The DNR — Dan Reed Network — is a band formed by Dan Reed in Portland, Oregon back in 1984.
Their sound can best be described as soul and jazz based rock. They combine the characteristics of the heaviest funk with a mettlesome rock edge all abundantly seasoned with clever guitar-work and bravely executed pop hooks.
Dan Reed worked with Nile Rodgers for the second album titled “Slam” and toured Europe in the winter of 1989 with Bon Jovi. Success on this tour led to DNR being chosen to support the Rolling Stones for their Steel Wheels Tour.
Their third album, “The Heat” (1991) was their biggest success in the UK, mainly because of the single “Lover.”
In 1993, the band members decided to go on a prolonged break. Though they never officially broke up, Dan Reed continued to work alone, or in some cases in collaboration with other well-known musicians, like Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme.
DNR with Brion Joneson on vocals, guitars and keyboards, plus Dan Pred on drums, Melvin Brannon II on vocals and bass guitars and Rob Daiker on vocals and keys/synth programming, have come together to release a new album this June, titled “Fight Another Day.”
Also on-board the newly invigorated project is old pal Derek Shulman, the Scottish musician who was once the lead vocalist for Gentle Giant in the 1970s. He helped sign Dan Reed to Polygram back in ’87 and now acts as the band’s co-manager.
The album opener “Divided” has a riff that huskily rides the rhythm peaks. This number will almost certainly remind you of “You Give Love a Bad Name. ” Those weeks with Bon Jovi paid off! The melody is clear, the keys are nostalgic. The beats are quick-tempered, and the chorus is more engaging than a cocktail of cocaine ‘n’ nicotine.
The song is all about regaining ones strength to “fly” again. It’s a nice job, smoothly-textured, swizzle-stick fancy, terribly clever and all that. But it seems somewhat restrained to our ears. We know that Dan is a clear-headed kinda fellow. And his fellow bandmates are also serious-minded guys. But why not fire-up the engines on this one? For us, it lacks guts, gusto and gumption.
“The Brave” has more Jan Hammer-style synths and more gurgling bass-notes than you can shake a selfie stick at. The emotions vortex on this piece like spatter-dock twiddles on the Seminole Gulf. Yup! You can imagine that Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs are on the trail of a kingpin boss, as you listen to this. It evokes pastel-coloured Versace silks, Ray-Ban wayfarers worn in open-top Carreras and offshore powerboats surging in a powder-blue sea.
“Champion” is darker and perhaps more introspective. It reminds us a lot of “No Jacket Required” era Phil Collins. And maybe that is no bad thing, especially if you are a listener of a certain age. So expect a developing number here, with slow-paced rhythms, top-notch vocals and an exquisitely crafted chorus that bleeds that “Fight Another Day” sentiment.
For all the talk of ‘experimentation’ from Reed “Stand Tall” is one of just a few tracks on this album that sound truly innovative. And we even say that with a pinch of salt. This would be a perfect James Bond title song though. (We hope that the studios pick up Reed next time.) You will love the darkness that can be found in the folds. And the lyrics will help you keep strong. The bass keeps your head nodding, and the guitar break is supreme and confident.
Fans of DNR describe the intense feeling associated with this band as “full and energetic with spirit”. Their sounds clearly influenced people in a positive way, back in the day. And that’s a good thing.
And here is more soul-calming material, meticulously executed, for those same folks to enjoy.
And if there really is a 1980s revival going on right now (some believe there is) then this album is perfectly timed to cash in on those sentiments.
For longtime fans of Dan Reed there is no doubt that this album is worth the wait.
But for us, this disc is long journey down memory lane, forking into nostalgia street. It’s a journey we’re not ready to take. Well, not just yet.