Unsung Heroes No. 7 – Dan Reed

28 11 2008
Melvin,Dan P,Dan R, Blake, Brion

L-R: Melvin,Dan P,Dan R, Blake, Brion

Back in the 80’s, as my Trapeze and Mother’s Finest albums had just about been played into oblivion, and the only funk around was Cameo in a red plastic jock strap, I was lounging at home preparing to watch a new “experiment” on British Television – All night programming. It seems quaint now, doesn’t it? but back then, the Yorkshire region was lucky enough to have been chosen to host “Music Box” – a series of hourly programmes running from midnight ’til six in the morning, consisting almost entirely of the promos that were being spewed forth from this video generation. The music, by this time – mid 80’s, was largely vacuous and disposable. But I remember the moment, the exact moment when the Dan Reed Network burst onto the screen with “Get to You”.

I almost fell out of my chair! This was what I’d been waiting for, the perfect fusion of 80’s technology with rock, funk and soul – the missing link to the funk rock of the 70’s. Dan’s voice was a perfect foil for the great band behind him. Possessed of a great scream, and soulful delivery, he really sold the song. Nasty bass from Melvin Brannon lll and Hendrixian guitar from Brion James really brought something to the party. Keyboard textures and stabs from Blake Sakamoto and wonderful interplay between digital rhythms and drummer Dan Pred completed this hard-hitting package.

Suffice to say, they screamed onto the scene, a great, cosmopolitan image, killer songs, Def Leppards management company, support slots for the Stones and Bon Jovi – they were going to be massive!

But they never were. I like to call it the Kev Moore kiss of death – any band I love never garners mass appeal. But I also think its a lot to do with the genre. People aren’t comfortable with crossover acts. Glenn Hughes and Mothers Finest suffer similarly. Rock fans aren’t comfortable with the danceable funky beats, and the dance freaks don’t want the guitars. Yet to me, this is the highest form of pop music. Rock you can dance to! Is there anything better? Not to me.

The Dan Reed Network released three killer albums, and they’re all worth checking out.

Dan Reed Network (1988)

Slam (1989)

The Heat (1991)

By 1993, the band members were beginning to go their separate ways, Dan Pred and Blake Sakamoto most notably appearing on the Slowrush album “Volume”. Dan Reed formed the band “Adrenaline Sky’ and released an eponymous album which featured 50/50 live and studio cuts. In 2004 he released an EP entitled “Sharp Turn” which was indeed a sharp turn away from the rock funk of his past. An almost eerie collection of electronica, the songs nevertheless shine through, showing that Dan had far from lost his touch.

Dan Reed

Dan Reed

Following a period living in Israel, Dan, a deeply thoughtful and considerate man, has now emerged and undertaken a tour that precedes the release of his new album “Coming up for Air”.

His music was inspiring to me in the 80’s, and to my daughter too, who was too young to ever see DRN live, but in recent years Dan has become a friend of the family, and she realised her dream of seeing him work in his studio in New York.

A musician’s musician, his return to the stage is a welcome one.

Kev Moore





The Jess Roden Poll

19 11 2008

I am very proud and pleased to note that, as a result of my creating this blog, there has been some interest in the possibility of a Jess Roden Compilation being sanctioned for release. With that in mind , I have introduced a poll, based on some of my ideas for tracks, and I want to get some feedback from people so we might be heard by the powers that be. Speaking for myself, my only aim is to see Jess’s music out there and available. There is so much of his work that has until now been passed over for CD release. I have no agenda, other than seeing good music see the light of day. Please participate, and feel free to make your own suggestions. You can only vote for one song – so make it count!

You will notice there are 2 other categories, one will allow you to leave your own suggestion. The other ‘other’ is if you can’t make up your mind! GET VOTING!!

Kev Moore





Unsung Heroes No. 6 – Kip Winger

18 11 2008
Kip Winger - Seriously Talented

Kip Winger - Seriously Talented

Another incredibly talented musician who suffered a similar fate to Rick Springfield (see Unsung Heroes No.5) is Kip Winger. That is to say, after coming to prominence in the 80’s, riding the wave of “Hair Metal” and Def Leppard wannabes, Kip, and his eponymously -named band Winger were labelled Leppard-lite and without substance. Indeed, Kip suffered because with his film star looks and designer stubble, no-one seemed to want to take the band seriously. This must have been incredibly frustrating for the bass player/vocalist, who first found fame with Alice cooper’s band. But scratch beneath the surface and you can hear a songwriting craft far, far more refined than the Lepps. Killer hooks, classic tunes, and a throaty vocal delivery beg a second listen. By their third album, “Pull”  – Winger had transformed their sound into something darker, and it was undeniably quality rock.

Subsequently, Kip mined a rich vein of alternative styles as he released a brace of solo albums, “Songs from the Ocean Floor” and “This Conversation seems like a Dream” where even an idiot would be  hard-pressed to deny this man’s vocal and compositional talents. These two albums are sublime. The nuances he developed during this period would inform the Winger “comeback” album “IV” -making it every bit as worthy as its predecessors, guitarist Reb Beach’s mastery the icing on the cake.

With his latest solo offering, “From the Moon to the Sun” Kip once more uses guitarist Cenk Oroglu as the perfect foil, and the variety of styles on this album is breathtaking.

