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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Network

Network / Nightwork

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps this is the first time you heard of Network. The band should have been huge, but something went wrong. This CD is the reissue of two albums they released in the late 1970’s and they were as suited for radio of the day as any band. In fact, if there’s a problem here it’s that the music is a bit too formulaic and generic. Still, you just can’t argue with catchy pop rock and these guys should appeal to fans of classic rock along the lines of Styx, Pablo Cruise and Steely Dan.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Network
You Lied

This energetic rocker has “1970’s” written all over it. There are hints of disco here and this feels a little like Pablo Cruise to me.

So Far Gone
Somehow the vocals here remind me a bit of Alice Cooper at times – but his more mainstream vocal performances. The song is quite funky and very much in keeping with a 1970’s sound. It’s got a great groove and catchy chorus.


Save Me, Save Me
An energetic piece this is even more like Pablo Cruise than the opener was. I can also hear some Elton John and others on the track. It’s still got a bit of that disco texture. 
Holly
There’s a definite R&B groove on this smooth tune. It’s basically a powered up love ballad. It’s got some tasty guitar work and all around is another tasty slab of 1970’s pop rock. 
Without You
We still hear a funk vibe on this, but the overall effect is much more pure rock. In fact, there’s enough crunch on the guitar that if it were in a different arrangement it would seem like heavy metal. There’s a cool break down that has some moments that are rather progressive rock like. This is one of my favorites on the set – partly because it represents a piece of variety and partly because it’s just a great tune.
Go Find Another Lover
Here’s another rocker. At times the vocals on this remind me of Grand Funk and some of the arrangement makes me think of Head East. There’s some scorching guitar work here and this is another highlight of the set. 
Don't Leave Me Alone Tonight
This opens with a bit of talk box in fine fashion. Musically I hear Steely Dan, Toto and Hall and Oates on this catchy number. 
Fly Away
A funky jam this one reminds me a bit of Lake, but I can also hear The Doobie Brothers on the piece. It gets a lot more involved, and almost progressive rock like, towards the close. 
Backseat Driver
This is quite a dynamic and complex piece. It’s got a lot of the same elements that have been heard throughout, but it jams in a freeform rather jazzy fashion a lot of the time and there’s some complicated rhythm elements. We also get some nearly progressive rock guitar riffing at points. 
Nightwork
We're Only Into Rock And Roll
Despite the title this starts with an almost jazz styled arrangement. As the track grows it becomes quite a hard rock piece and yet there are hints of sounds like ELO. The guitar solo here is a scorcher. I like this better than anything from the first disc.
Halfway To Paradise
Another rocker, there’s a bit of a theatric flair – and also a 1950’s doo-wop feeling – to this piece. It’s good, but not really my kind of thing. Still, later parts of the tune make me think of Grand Funk a bit. 
I Already Played It
This starts with piano and as it grows I’d have to say that I’d consider it to be progressive rock. There’s a jazzy edge to a lot of it, but really the killer instrumental work and fairly complex arrangement would definitely get me to put into prog. We even get a dramatic neo-classical keyboard solo. This is one of the highlights of the set.
Beautiful Lady
In a lot of ways this fiery rocker reminds me of early Styx. It’s another highlight of the set. 
Star Gazer
Another hard rocker, this is quite tasty. I’m again reminded a bit of Styx
Don't Do Nothing Crazy
This is closer to the sounds we heard on the first album’s material – but there’s more of a rock edge. I hear both Jefferson Starship and Toto on this. 
Sundown
Keys start off here and they drop it to a guitar based balladic motif. From there this becomes a rocker with ballad interludes. This is another that makes me think a bit of Styx
So So Good
This is far closer to the sounds we heard on what was originally the band’s self-titled album. It’s good, but not exceptional.
Better Man Than Me
Here’s a lot more funky piece of music. This is another that makes me think of Pablo Cruise. It seems like it fit better with the first set, too.  
 
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