DAN REED – Transmission

dan_reed-transmissionIsn’t it strange how some artists just suddenly disappears, just like they have vanished into thin air, just to reappear after years on hiatus, popping up like the man in the box and all of a sudden they’re everywhere all the time? Dan Reed is such an artist. Dan Reed was heading for stardom with his band Dan Reed Network in the late eighties and we were many who thought that they were the next big thing. Their funk ridden melodic hard rock had a broad aim, they were pop and funk enough for the mainstream audience that didn’t have hard rock as their favourite music and they were rough enough with big guitars and heavy drumming for the rock audience. But despite releasing three killer albums and getting the support slot on tours with huge names such as Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones, the Network never took off at all – it’s one of music’s biggest mysteries, in my opinion. Dan Reed Network SHOULD have been huge – it’s crazy that more people didn’t get them. Only in Sweden and Great Britain did Dan Reed and his Network catch a break, but the rest of the world – and in America mostly – were cold to the band. The band broke up in the mid nineties and Reed formed the ill-fated Adrenaline Sky, an alternative / grunge outfit. Dan was trying to hang on to what was popular at the time, but of course, that band bombed completely. The only record I heard by them was a mix of songs that sounded like demos and some live stuff, can’t even remember the name of that CD, but I remember that it sucked. Hard. And it felt fake. Dan Reed was never grunge. Or alternative. Dan Reed is rock, pop, funk and all about groove and melodies. But after years and years of silence, Reed finally came back in the mid 2000’s, playing shitloads of acoustic gigs – An Evening With Dan Reed –  and many of those gigs were put in Sweden, one of Dan’s biggest markets and since then he has been in our faces regularly. Heck, he has even reunited with Dan Reed Network and just recently, he broke the news that a new album from that band will be recorded this year. I can’t wait! But while I look forward to that, I can always still my hunger with a new Dan Reed solo record, his third since his debut solo album, the fabulous Coming Up For Air (2010) and following the great Signal Fire from 2013. Now, both Reed’s albums has been more or less laid back pop albums and even though I really love them both, I think he has reached a point now where he really needs to rock out a bit.

Opener “Broken Soul” doesn’t get my hopes up in that department at all. Nope, it’s a mellow and slow rock song, that on one hand has some heavy guitar riffing in it, but on the other hand, it’s still slow and mellow. That said, it has a great melody with a nice pop feel and I really like the song. “Roll The Dice” follows in the slow footsteps of the former song, but this song is more of a real ballad. It’s a really good song and the melody is very catchy and I hear single material here. The tempo goes up a bit with “Drive”, the song is actually almost a rocker and this is better suited as the album’s opener, I think – great song. And finally, finally some loud guitars, a steady beat and a great groove is given to us in “Anywhere But Here”, a killer tune and my favourite song on this album. “Bending The Light” is a ballad and has the same vibe as the stuff on Coming Up For Air. Another ballad comes along in “Arm Yourself”, but with this one we get both groove and a really good melody. “You’re All I Need” is a – you guessed it – a ballad. Lyrically, I get the feeling it’s written for his wife and all good there. Unfortunately, the song itself is a bit forgettable. I’m confused by “On The Metro”. I really don’t know if I like this or not. It’s a jazzy tune, almost lounge music and I can hear an artist like Sade sing this. I guess it’s good. He keeps walking the jazz road with “Ear To The Track”, but enough is enough with me. This doesn’t go anywhere and I find it dull. “What Dreams May Come” is the total opposite to that. Yes, it’s a ballad, but it’s an awesome ballad, catchy as they come and in my book, a hit. As in HIT! The finishing track – ballad – “She’s Not You” is also a real killer. It’s a break-up song, very emotional and it feels very real.

As a whole, I must say I’m a bit disappointed in this album. Not that the songs suck because they don’t – Dan Reed couldn’t write a crap album even if he tried – and not that the sonics aren’t top-notch and it’s not that the musicians aren’t any good (Dan’s guys, Swedes Bengan Johansson on bass and Robert Ikiz on drums are both world-class musicians), it’s just that all the mellow tunes and the ballads gets too much. Yes, all the distinct and very personal melodies are there, you can hear in a split second if Dan Reed has written a melody, but it doesn’t really matter. Why can’t we have some attitude, some punch, some rock? This album just keeps going in the same direction all the way through and I find it hard to concentrate on listening to the whole thing back to back. On the other hand, it’s impossible to bring out the chainsaw on this album because the songs are way too good for that. I mean, had this been Reed’s first solo record, the rating would have been much higher. I guess I have to wait for the new Dan Reed Network record if I want to hear Dan rock out, but it sure would be cool to hear him have a go at the rock as a solo artist as well. Good album, but a bit too soft – again. Let’s hope for a rocker next time, then. I know he has it in him.

Jon Wilmenius (6/10)

Tracklist:

01. Broken Soul
02. Roll The Dice
03. Drive
04. Anywhere But Here
05. Bending The Light
06. Arm Yourself
07. Fire In The Pyramid
08. You’re All I Need
09. On The Metro
10. Ear To The Track
11. What Dreams May Come
12. Already There
13. She’s Not You

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