Deep within this embarrassment of riches, there is a track, “Ghosts” – featuring a string section and piano. It is written by Kip, bit he appears not to play on it. This indicates a man confident in his abilities, able to let go and allow the music to do the talking.

But this piece doesn’t talk. It sings.

Kev Moore





Unsung Heroes No.5 – Rick Springfield

11 11 2008
Rick Springfield - Misunderstood?

Rick Springfield - Misunderstood?

This guy, along with the next 2 artists I plan to feature here, suffered greatly from what I like to call “public misperception”. Finding the very worst sort of fame in the vacuous U.S. daytime soap opera “General Hospital”, one could almost hear the banging of the coffin nails drowning out the lame dialogue!

Springfield travelled a long hard road from Australia to the U.S. to achieve “overnight success”. He eventually hit Grammy-winning gold with the 1981 single “Jessie’s girl” which went to No.1 on the Billboard chart and 43 in the UK. Strangely, his other big single “The Human touch” did better in the UK than the US as Springfield never really enjoyed much chart success in the UK, despite having a sizeable following. The AOR style in which he was so proficient was not considered de rigeur in a country under the thrall of Ska and New romanticism in the early 80’s. It was simply a case of bad timing.

By 1983, Springfield was in danger of being perceived as one -hit wonder, but with the Release of “Living in Oz“, he began to develop a harder edge to his sound. This trend continued, culminating in the excellent 1985 release “Tao” where Springfield really came of age as a writer and performer. After a two year break, he re-emerged with the equally proficient “Rock of Life” where he further refined his now-trademark crystal clear cutting edge production style. Springfield’s voice is an oft-ignored gem, a great range, a wonderfully commercial rasp capable of delivering a great ballad or a storming rocker.

However, just as he was hitting his stride a serious ATV accident culminated in an abandoned tour, a serious shoulder injury that kept him from playing guitar for six months, and a massive 10 year layoff.

He returned with a vengeance to the studio to record the albums Sahara Snow (1997) and Karma (1999) The former a collaboration in band format with Tim Pierce and Bob Marlette, the latter taking over where “Rock of life” left off. the quality of performing and writing was still very much in evidence. The next few years saw him tour North America regularly, eventually returning to the studio in 2004 to record “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” – a darker but no less brilliant offering. A DVD, “Live in Rockford” was released showcasing the tour that supported the album. Since then he has released two further albums, The Day After Yesterday” (2005) – a collection of his favourite covers, and “Venus in Overdrive” (2008) – which charted on Billboard at No.28.

Ironically, in 2005 he returned to the soap he began in, and remains there at the time of writing. his musical life and his acting life intertwined when he performed a medley of his hits at a daytime TV awards show, and when he performed his song “What’s Victoria’s secret” on the soap as Eli Love.

Make no mistake, Rick Springfield is a serious musical talent. check him out.

Recommended:

Tao

Rock of Life

Karma

Sahara Snow

Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance

Kev Moore





Jess Roden – Beginnings – The Alan Bown Set

10 11 2008

There’s been a few mentions about the recent Alan Bown compilation featuring Jess recently, so I thought I’d do a small piece on it. Enjoy!

You probably have to be of a certain age to remember the English soul club scene of the 1960’s. but for those of us who discovered the mighty larynx of Jess Roden a few years down the line, as his solo career was flowering, the journey of discovery back in time is a rewarding one.

If you missed Jess’s debut on the London stages first time around, this well-packaged release on Sequel records should get the adrenaline flowing, and satisfy Roden completists.
Entitled The Alan Bown Set – Emergency 999, it gathers together the first 5 singles, complete with B sides, plus the rarity, “Jeu de Massacre” (the killing game) a bona-fide oddity written by Jaques Loussier and included on the soundtrack of the movie of the same name, which previewed at the Cannes film festival.

Boasting 21 tracks, this compliation also gives us rare demoes, and a live set, originally released on the London swings-live at the Marquee club LP – a peculiar release that saw The Alan Bown Set and Jimmy James get a side apiece!

Jess joined the Alan Bown Set in time for their second single, and remained with them throughout their name change to The Alan Bown! -which signalled their metamorphosis from soul band to psychedelic pop outfit. This set contains the song “Mr.Job” , which signalled their new direction, but had never been released until now, though it proved to be a useful debut for Midlands band Jigsaw to launch their career.
It was the rise of the discotheques that eventually put paid to the popularity of soul bands like The Alan Bown Set. Clubbers could now dance the night away in the company of Sam and Dave, and James Brown. For the Brits, it was a case of adapt or die, but the Summer of Love was never really going to be the answer to their prayers.

So if you want to immerse yourself in a steamy Marquee, or Flamingo and catch the buzz that was around in those early days, this CD is your time machine, come on in and listen to Jess’s youthful, vibrant soul, hinting at the catalogue of classic performances that were ahead of him.

Kev Moore

NB –

This post was previously published in The Musiquarium





Unsung Heroes – a New Beginning

7 11 2008

The Author, at your service...

The Author, at your service...

Many moons ago, on this very blog, I started a series called “Unsung heroes”. The response to the very first, Jess Roden, has been nothing short of overwhelming, and I have decided to dedicate the entire blog to the championing of underrated artists, with the bias on vocalists. Indeed, it’s renamed UNSUNG HEROES!

I hope to bring you more surprising choices from my own personal taste over the coming months, plus items related to the singers already discussed. Enjoy!

Kev Moore