) which soon gives way to a fairly simple guitar riff which anchors the song (C/D). Then the lyrics begin: “Did you see any action, did you make any friends/Would you like some affection, before I leave again/I been walking behind you, since you been able to see/There’s never been any reason for you to think about me”. The song’s protagonist sings about unrequited love with conviction, underscoring his desperation with the chorus of “[s]ave my life, I’m going down for the last time”. After the first chorus, there is an instrumental break in which the synthesizer takes the lead; this lasts for about 40 seconds. Then we get the third verse, where the singer’s frustration becomes so acute that he matches the contempt which the unnamed woman in the song with some contempt of his own: “You never give me no answers, you never tell me the truth/There’s never been any reason for me to think about you”. Then we get a second chorus, sung first almost a cappella before the guitars thunder forth once again as the music forms a crescendo of sound at the end of the song. “Never Been Any Reason” quickly became one of Head East’s signature tunes, and became a mainstay of FM radio for many years.
The B-side of the single, “One Against the Other”, is another track from “Flat as a Pancake”. The song opens with a drum beat, which is soon joined by a funky-sounding guitar, and lyrics about the virtues of living in harmony: “People, stop your pushin’ and try to learn/That nothin’ can be gained by tryin’ to hurt/We never seem to think about brothers workin’ together/We always find ourselves at odds, one against the other”. It sounds unusually preachy for an arena rock band, but serves as a reminder that there was still a residuum of the political activism of the 1960s and early 1970s that occasionally found its way into music. In addition to this, “One Against the Other” is one of the stronger tracks on “Flat as a Pancake”, even if at times I’m not sure if Schlitt is the singer of a rock band or a member of Herb Jepko’s Nitecaps: “We got to work together, find a way/To help our friends and neighbors everyday”. The overall message of the song is rather upbeat, complemented well by the rather bouncy melody featured throughout the song.
This single (catalog #: 1716) was released on A&M Records in October 1975 (the Australian release of the single is shown in the picture). As far as I know, no picture sleeve was issued with this single, which had the typical A&M label from that era, with the arch-like A&M logo in the background, track information on the top, and artist/production information on the bottom. Catalog information is on the right side. The band continued to release albums throughout the remainder of the 1970s, releasing “Get Yourself Up” (1976), “Gettin’ Lucky” (1977), “Head East” (1978), “Head East Live!” (1979) and “A Different Kind of Crazy” (1979). The band was a big concert draw, but their success did not spawn many chart hits, as the only songs they released during this period that cracked the Billboard Hot 100 other than “Never Been Any Reason” were “Love Me Tonight” (#54) and their version of Russ Ballard’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” (#46). The albums were middling successes, the highest-charting LP being their 1978 self-titled album which peaked at #78. In March 1980, Dan Birney and Mike Somerville left the band, while John Schlitt was fired due to a drug dependency. The remaining two members (Boyd and Huston) recruited Mark Boatman (bass), Tony Gross (guitar), and Dan Odum (vocals) to record their next album, “U.S. 1” (1980). This was their last album on A&M Records and their last album to chart. A&M Records dropped Head East as part of a larger movement away from AOR-oriented bands towards punk and new wave bands. Head East would continue to release albums on smaller labels. Robbie Robinson replaced Mark Boatman for “Onward and Upward” (1982), released on Allegiance Records. The band would undergo several personnel changes before releasing “Choice of Weapons” (1988) on Dark Heart Records. By this point, Huston had left the band, leaving Roger Boyd as the only remaining original member. Mike Somerville would return to the fold in 1994, however, and the lineup of Boyd, Somerville, Tom Bryant (lead vocals), Rich Creadore (bass) and Dan Kelly (drums) remained intact from 1995 to 2000. The current lineup consists of Roger Boyd, Darren Walker (lead vocals). Glen Bridger (guitar, vocals), Greg Manahan (bass), and Eddy Jones (drums, vocals).