I admit I was never a fan of Dan Reed Network back in their eighties heyday, finding their brand of Funk Rock too overproduced for my tastes. However, since they relaunched themselves with ‘Fight Another Day’ in 2016 I’ve began to appreciate what they do, but still prefer the more contemporary sound of their newer material; in fact I’d rate the four new tracks on 2018’s ‘Origins’ as easily their best material ever.
So I was a little perturbed when I heard that their sixth album ‘Let’s Hear It For The King’ was a return to the Funk Rock with which they made their name, and it definitely is; but it also retains their newly discovered contemporary sound and adds a more muscular guitar style that complements the harder-hitting and often darker lyrical content. DRN have never shied away from airing their valid political and social viewpoints before, but this is one seriously pissed-off record that’s a million miles away from ‘Rainbow Child’ and ‘Tiger In A Dress’, as the likes of ‘Unfuck My World’ and the title-track attest to. In revisiting their Funk roots it’s certainly a step back for the band, but at the same time takes a huge leap forward.
The first two singles ‘Starlight’ and ‘Pretty Karma’ offer a more straight-forward Hard Rock style, and ‘The Ghost Inside’ and the bouncy ‘Are You Ready’ follow suit, but it’s the material like ‘Supernova’, ‘Homegrown’, ‘Where’s The Revolution’ and ‘Stumble’ (where Brion James’ guitar and Melvin Brannon II’s thundering bass integrate together brilliantly) that are the real Funk-driven numbers, while ‘Last Day On Saturn’ is a dynamic and dramatic slower yet hard-hitting piece to close the album. However, shining like a beacon amidst all the provocative lyrical content on offer is guitarist Brion James’ uplifting and quite lovely ballad ‘I See Angels’, acting as counterpoint and providing a mid-album light to all the darkness around it. Overall throughout the album, the melodies aren’t exactly immediately stimulating, but expose themselves gradually and truly get under your skin in a genuinely satisfying way.
‘Let’s Hear It For The King’ is by far and away the heaviest, most political, most angry, most outspoken and most intense DRN album to date, and with that easily the best – Let’s Hear It For The Network.
Reviewer: Ant Heeks
Genre: Hard Rock
Reviewed In Issue #99