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Dan Reed Network – Origins Review

Genre: Rock

Label: Zero One Entertainment

Release Date: November 23rd 2018

Line Up 

Dan Reed: Vocals

Dan Pred: Drums

Rob Daiker: Keys 

Melvin Brannon Jr: Bass

Brion James: Guitar

Tracklisting:

Fade To Light

Ritual

Right In Front Of Me

Forgot To Make Her Mine

Shameless

Let It Go

One Last Time

Rainbow Child

 

You may initially look at this, the new album from Portland funk rockers, Dan Reed network and wonder if it’s a best of and rarities release. 8 tracks, 4 of which will be instantly familiar (by name) to the fans that have followed the band for years and 4 others. 

This album is so much more than you might expect however. Recorded across 4 different open house \ studio session dates which saw fans attend recording sessions and witness the birth of new songs as well as having the unique opportunity to be part of the album and record gang vocals that have all made it into the final mixes of the tracks on Origins. 

Having made the trip north to Manchester for the first studio session, the brainchild of Manager Dario Nikzad, the day played out like the ultimate fanboy’s dream. The band’s equipment laid out in the middle of the room, 3 standard lamps to add a piece of bohemian atmosphere, seating for around 100 plus fans around the outside and bluetooth over ear headphones so that everyone could listen to what was being played and recorded rather than the overriding sound of Dan Pred’s drum kit which is all we could hear without the magic of the technology. 

Opening track Fade To Light was the first of the 8 tracks recorded for the new album and if you watch the video below you’ll get a sense of just what it meant to fans and band combined. You’ll hear the 100 strong choir on the chorus and it adds a wonderful sense of community and togetherness to the track summing up the intent of the song perfectly. 

Of course, if you know me and listen closely you can of course hear my voice above the others on the chorus….. (said everyone of the people in attendance that day, including me!)  

With the added “woah oah, hey aahhh” in Ritual also supplied by the Manchester choir, it suddenly becomes obvious that this is neither a studio release nor a live album. It may have been recorded under studio conditions with small errors, changes of mind about certain segments etc.. triggering another take until the song was nailed but it was also recorded, like so many US TV sitcoms “in front of a live studio audience” which also makes it partly a live album. So what is it? A livudio release, ‘unleashed in the studio’… no that one’s taken. Either way, it’s a hybrid and probably the one of the first of its kind. 

The format continues with other live studio sessions taking in places like New York City and the band’s home town of Portland, Oregon. One new song, one classic reworked. Right In Front Of Me, Shameless and One Last Time (along with Fade To Light) are worth the price of purchasing this alone and will certainly be received well if any are played on the winter tour the band undertake before their break during 2019. Right In Front Of Me oozes energy, Shameless goes for the softer approach and One Last Time brings out the groove reminding us just why we fell in love with this band first time around. 

Of the other tracks, the re-recorded songs we know so well and being the fans we are, the fear of what we love being tampered with [Remember This Left Feels Right by Bon Jovi? It’s best not to….]. Thankfully the tracks have a new lease of life blown into them. Ritual for example which does feel slightly dated as a result of the very 80s keyboards (which is when it was recorded) now feels modern and fresh and with the added vocals (you can hear me on there you know ! 🙂  ) it’s got an even more tribal feel about it. Again, clearly an extension of the original intent of the track. 

Forgot To Make Her Mine, when Dan says “Hey Brion, let’s drop the politics and rock this place down..” before Brion James launches into with the familiar intro riff, the subtle vocal additions make the track feel far more a street track, a commentary from the neighborhood where the band grew up perhaps. The local choir of fans add the requisite parts on the chorus and it really feels like it could have been a track from a Jets vs Sharks stand off in West Side Story. Maybe a new video needs to be shot! And if the point when Dan reminds us that “My baby took me to school..” doesn’t send shivers down the back, then you have no musical appreciation! 

Let It Go has a cool, uptempo feel to it, with new life breathed into it by the loose breezy guitar work of Brion once more. It’s then left to Rainbow Child to close which hasn’t been tampered with too much as it’s one of those tracks that can’t really be bettered and the fans wouldn’t allow too much deviation otherwise placards and picket lines would be drawn up outside the studio. The audience add a lovely harmony on the chorus and it’s just enough for people to remember the experience without detracting from the beauty of the original. 

So how does one score this… 8 songs, 40 minutes, an old school album length but 4 of the tracks are old songs… The clever, ingenious, fan pleasing inclusion of the studio sessions make this as much a personal thing for those who were present as it does for those who get an insight into what the sessions were like if they weren’t able to attend. There are also people out there getting in to the band for the first time. Not every was there when Slam came out (for info we are almost at the 30th anniversary folks!) so the old songs are also new songs. With a fresh take on them, they sit well with the new material and give the whole album a sense of cohesion and a sound that is definitely a fit for the modern music scene. 

Of course however constructive I try and be, I’m a fan since day one and of course I love everything about this. I’d have liked 10 tracks not just 8 and I think perhaps the band would have as well but planning and executing so many live sessions was a huge labour of love and one that has clearly paid off. Maybe with one more session to follow 2 more tracks might arrive as extras next year, who knows… 

Score: 9/10

Review by: Adrian Hextall 

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