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Dakota - 2000 Little Victories

ARTIST: Dakota
ALBUM: Little Victories
LABEL: DAK Records
YEAR: 2000


LINEUP: Jerry Hludzik - vocals, bass * Jon Lorance - guitars, vocals * Rick Manwiller - keyboards, vocals * Eli Hludzik - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Don't Count Me Out * 02 Hearts On Fire * 03 Brother To Brother * 04 I.O.U * 05 The Dep * 06 Praalude (To Victory) * 07 Little Victories * 08 Let Go * 09 Go Easy (On My Heart) * 10 Rescue Me * 11 Wish * 12 Next In Line * 13 Friday On My Mind * 14 Workin' Hot


One of the first cabs off the rank for the new millennium are AOR favourites Dakota. We've certainly come a long way with this band, early seventies to be exact (well done Jerry!), and though the scarcity of album releases pretty much rival the likes of Boston and Def Leppard (what is it now.. five studio albums in twenty years), the quality is undoubtedly one of their compelling features. We also have to remember that the band went into a hiatus between 1984 and 1996, a good twelve years between drinks, so the band have definitely been busy since 1996 with the two Escape Music releases as well as this one, and of course the other latest Dakota release currently out called 'Three Live Times Ago'. For those familiar with their West Coast/AOR type sound, it's been given a huge modern revamp with an emphasis on stronger guitar lines, punchy arrangements and multiple vocal harmonies not unlike the Little River Band. In saying that though, there is still a lot to compare with their timeless eighties material as well. I believe the material on 'Little Victories' is a hell of lot closer to the stuff they did on 'Runaway' as opposed to 'Mr Lucky' for instance. The songs are recognisably Dakota and have memorable choruses throughout. A good selling point if you ask me.

The Songs
Fourteen tracks all up, represents good value for money, and though the songs have a similar musical theme throughout there is enough of a difference to make each one unique, and pretty soon you'll be humming some of those choruses with regularity. I was. Highlights (and there are many) include the 'Runaway' like AOR of 'Hearts On Fire' and 'Brother To Brother', the latter is a Bill Champlin co-write. There's some shredding guitar happening on 'The Deep', while the tracks 'Wish' and 'Let Go' are similar to material off Nelson's 'After The Rain' album. One of my favourite tracks is 'Go Easy (On My Heart)' which is a slower effort and is very easy on the ear. A real throwback is 'Next In Line' which bounces along superbly. I honestly thought I was listening to the first Balance album when I heard this one! And while 'Workin' Hot' is a 6.20 minute workout, I'm not sure why we took that long to get to the end as the structure didn't seem to change much, probably the extended guitar solos at the end. The odd one out is the Vanda and Young dinosaur 'Friday On My Mind' covered elsewhere in recent times, however I'll forgive them their indulgences. Remember five albums in twenty years, so lap it up George!

In Summary
We hope that Dakota move on from here and start pulling in some action and prospects for this year. With two albums currently on the market, and a strong US distribution deal through Thoughtscape Sounds, the band are ideally placed for a run on the spring and summer months. I for one am happy to have Dakota back at the forefront of a resurgent melodic rock scene, as there are some great songs on 'Little Victories' which are ideal for radio, as well as the harder efforts which will keep the air guitar bashers happy.

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#1 | AOR Lee on March 07 2013 05:18:21
Of the Dakota catalogue I had been overlooking this one for a long time. Dusted it off yesterday to see what would happen, and no surprise that quality AOR came pouring out of the speakers. Then again, Dakota have never released anything truly sub-standard have they ? music

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