Dan Reed Network, were the nearly men of the funk/rock crossover. Incorporating the finest funk of Prince and matching them to hard rock stylings of Bon Jovi, and led by the implausibly good-looking Dan Reed, they should have been huge superstars. Unfortunately, the single that was due to get the big push from their record label – the sublime “Rainbow Child”, from their excellent 2nd album, SLAM - was hamstrung by Reed’s decision to shave his head completely bald on the morning of the video shoot. Despite support slots with the aforementioned Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones, Dan Reed Network never really took off – the main problem being that they were deemed to be “too funky for rock radio and too rock for the R&B channels” in America. The band agreed to go on hiatus after promotion for their 3rd album, The Heat was released in 1991. The band reformed for a couple of one off shows before officially reconvening in 2013. They finally released their 4th album Fight Another Day in June 2016.
“Divided” opens the album and is a standard Dan Reed style rocker. A pretty good opener, however the mention of “the lonely sun” in the chorus, very much like the song, harks back to the album The Heat. Kind of business as usual and not in a bad way. “The Brave” opens up with a pretty memorable “Ay-oh-ay-aye” chant and is built round some decent keyboards by new boy Rob Daiker, who replaced original keyboard player, Blake Sakamoto. Another rocker and shows The Network are back and on form but at this point, I’m beginning to think that the band haven’t moved on in over 20 years and I can’t decide if I’m enjoying the familiarity or wishing they would push themselves into new territory.
“Infected” shows off the funk side of the band with bass player Melvin Brannon II and drummer Dan Pred, locking down the groove and again, I like the song but think that it could have been taken from any of their previous 3 albums – both praise and a criticism at the same time?? The next song “Champion” is a slow groover which builds to a brilliant guitar line climax from and further proof that the band knows it way around a tune. Next up is the African-tinged “Ignition” which is a kind of companion piece to the introduction to “Ritual” from the band’s eponymous debut – more nods to their past. Acting almost as an intro it leads straight in to the stomping “Give It Love” which has an intro/chorus that sounds as heavy as anything the band have done before dropping down into a stripped back verse. This is a great straight ahead rocker, which builds all the way. Despite the annoying single letter title of “B There With U” (Sorry, it’s one of my pet peeves), the ballad smooths its way through just over four and a half very pleasant minutes. Reed’s voice is definitely suited to this type of song.
The reggae feel of “Save The World” marks a bit of a different style for the band and it’s most welcome (despite another mention of the lonely sun). It sounds like there is a different lead singer but as I got this album as a digital download, I can’t confirm if that is correct and if it is, who the singer is! I also love the sound on the bass of this song (possibly an octave divider? Can a bass playing friend can help me out with that please??). The band returns to more rocky stylings with “Eye Of The Storm” and whilst being decent enough, it’s not one of the more memorable tracks on offer here. “Reunite” is another slight departure from the usual “funk/rock” style and the song has its roots in club music. Reed owned a night club in his home town of Portland, Oregon and clearly, some of the music seeped in to his/the band’s sub-conscious. A brave and welcome move. Another ballad follows – “Heaven” and this, for me, is one of the weaker songs on the album. Again, it’s pleasant enough but sort of drifts by, save for a decent guitar solo from Brion James. Fortunately, this lull is quickly forgotten with the arrival of “Sharp Turn”. Again the club influences are there in the form of the intro. The album closes with low down dirty groove of “Stand Tall”. It’s a great finishing song with a funky bass line but the rock stylings are all there – a great choice for album closer.
This album has enough familiarity to stamp it as a Dan Reed Network album and it’s worthy of bearing their name. It also has enough adventure to show that the band aren’t going to rest on their laurels. My one slight criticism is that it’s perhaps a couple of songs too long but for now, it’s great to have them back. Long may the re-union continue.