King Of Dreams
King of Dreams"
August 20, 1999
Reed Has a Feel for Heartland
DENNIS ROGER REED
"Little King of Dreams"
Plastic Meltdown Records
By MIKE BOEHM
"Patience, patience, good things still come to those who wait"
one of many lilting refrains on this fine collection of acoustic
folk-rock and country music.
One hopes that's true for Dennis Roger Reed, the San Clemente
singer-songwriter who has played for more than a decade on his own and
with a variety of local folk, rock and bluegrass bands.
This CD probably won't establish Reed as a big performing star, or
even as a touring cult favorite. His pleasant-but-slight voice lacks the
for that, although it's more than enough to do expressive justice to his
strong lyrics and melodies.
But if he can get "Little King of Dreams" into the right hands,
deservedly could join the list of songwriters who are sought by
alive country singers and smart folkies looking for good material.
"Little King of Dreams," Reed's first CD, gathers some of his
songs from over the years, and brings together a small gang of his
playing partners to back him. Everything gets lovely treatment with
mandolins, fiddles, Dobros, banjos, and expertly played lead acoustic
guitars (Reed plays rhythm guitar and bass).
Several tracks marshal a more rock-oriented lineup with drums, piano
and organ--all played by one very adept musician, Tim Horrigan, who
plays with Reed in Blue Mama, a roots-music band. The patience of fans
who could see Reed's worth in live shows, and on two previous
cassette-only releases, is well-rewarded here.
The album opens in a breezy, pleasant mood with "Panama Lane"
the above-quoted "Patience." They're toe-tappers, but one begins
wonder what decade Reed is living in: These are songs about folks who
forsake the fast lane for love, living happily amid the not-so-genteel
poverty of forgotten towns in the backwoods or on the dusty plains.
"Broken down trucks in most of the yards / The grass give up, had to
work too hard," is Reed's deft, pithy description of the flatlands
calls Panama Lane. Is Reed pulling a Norman Rockwell on us with these
As it turns out, he is setting up what amounts to a well-designed,
loosely linked concept album in which themes of love and small-town living
The two closing songs, "Gray Prairie Dawn" and "Rain on the
are contrasting bookends to the chirpy optimism of "Panama Lane"
"Patience." Love has eroded, the narrators face being left alone
Nowheresville towns, and their prospects look as bleak as those of
depopulated, rural America in general.
Fine songs are strewn along this descending emotional arc. "Stranger
My Hometown," written with former bandmate Andy Rau (who plays
banjo on several tracks), is a poignant, gracefully lamenting song about a
man who wonders whether he will be welcome if he returns to declare his
love for the woman he left behind, and whether he has any business
revisiting a past full of regrets. In the end, he resolves to try, hopeful
an old chapter can be new again.
"Drinkin' Rye Whisky," a lively country-swing number whose
protagonist tries to guzzle away his sorrows in a bar, and the Loggins
Messina-like "She's Already Gone Away" provide buoyancy and
as the album gives way mainly to ballads or wistful anthems.
Most of Reed's stuff harks back to the groundbreaking figures of
countrified, folkified rock, with echoes of Roger McGuinn, Gram Parsons
and Chris Hillman at many a turn.
The album's title track, a guitar instrumental played beautifully by
Reed's brother, Don, calls to mind the dark, doomed gravity of Stephen
While Reed lacks the vocal stature of his influences, he doesn't have to
make any excuses for his singing. He is gently in command
throughout--except for "Our Last Good Kiss," a fine anthem about
adulterous affair, in which the country-rock arrangement overpowers his
He has simple stories to tell about the raw feelings of people who hold
tightly to tenuous strands of love, or who see the need to let go but can
barely face it.
His style keeps alive vestiges of a rural past that nearly all of us have
let go because, as much as we romanticize it, we prefer a more exciting,
bountiful and convenient life.
After his opening feint toward nostalgia, Reed proves too clear-sighted
to pretend that a loving, harmonious small-town Eden can be anything but
a vanished dream.
"The album (Little King of Dreams) really is great. I was
impressed by the songs and your singing is very strong. The
arrangements are great and the playing is super as well. It was
interesting to hear your brother and the two of you seemed to communicate
musically in an interesting way."
Noted singer/songwriter Steve Gillette
December 29, 1999, Wednesday, Orange County Edition
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 11; Calendar Desk
HEADLINE: ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR;
HEARING MORE FROM O.C. IN '99;
SUGAR RAY, LIT, KORN, OFFSPRING OR NO DOUBT HAD A BIG PRESENCE, BUT YOU
WON'T FIND THEM ALL ON MIKE BOEHM'S YEAR'S-BEST LIST.
BYLINE: MIKE BOEHM, TIMES STAFF WRITER
If melodic rock makes a marketplace comeback in the year 2000 and beyond,
the heads of certain sons of Orange County should perhaps be outfitted for
The Offspring, Sugar Ray and Lit played the George Washington
at Valley Forge role, providing some notable successes that should have
given heart to a beleaguered rock 'n' roll army as it watched dancy teen
idols, country singers, pop-R&B crooners, rappers and rap-rock hybrids
occupy most of the high ground on the sales charts.
Thriving outside the pop-rock encampment was Korn, the
veteran Orange County rage-rock band whose funk-and-metal alloy
established the style that worked so well for such '99 rap-rock
breakthroughs as Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock.
The Offspring, Sugar Ray, Korn and Lit scored platinum or
multiple-platinum albums in 1999; collectively they sold 8 1/2 million
albums in the United States during the year, according to the SoundScan
monitoring service. All told, Orange County's 10 top-selling rock bands of
the 1990s sold more than 37 million albums in the U.S.
