Release Date: 3rd June 2016
Label: Frontiers Music Srl
Genre: Melodic Funk Rock
Dan Reed Network are:
Dan Reed – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitars, Piano, Synth Programming, Moog Bass,
Brion James – Vocals, Lead/Rhythm Guitars, Synth Guitars, Synth Programming, Drum Programming,
Dan Pred – Drums, Percussion, Videographer,
Melvin Brannon II – Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Bass, Electric Contra Bass, Synth Bass,
Rob Daiker – Vocals, Keyboards, Synth Programming, Drum Programming,
It would be too easy to focus on all of the major events in the world that have taken place in the 25 years between Dan Reed Network’s last album ‘The Heat’ and this, a thirteen track opus that many, including myself, thought would never happen. Instead, what I will focus on is my unwavering support and love of this band in that intervening period. An almost obsessive effort to track down as many rare and unreleased products, tracks and demos that had never seen light of day has kept me going during the period that began before I started working full time, met my wife, got married and had a daughter.
Why does this matter you may well ask, well, whilst my love of the band has never wavered, my desire to hear them release new material comes, naturally, with a sense of expectation. At the height of their career, the band were happy to sing about cars, girls, life, love and more, as befits a group full of cocksure men who embraced the rock n roll lifestyle touring with bands like Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones to name a few.
To explain the journey the individual band members, especially Dan Reed, have been on during that extended hiatus warrants a book rather than a review (Dan – if you’re reading this, I’m your man to help you write it !) but it’s safe to say that cars and girls and life in the fast lane do not feature as highly on this, the Network’s 4th album.
Opening track and lead single ‘Divided’ provides much in the way of hope for fans as the intro swirls, grooves and thanks to a little bit of vox-box work and the familiar bass work from Melvin Brannon jnr, sounds like the band I lost a quarter of a century ago. Dan’d voice is in fine form, thanks, in no small part, to several tours the band have done since reforming plus the three solo albums he’s done after re-discovering a love of music. Four minutes and forty three seconds later and there is a smile etched upon my face. That’s all it has taken to reaffirm the magic is still there.
Fans of old will smile at ‘The Brave’ with the opening vocal styling of “eh oh ee-oh ee-oh” with the band harmonising over the top of Rod Daiker’s keyboard work, making the transition to him from Blake Sakamoto feel completely natural. The funk element that underpins the band then rises to the top of the mix with ‘Infected’. If they were to ‘re-imagine’ Saturday Night Fever, the opening bars of ‘Infected’ would be the song that Tony Manero would strut to.
A pause is required at this point though as it’s clear that 25 years of life experience has delivered one important thing, maturity. The lyrical content now matters, songs about “in this world of sacrifice, in this moment of truth, ….. in this land of broken dreams, in the home of the brave” and “I will always be on your side even if everything comes crashing down this world is infected” are less about having a good time and looking instead at the state of the society and the planet and what we need to do to try and fix things. It reminds us of Dan’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs and feels completely at home in this modern day and age.
Following the ‘established’ 3 rockers and then a ballad approach to album making, ‘Champion’ , containing the line that provides the album title, delivers a powerful, moving, track that allows Brion James his moment in the spotlight. As the band lift the song skyward with a wall of emotion, Brion’s mid point solo pushes it into the outer reaches of the atmosphere. It is followed by short instrumental ‘Ignition’, with its ‘Ritual’-esque intro that keeps a tribal groove and feel going before Dan Pred’s drumming kicks in with a recognisable Brion James riff. The smile definitely remains in place for fans of old. Again the lyrical content shows the maturity and experience that maybe has passed me by in my efforts to remain 20 something and hang onto the 80s lifestyles I remember so fondly.
‘B There With You’ has all the hallmarks of the record company meeting that said “We want another Rainbow Child” and the intro immediately transports us back to 1989 and the video where Dan was wearing long head scarves to give the impression of hair after he’d cut it all of in a moment of, let’s call it inspiration. Nowadays, the scarves nor the hair are needed for an artist to prove they can perform and as the band prove on ‘Save The World’ a song that, at the mid-point, could easily have been a filler but instead asks the important questions of the listener and wraps it all up in a funked up bass led anthem that will hopefully become a staple favourite in future live shows.
With 13 songs on offer and with the first 8 managing to not only remind us what was great about the band but also holding our attention throughout, it then falls to the latter part of the album as the test to see if the band are really back with a vengeance or whether they’ve peaked and climaxed too early.
‘Eye of the Storm’ feels like a grove led latter era Genesis song and has a great sing along chorus, ‘Reunite’ shows how a modern Network should sound with Rob Daiker doing a great job to update the keyboard sound the band are known for and make it seem current and highly relevant when stood up against other mainstream acts. It’s a talent he and Dan have refined on Dan’s solo albums and of all of the songs on the new Network release this one feel the most like it’s come from Dan’s solo catalogue.
‘Heaven’ dials it all down and presents a song that could be paired with Netflix to provide the ultimate chill, and ‘Sharp Turn’ is a classic Network track with the Brion James guitar riff sitting alongside the keyboard work so ably supported by Pred and Brannon who hold it all together. A great example of the 5 members working in harmony with each other.
The album closes out with ‘Stand Tall’ and with its ‘Doin’ The Love Thing’ vibe, it serves as neat bookend to the album, reminding us that however much life, people and the planet changes these talented musicians
To pick up on a line in the closing track, “Oh I want to be there to catch you and break your fall…. stand tall”…… If only everyone took that viewpoint, the world would be a better place. Something I think Dan Reed Network are hoping for these days.
If you liked the Network before, this will be a welcome return. If you missed them or were too young to appreciate them first time around, get this and the other 3 albums post-haste. A tour to launch the album is forthcoming with dates below.
Sometimes quality cannot be measured, so I’m not going to score this…. judge for yourself.
Review by: Adrian Hextall
DAN REED NETWORK
2016 EUROPEAN CD RELEASE TOUR
HARD ROCK CAFE – OSLO, NORWAY
SATURDAY 4th JUNE 2016
DAN REED NETWORK CD Release Show
Tel: +47 40 00 62 60
Address: Karl Johansgate 45, 0162 Oslo
LISEBERG – GOTEBORG, SWEDEN
TUESDAY 7th JUNE 2016
Tel: +46 31 40 01 00
Address: Address: Örgrytevägen 5, 402 22 Göteborg, Sweden
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL
FRIDAY 10th JUNE 2016
Tel: 0456-317 95
Email: [email protected]
Address: Nygatan 27, 294 34 Sölvesborg
ROCK CAFE ST. PAULI – HAMBURG, GERMANY
MONDAY 13th JUNE 2016
Tel: +49 179 1349633
Address: Silbersackstraße 27, 20359 Hamburg, Germany