Saturday, March 27, 2021

"Ritual" by Dan Reed Network

Song#:  3445
Date:  03/12/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  38
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This band from Portland, Oregon, was formed by guitarist Dan Reed and drummer Dan Pred. They developed their own style of music that included hard rock, metal, and funk, which garnered them a sizable local following. In '86, they recorded an indie EP titled Breathless. A song from the record, "Steal Me," would end up being a local hit. The attention they got from the EP along with their well-received live shows attracted the attention of Mercury Records. The band signed on with the label and proceeded to record a self-titled full-length debut album with producer Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi). This first single was issued out and it did fairly well cracking the Pop Top 40. Surprisingly, it did not reach the Rock chart. The song along with positive reviews helped the album chart at #95. With the tepid results, the band then switch management and secured Nile Rodgers for their second effort, Slam. The album was nearly DOA. With no singles reaching any US chart, it stopped at a low #160. Part of the problem seemed to be that the label didn't know how to market the eclectic band and that even spilled over to their third album, 1991's The Heat, which failed to chart. After tours and promos were finished up for the LP, the band decided it was time for a hiatus. That break lasted nearly 10 years. They would eventually get back into the studio and record albums in 2016 and 2018. "Ritual" would remain their only single to reach the US Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I remember that this album got a solid review in Rolling Stone (4-star, I think) and it sounded interesting. A promo copy was at the local used record shop and I bought it. This was the standout track and I was glad that it at least made the Pop Top 40. The balance of the album was interesting. My guess was that the band had a more organic rock sound and Bruce Fairbairn spruced it up with 80s touches and production to make it more commercially appealing. I think it worked and didn't necessarily mess up the band's songs. The tunes just got a good polishing and it worked quite well, especially for this single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the band never really found a big fan base in the US, the story was a bit different in the UK. Their debut album didn't get any attention, but then two songs from their second album made the lower reaches of the chart. That action helped the LP reach #66. Their profile was raised again around the time when they opened up for The Rolling Stones on their European tour. To keep momentum going, the band issued the one-off single "Stardate 1990," which they had recorded with Nile Rodgers, but didn't include on their second album. It would end up being their biggest hit in the UK getting to #39. That set the stage well for their third album, The Heat. Three singles would reach the chart, but even though they wouldn't crack the Top 40, the album would sell quite well and get to #15. It seemed like the European branch of Mercury Records had a handle on what to do with the band while the US branch failed. Although the band probably could have released another successful LP in Europe, the frustrations seemed to overwhelm them and they decided to break and go their own ways.


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