Review: Dan Reed Network – ‘Origins’

Dan Reed never went away. Yeah, The Network went away for a while, but Dan Reed himself has always been a regular fixture on the UK gig scene. A very busy man indeed. When Dan Reed Network reconvened, I have to admit that I was a tad apprehensive. When one of your favourite bands get back together after a long while, there is a sense of joy, but also that fear of… what if it spoils my memories? Then I caught them live, and any fears quickly vanished within the opening minutes. ‘Life-affirming’ perhaps being an apt description. Rarely will a band get back together and play with such vigour. The lust for life between the old friends (as well as new friend Rob Daiker) was there for all to see. Transferring that into a studio setting might have seemed a tricky prospect, but then Dan Reed Network hit upon the genius idea of inviting fans into the studio and becoming a part of the recording process. The phrase “filmed live before a studio audience” taking on new meanings. So, now we have ‘Origins’, a brand new studio album featuring an equal mix of new tracks as well as Dan Reed Network classics re-imagined. The dreaded word ‘re-imagined’, but for once, a band re-imagining past material works really well, and the songs have a fresh impetus to them… but let’s focus on the four new tracks first. Album opener and first single, ‘Fade To Light’, is the benchmark for bands to aim for when it comes to wiping out that imaginary line between musicians and their fans. Using fans as a choir of backing vocalists? A brilliant concept that gives the song a real “collective” feel. Reed is as effective a storyteller now as he was back in the late ‘80’s and ‘Right In Front Of Me’ proves it. A timely reminder to stand still and take a look at what we all actually have, rather than what we don’t have. ‘Shameless’ has fantastic keyboards from “newbie” Rob Daiker, and plays well alongside Reed’s towering vocals. That guitar tone from Brion James though… sheesh, what’s the guitar equivalent of a mic-drop moment? ‘One Last Time’ is all about the groove from bassist Melvin Brannon Jr and the quiet man at the back, drummer Dan Pred. A melodic and commercial few minutes with some of the most contagious drumming that you’ll ever hear. So, what of the re-imagined staples from the Dan Reed Network back catalogue then? ‘Ritual’ originally had the ‘80’s keyboard sound that was very typical of that era. Here it has been dragged kicking and screaming into 2018. The tribal intro from the original has been moved to the middle section and features the studio audience as backing vocalists. It’s fresh, and sounds massive. No point in taking on older songs and using a cookie cutter. Reed introduces ‘Forgot To Make Her Mine’ with “Hey Brion, let’s drop the politics and rock this place..”, and that they do. Tracked in the world famous Power Station in New York with a live audience, the band certainly took advantage of the renowned drum sound that the Power Station produces. Brion James is the star player on ‘Let It Go’. His guitar work replaces the piano-driven original, and the difference is astounding. Very uplifting. What else but ‘Rainbow Child’ could close out the album? Recorded in Stockholm, with the live audience again providing the vocals on the choruses and the outro, it’s exquisite as ever, but with added poignancy. 30 plus years old that one. Quite a scary thought, especially to everyone that remembers trying, and failing, to bust a move to it back in the day. The unmistakable vocals from Dan Reed are as powerful today as they were when he first exploded onto the scene. Here, back with the DRN, he has never sounded as energetic or as full of life. Life, it seems, is good in the Dan Reed Network camp, and you would be wise not to miss them on their current tour. Not so much a gig, more of a celebration of life really. ‘Origins’ is available November 23rd, more information here. Dan Reed Network are on tour throughout November. Check out the tour poster above for all dates. Review: Dave Live image on header: Rob Wilkins ]]>

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