304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
The Dan Reed Network began their career in Portland, Oregon and, if Grimm is anything to go by, then at least three of them are Wesen! (If you haven’t seen that TV series you will think, quite rightly, that I am certifiable, but I’m convinced Dan would make a great Blutbad). From 1984 until they released their debut album in 1987, they plied their trade in the clubs in their home state and began honing their blended style of rock, funk and soul. They released their first single, Ritual, which brought them a much wider audience and recognition from the music press. They also opened for Bon Jovi’ in 1989 and the Rolling Stones in 1990. Their star continued to rise, particularly here in the UK and, in my opinion, they were the catalyst that brought ‘funk rock’ to a wider audience and really stamped their authority all over it…despite others attempts to get the funk out! However, all was not well in the DRN camp as Dan became disillusioned with the record business and took off in different directions. The fan base never lost hope and, in 2012 were rewarded with a 25th anniversary reunion and, for the UK at least, we are getting a tour to back up the release of a new DRN album called Origins. Well, I say new…it is a mix of four (cringe) “reimagined” songs and four new ones. The significant difference for all of them is that Dan invited fans into the studios while the songs were being recorded and the sound on the ‘woahs’ is that of a select few delirious fans. He did this in Manchester, New York, Portland and Stockholm, recording two tracks in each studio with the DRN faithful in attendance…what a fabulous way to pay the fans back for their loyalty and devotion, as well as create a unique studio atmosphere. Perhaps a better title would have ‘Nearly, Almost, But Not Quite a Live Album’. Interestingly, it sounds like Dan has developed the songs from a lyrical point of view by insisting the story is the keystone of the song and the music wraps around them, rather than shoehorning lyrics into an already completed tune.
It all kicks off with Fade to Light, and straight away the rhythms and harmonies are infectious and the guitar solo fits perfectly with the whole tone and atmosphere. It follows a regular rock structure and Dan’s vocals are laid back and melodic to give the whole thing an almost AOR quality. Ritual, as you’d expect, opens with that funk front and centre with the drums and bass, in particular, laying down a pure funk backing to what is a poppy melody. This much-improved version of the 1987 single also shows how the invited fans contributed on the chanting. Right In Front Of Me is almost a ballad as the rim snare beat builds into another pop-like structure, which is damnably catchy. It also has a tasty, albeit short, guitar solo to keep it interesting. Forgot to Make Her Mine is perhaps closer to the ‘old’ DRN with a brilliant rock riff over 80s synth and a great drum beat. Although some of the guitar work is a little low in the mix it is very effective. I can’t help but imagine the Human League being rocked up and funked out! Shameless is more pop rock with the anthem riff and a synth that is, frankly, starting to overstay it’s welcome…especially as the riff could easily carry the song over the extremely melodic lyrics. Let it Go changes the pattern thus far by bringing in the acoustic guitar to provide the background to the subtle electric. This imbues it with a more soulful feel to this reworked song, and I must say, a vast improvement on the original. Penultimatetrack, One Last Time racks the pace back up with a soul/rock/funk blend that defines what DRN is all about. The guitar solo is, at last, allowed to build and make a significant contribution. This is a class piece of laid back and subtle rock that carries its own message in more than just the lyrics. One Last Time is funk rock personified; it’s a blend without one or the other taking precedence, making it a clever and engaging softish rock track. Rainbow Child will be familiar to most, although this version comes across as a bit, dare I say it, proggish. It has a pop sensibility as if Phil Collins got his hands on it, but then mercifully left the studio. It is such a powerful song that it isn’t spoiled by this approach and it remains a damn good song.
If you were expecting a more metallic edge then you won’t find it here…what you get instead is a band at home with funk-infused with soul, gently wrapping around a core that is solid, yet subtle rock. Every one of the songs will get your foot tapping and many will bring a smile to your face…it is just a totally enjoyable album that I will use to lighten the heavier rock playlists on my iPod. I am uncertain how some DRN fans will react, but I think it is one their finest…ever.
Dan Reed: lead vocals, guitar, piano
Dan Pred: drums, percusiion, electronics
Rob Daiker: keyboards
Brion James: guitars, vocals
Melvin Brannon Jr.: electric and acoustic bass, vocals
Tracks 1 and 2 recorded in Manchester; 3 and 4 in New York; 5 and 6 in Portland and 7 and 8 in Stockholm
9 Doodle Paws out of Ten
UK tour (November 2018, special guests Mason Hill and Hollowstar)
Wednesday 7 November – Bilston, The Robin 2
Thursday 8 November – Newcastle, Riverside
Saturday 10 November – Inverness, Monsterfest, The Ironworks
Tuesday 13 November- Glasgow, The Garage
Wednesday 14 November – Wakefield, Warehouse 23
Friday 16 November – Pontypridd, Muni Arts Centre
Saturday 17 November – Chester, The Live Rooms
Wednesday 21 November – Stoke, Eleven
Thursday 22 November – Derby, The Venue
Friday 23 November – London, 229 Venue – Album Launch Party