The Offspring's album "Americana," released in
November 1998, was the top-ranked rock album of 1999--its 3.3 million
sales during the year placing it No. 7 on the Billboard year-end chart
behind Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Shania Twain, 'N Sync, Ricky
Martin and Garth Brooks.
Sugar Ray's winsome pop-rock ballads "Every
Morning" and "Someday" were No. 3 and No. 19, respectively,
on the Billboard chart of the songs most played on radio.
On modern-rock radio, sounds from O.C. were inescapable:
Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" was the format's most-played song,
leading a parade of (Time Bomb). Social Distortion's brawny brayer
took a year off from that band's punk-fueled sonic maelstrom to explore
his roots in country music and blues and delve a bit into his tender side.
It all came together splendidly on this diverse, typically tuneful album.
5. Paleface Jack, "Out of Nowhere" (Paleface Jack).
Rock 'n' roll played straight and smart, without hyphenation. Not
modern-rock, not roots-rock; just good rock played with spark and
6. Dennis Roger Reed, "Little King of Dreams"
(Plastic Meltdown). One of O.C.'s best song-crafters came up with this
warm, winsome, quietly acoustic collection of Gram Parsons-like
countrified folk songs about small-town romance. Without being explicitly
social in his themes, Reed sings a cohesive elegy for the fading of rural
America and a vanishing way of life.
7. Patty Booker, "I Don't Need All That . . ." (PMS
Records). A sweet and twangy treat from a singer steeped in country
traditionalism and convincing in roles both sassy and vulnerable.
8. Orange County Supertones, "Chase the Sun" (BEC).
O.C.'s top Christian rock band continued its rewarding spiritual journey
with a collection of probing songs about faith and its challenges and
pitfalls. Warmly gritty singing from
Matt Morginsky and sharp musicianship that keeps a familiar ska-punk
approach sounding fresh make this band eminently believable, even for rock
fans who could never share its beliefs.
9. Tub, "Coffee Tea Soda Pop Pee" (Centipede
Records). Young men with guitars, cranking it up and venting their
frustrations and anxieties to catchy tunes. Good garage rock never goes
out of style.
10. Relish, "Relish" (Volcom/Amerige). Young women
with guitars, cranking it up and venting their frustrations and anxieties
to catchy tunes. Good garage rock never goes out of style--although this
trio also offers an appealing arty streak and impressive vocal harmonies.
11. Lit, "A Place in the Sun" (RCA). Lit carved a
place on modern-rock radio with an album that observed the catchy
conventions of the pre-rage-rock KROQ sound. A style that sounds formulaic
and tired in many hands came to life with Lit's catchy, zestful and
affirmative takes on post-adolescent coming-of-age difficulties.
12. Barrelhouse, "13 Sonic Splendors"
(Barrelhouse). Another good, strong swig of blues and Southern soul from
an unjustly obscure and unsigned band that mines rich, traditional sources
for its raw materials.
13. Sugar Ray, "14:59" (Lava/Atlantic). O.C.'s most
boorish, lamebrained band transformed itself from a rap-metal monstrosity
into a savvy crafter of infectious, endearing, good-hearted pop-rock
songs. Moral: Never write off anybody who's still breathing.
1990s Orange County Top 10 Albums
1. Mark Davis, "You Came Screaming," Cutlet (1995)
2. Jann Browne, "Count Me In," Red Moon (1994)
3. Chris Gaffney, "Mi Vida Loca," Hightone (1992)
4. Liquor Giants, "Liquor Giants," Matador (1996)
5. Social Distortion, "White Light White Heat White
Trash," 550 Music/Epic (1996)
6. Dramarama, "Hi-Fi Sci-Fi," Chameleon/Elektra
7. Joyride, "Another Month of Mondays," Doctor
8. One Hit Wonder, "Cluster----astuff," Lethal
9. Sublime, "Sublime," Gasoline Alley/MCA (1996)
10. Michael Ubaldini, "Acoustic Rumble," no label
O.C. Artists of the Decade
(in alphabetical order)
* Jann Browne
* Ward Dotson (Pontiac Brothers/Liquor Giants)
* Chris Gaffney
* Jack Grisham (Tender Fury, the Joykiller, T.S.O.L.)
* John Melkerson (Eggplant/Eli Riddle/Lunar Rover)
* Mike Ness (Social Distortion)
* The Offspring
Copyright 1999 Times Mirror Company
Los Angeles Times
Dennis Roger Reed is one of Orange County's unheralded treasures. In his
latest release, 1999's "Little King of Dreams" (Plastic Meltdown
he dissects romantic entanglements and laments the loss of simpler times.
The splendid 15-song collection, featuring a stellar supporting cast of
local players, is rich in American music, roaming freely among country,
folk, bluegrass, swing, rock and the blues.
JOHN ROOS, L.A. Times, February 17, 2001
Songwriter Dennis Roger Reed draws upon his years growing up in rural
Southern California as the inspiration for most of his writing. He
little short stories about the difficulties of earning a living and
a relationship going in small farming and desert towns. Most of his
characters aren't leading happy lives; work is hard, and love just keeps
finding a way to slip just out of reach. But they survive despite their
problems and hope tomorrow will be better. Reed gives most of his songs a
contemporary bluegrass backing (banjo, Dobro, fiddle, and mandolin) but
combines that with standard bass and drums, as well. An honest and
refreshing collection of songs about real people.
JIM LEE, Dirty Linen, February/March 2001
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