Despite the minor North American hit “Ritual,” from 1981, the Dan Reed Network has never experienced widespread success in its native land, enjoying some greater fortunes in the UK. The why and wherefore of fate’s fickle fingers remains a mystery for the ages (imagine trying to explain exactly why boogie rock unit Status Quo never enjoyed American mania despite rockin’ and rollin’ like Creedence Clearwater Revival). DRN opened for Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones and was signed by Derek Shulman, who connected Cinderella, Nickelback and others to big time contracts. The new collection Origins, which features re-recorded favorites from across the years, does little to clear up the matter. The hooks are there, the grooves are there and few others rock the funk ‘n’ roll front like DRN.

This is melodic hard rock with a flash or R&B that sets its sights on love, positivity and all things that filled arenas in the Reagan/Bush era. That’s not a slam and it’s not to say that these tunes don’t sound positively timeless in the current musical climate. In fact, in some ways DRN couldn’t be more emblematic of our times: A need for embracing matters of the heart rather than becoming worn down with the ennui of the zeitgeist, a need for something that makes us want to shake our collective asses and the wherewithal to pull it off. If only Reed had had the good sense to “go country” and market these songs to the masses who embrace Florida Georgia Line.

To be fair, Reed doesn’t seem like the kind of person to fret over his fortunes. His tenacity across more than 30 years reveals an artistic soul that can’t be bothered with trifles. So this isn’t as much a greatest hits as a reaffirmation of his considerable talents. He sings not like a veteran but like a newcomer filled with fire and passion and the hope that greater things are on the horizon.

“Fade To Light” imagines a grunge-ified King’s X while “Ritual” sounds reborn, Reed and band locking in and playing it like it’s the first time they’re running it down. “Right in Front of Me” is an AOR hit that probably hasn’t lit up dial the way it should. Its lyrical content of love lost and pined for adds to DRN’s universality as do numbers such as “Shameless” –anyone looking for the link between funk rock and symphonic black metal? As for a country connection, “Let it Go” could pass for Nashville. “One Last Time” and “Rainbow Child” are quintessential deep cuts, there for fans to appreciate but probably offering little for newcomers.

If the point of Origins is to celebrate the musical fortunes Reed and his cohorts have experienced over the years, it more than does its job, and one is hard-pressed to think of a better introduction to his music. And if it encourages listeners to dig deep into Reed’s catalog, then it has more than done its job.

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