Dan Reed / Dan Reed Network

Slam

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    8
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On their second album, Dan Reed and his Network came the closest they'd get to a perfect synthesis of funk and metallic AOR. With Nile Rodgers replacing Bruce Fairbairn (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi) in the producer's chair, the mix retained its groove even as the guitars became more prominent, and tracks like "Rainbow Child" carried a Princely dancefloor presence the band hadn't managed since "Breathless" off their first EP of the same title. But Rodgers also didn't neglect the hooks that Fairbairn crammed into nearly every track on the band's eponymous major-label debut, and the album stays sonically interesting, even when Reed's well-meaning but naïve politics (see the title track) threaten to bog things down. And for the finale, "Seven Sisters Road," the group even strips all the studio polish away for an unpretentious and catchy bit of old-fashioned boogie. It's not a flawless outing -- a couple of by-the-numbers riff rockers and the overlong ballad "Stronger Than Steel" see to that -- but it's probably the Network's best, and certainly deserved more attention than it got.

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