Dan Reed Band photo

DAN REED – Signal Fire

Dan Reed - Signal FireIf you are Swedish or English, specially if you were a young rocker in the late 80’s / early 90’s, and the name Dan Reed doesn’t ring a bell, then you probably lived in a cave somewhere far off. Dan and his band, the Dan Reed Network were big in Sweden and the U.K., sold shitload of records and toured frequently, both as a headliner and as an opening act to major league bands like Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. But the rest of the world showed little interest in the band, which is weird as the band didn’t just consist of world-class musicians, they also released three brilliant albums (Dan Reed Network, (1988), Slam (1989) and The Heat (1991)) full of catchy, sweaty funky, hard rock ‘n’ roll with melodies and hooks to die for. The fact that  Dan Reed Network never became huge is proof that life isn’t fair – not one bit, because they really should have been. After the band disbanded in 1993 things were awfully quiet in the DRN camp, but in 1998 Dan Reed formed the ill-fated (and rightfully so) band Adrenaline Sky, which released one album (a bootleg half studio, half live album, if I’m not misinformed). Dan jumped on the grunge bandwagon, a bad move as Dan Reed and grunge didn’t mix one bit. Maybe it was a good thing that the album wasn’t officially released, because it might just had scared off the few fans he had left. The album really was that bad.

So let’s fast forward some good ten years. Things had been really quiet again since the Adrenaline Sky break up and us DRN-fans thought that we’d seen and heard the last of Dan Reed when he suddenly popped up out of nowhere, doing “An Evening With Dan Reed” where he played his old DRN songs and more acoustically anywhere people would take him in. The word got out that he was back and doing some really good shows, both acoustic and with his new outfit, the Dan Reed Band and soon enough he started to draw a big crowd again and the touring became more and more frequent until talk of a new album was unavoidable. So we were writing 2010 and Dan Reed finally released his debut solo album Coming Up For Air, an album that us fans had been longing for for ages. However, the album was a pretty hard nut to crack, giving us none of the explosive funked up rock we were used to, only a bunch of mellow, deep songs, almost all of them bordering on ballads. Still, disappointment didn’t last for long as the album grew on you with every listen and today I praise that album. Mellow, yes, but all the songs are brilliant and Dan Reed’s very personal way of writing melodies makes it easy to hear who wrote them.

This year, Dan Reed is back with his second solo effort, this time promised to be both more uptempo and rockier than it’s predecessor. And after one listen it turns out that the promises were kept, at least on the uptempo side of things. Rockier? Well, yes, but this album is more pop than rock, still with all the stuff that features a Dan Reed song. Like the title track that opens the album. It’s a fantastic song, catchy as hell and a rock song with pop influences. Or the other way around, if that is preferred. Second song up is “All I Need Is You”, a brilliant pop track, very danceable and it could be a hit if this album was promoted well enough. “End Of The World” is great, a dark track with a Def Leppard “Hysteria” beat and a killer melody, “Last Leaf” is awesome and goes right into AOR / melodic rock territory – catchy as could be and “Avalanche” is a very good straight forward pop song. With “Slow Down” Dan Reed rocks for real, “Indestructible” is a dark, moody and gloomy ballad – and a great one, “Soul Warrior” is a very good acoustic based uptempo pop song and closing track “Drive On” is one of the best tracks here, a bit on the faster side of catchy pop rock.

Once again, Dan Reed has delivered the goods. The production here is faultless and serves the songs and the sound in a great way and the mixing is perfect. And so is the mastering. It’s really nice to hear a record in 2013 that sounds as good through headphones as in your car stereo. But if there is anything to complain about here, and we must complain about something, right?, it’s this: I really do miss the hard rock funky stuff of DRN and I want to hear that again. I’m not sure we ever will hear that again and if we don’t, well, that’s ok. As long as Mr Reed and band provides us with brilliant stuff like this.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Tracklist:

01. Signal Fire
02. All I Need Is You
03. Only Love
04. Sing To Me
05. End Of The World
06. Last Leaf
07. Avalanche
08. Slow Down
09. Beloved
10. All Night
11. Indestructible
12. Soul Warrior
13. Drive On

2 comments on “DAN REED – Signal Fire

  1. Hi Jon. Enjoyed reading your review of Dan’s latest album. Sorry to see though, you did not like the Adrenalin Sky album. I think it’s an interesting album and the song Blow you Away is one of my favourite Dan Reed songs and at least, according to the videos on youtube Dan seemed to be enjoying playing with the band he had then. Hope to read some more reviews from yourself especially if yuo will be reviewing any of Dan’s gigs. Keep on rocking my friend.

  2. Well, I was never a grunge fan and Adrenline Sky was just that. Or at least alternative. Dan Reed and grunge don’t mix, at least not in my book.
    Thanks for the kind words and I will, of course review any Dan Reed gig that I attend. He recently played a gig here in Sweden but unfortunatley I missed that.

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