‘Let’s Hear it for the King’ Solidifies New Dan Reed Network Sound

I discovered the music of Dan Reed Network as I was just entering my teen years. DRN was a club band back then. I stumbled onto them when they were playing a local carnival. I was instantly hooked.

The music was a melting pot of heavy metal and funk. Although Dan once said he always hated the comparison, the easiest way to describe the sound of the Network was Prince meets Bon Jovi.

Dan Reed himself had this raspy voice like Jon Bon Jovi with the sexual energy and animalistic delivery of Prince. He was intoxicating to listen to and to watch.

Not every kid wants to grow up to be a rockstar. Most kids wouldn’t feel comfortable running around in spandex and leather on a stage. But I would have loved to have been a rockstar. And if I had had the chance, I would have wanted to be one cut from the same cloth as Dan Reed.


On guitar was Brion James, who has always demonstrated an ability to cross genres and play with a highly technical precision. Almost all of my favorite guitarists are ones who make every note count, guys like Richie Sambora who may not play with the blazing speed of a Steve Vai but does ingenious things with the tools he has.

Slapping out the bass line was Melvin Brannon II. Most of the band is on the short side, so Melvin stands like a tree over them. But it’s his serious embrace of funk and soul that gave the undercurrent of the songs that something different.

Melvin’s impact on the sound of the Network is similar to how Steven Adler’s signature drum style made Guns N’ Roses early music so amazing and unmatched. Nobody plays the drums quite like Steven Adler, and nobody plays the bass quite like Melvin Brannon II.

Daniel Pred was the lone Caucasian in the rainbow-colored metal outfit, unique at a time when glam was predominantly a white boy’s game. Of course, there were exceptions, like Living Colour and DRN.

What Pred provides on drums are straight forward party beats that make you want to dance. He also is a master of working his analog drums to mix seamlessly with the keyboards that always make up such a crucial part of the Network’s signature sound.

Blake Sakamoto was the final piece that solidified DNR – propelling them from a club talent to one deserving national talent. Blake is probably one of the most gifted musicians when it comes to creating a wall of intricate layers of sound with synthesizers.

Together this clique of diverse talents created a sound that demanded it be heard on the world’s stage. And I watched it happen. I watched as they went from playing the locals club circuit to touring the world opening for bands like The Rolling Stones. You don’t get much bigger than that.


Dan Reed Network was bigger in Europe than they were in the U.S. Most music aficionados echo my praise of the remarkable potential of the Network. Many feel that the fault of their failure to catch on in the US fell on the label. As someone who has worked in the music industry on both the label and the artist side, I agree.

Dan Reed Network was a totally new rock n’ roll experience – the Bruno Mars of heavy metal ten years before Bruno Mars was Bruno Mars. The label didn’t know how to sell that.

Dan Reed Network put out three albums with Mercury Records: the self-titled Dan Reed Network, followed by Slam, and finally The Heat. After that, the band members went their separate ways.

Dan Reed played in the band Adrenaline Sky, releasing one album. It explored his evolution as a metal artist, removing the funk and keyboards from his old sound and focusing on heavy guitars and drums. Starting with The Heat, Reed had also become far more introspective and world-conscious with his lyrics.

After that, I lost track of Dan and the boys. I know they each worked on various entertainment projects.


In 2015 Dan and I connected to discuss adapting my book Unbecoming Travolta into a Broadway musical. We discussed my basic ideas for plot structure and song ideas. We outlined which songs would go in which scenes. But ultimately it wasn’t the right time to work on it.

In fact, the Network began work on a reunion album – releasing Fight Another Day in 2016. The one change in the lineup was that Blake Sakamoto wasn’t available and was replaced by Rob Daiker.

With Fight Another Day, DRN debuted a new evolution of their music. I have worked with some impressive musicians, legends in their genres. And I hold Sakamoto in the highest regard among hard rock keyboardists. He’s virtually irreplaceable.

Daiker is no slouch on the keyboards, but he doesn’t have the same vibe as Sakamoto. There is a difference to the intricacy of the way he layers the instruments. It’s like the difference between Elton John and Billy Joel on the piano or Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes on guitar – two talented musicians, each with their own style but you wouldn’t mistake them.

Having a totally different type of keyboardist, of course, changes the timbre of the band’s overall sound. The other big difference in the new DRN sound is Dan Reed himself.

Dan is no longer a 20-year-old focused on sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. He doesn’t scream in outbursts of animalistic desire as he once did. His melody lines no longer push his vocal range to its limit. Now his vocals are more of a rhythmic chant, reminiscent of David Bowie or Roger Waters.

Like the change in the band’s keyboard sound, Dan’s new vocals ushered in a different kind of sound then the band had in their youth. Fight Another Day was a good album overall.


Now the band has returned with the release of Let’s Hear it for the King. Vying to be the crown jewel in on German label Drakkar Entertainment GmbH’s roster, the new album features 13 strong, enjoyable songs.

The lead off single for the album is the title track Let’s Hear it for the King. The song starts simply but builds into an epic wall of textured sounds with a haunting, multi-harmony chorus towards the end that finds a way to get in your soul.

Supernova takes pieces from the song Mind and Body that the Network used to play on the club scene and reworks it with some new material. It’s one of the stronger songs on the new album.

Supernova is also an example of the use of spoken word interludes the band started to incorporate when they began to get more political with The Heat. This technique is used liberally on the entire album.

There are a number of really noteworthy songs on the album showing off an ability to tackle many topics. For example, Homegrown is an homage to the world’s greatest herb, intertwined with polite sexual inuendo.

Like Supernova, Where’s the Revolution takes pieces of an old DRN song and gives it a facelift that embraces techno and psychedelic rock. For those of us who remember the old tunes, it’s fun to hear them incorporated into something new and organic.

All in all, Let’s Hear it for the King is a strong showing for Dan Reed Network. They no longer blaze with fire and passion like they did in their youth, but they have captured a new sound. They have evolved.

Will old school Dan Reed Network fans be addicted to the new sound? I would say that for the most part they will, as long as they come in with open minds.

Further, Let’s Hear it for the King will definitely appeal to additional demographics. Fans of Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Electric Light Orchestra, and Lou Reed might find the new Dan Reed Network sound something that speaks to them.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta

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This year, I had the great pleasure of appearing in the hilarious Paul Rudnick comedy I Hate Hamlet for Elgin Theatre Company in the greater Chicago area. To our great honor, I Hate Hamlet has been nominated for seven prizes in the 2022 Broadway World Chicago Theatre Awards:

  • Best Direction of a Play – Regina Belt-Daniels
  • Best Ensemble Performance
  • Best Play
  • Best Performer in a Play – Rikki Lee Travolta
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – David Gasior
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Trace Gamache
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Travis Greuel

If you want to voice your support for the Elgin Theatre Company production of I Hate Hamlet, you can cast your vote at: https://www.broadwayworld.com/chicago/voteregion.cfm

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