"Head On" is a song written by Jim Reid and William Reid of the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain. It was originally recorded for the group's 1989 album Automatic and was released as a single in November 1989.


 [hide*1 Background


In the UK, it was released in seven different formats, including four 7" singles. One 7" single was released per week, and one of them included a cardboard box to house the full set.

Although the song only made it up to #57 in the country where the band first found fame, the United Kingdom, it peaked at #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart in theUnited States.

The song has been covered by several other groups, most notably the American alternative rock band Pixies on their fifth studio album, Trompe Le Monde.

Track listing[edit]Edit

All tracks written by Jim Reid and William Reid, except where noted.

7" (NEG42)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "In The Black" - 2:59
7" (NEG42XB)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "Terminal Beach" - 2:25
7" (NEG42Y)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "Deviant Slice" - 3:00
7" (NEG42Z)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "I'm Glad I Never" (Lee Hazelwood) - 1:31
12" (NEG42TE)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "In The Black" - 2:59
  3. "Terminal Beach" - 2:25
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "In The Black" - 2:59
  3. "Drop (Acoustic Remix)" - 1:52
  4. "Break Me Down" - 2:29
Cassette (NEG42C)
  1. "Head On" - 4:11
  2. "In The Black" - 2:59


The Jesus and Mary Chain[edit]Edit

Additional personnel[edit]Edit

Pixies cover[edit]Edit

"Head On"
Single by Pixies
from the album Trompe le Monde
A-side "Head On" (Single Mix)

"Planet of Sound" (Live) "Tame" (Live)

"Debaser" (Live)

Released 1991
Format 7"cassetteCD
Recorded 1991

Master Control, Burbank; PacifiqueBurbank; Studio des dames, Paris; Blackwing StudiosLondon.

Genre Alternative rock
Length 2:14
Label Elektra
Writer(s) Jim Reid and William Reid
Producer(s) Gil Norton
Pixies singles chronology
"Letter to Memphis"


"Head On"




"Head On" was covered by the American alternative rock band Pixies for their 1991 album Trompe le Monde. The Pixies' version was released as a single in 1991.


By 1991, the Pixies refused to film music videos for their singles. After a long debate with their record company in the United States — Elektra Records — the band relented and agreed to film a video, as long as the song was done completely live. Peter Lubin, the A&R representative of Elektra at the time, later explained the situation:[1]

By completely live that means full band, vocals, cameras roll, video's done by the end of two minutes and 13 seconds. One take, that's it. So those became the ground rules, that was the only way you were going to get a Pixies video for 'Head On' or anything else.

Lubin then came up with the idea for the video. Twelve cameras would be placed, "dividing" each band member into three blocks. Frontman Black Francis was happy with this idea, so Scott Litt was then hired to produce the video.[2] After the video had been filmed, Elektra invited the "whole decision-making team from MTV" to view it. "Head On"'s video was then added onto MTV's rotation, with the video later receiving the "Breakthrough Video" award.[2]

Pixies' track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Black Francis, except where noted

  1. "Head On" (Single Mix) (Jim Reid and William Reid) – 2:20
  2. "Planet of Sound" (Live at Brixton Academy, July 26, 1991) – 2:26
  3. "Tame" (Live at Brixton Academy, July 26, 1991) – 2:27
  4. "Debaser" (Live in Chicago, August 9, 1989) – 2:41

Other cover versions[edit]Edit

Other groups who have recorded "Head On" include the Brazilian rock band Legião Urbana on their 1992 album, Acústico MTV, the Valencian glam punk band Gore Gore Gays and the Argentina's indie rock band El mató a un policía motorizado recorded it in Spanish. The alternative rock band squint recorded it live on a now very rare single tilted "Starkville, MS 6/02". Also covered by German band Beatsteaks on Boombox + X in 2011.

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