Take a trip down Sentimental St. w. Night Ranger
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 06/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the hard rock bands of the 80s, Night Ranger did an awesome job without actually being classified as metal. Some of their songs were tinged with the synths that typified 80's music, and along with contemporaries like Loverboy, their biggest hits were power ballads. Yet they did have quite a hard-edge without them going into metal. Case in point was "(You Can Still) Rock In America," their hardest rocking hit with a pulsing and snarling guitar a la Riggs that could've been on the Heavy Metal soundtrack, yet only made it to #51 in 1984. Barely scraping the Top 40 is another hard-edged number, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" from Dawn Patrol, as is "Eddie's Comin' Out Tonight" from the same album.
"Sing Me Away" from Dawn Patrol (1982) alternated between hard rock guitar in the verses and a chorus tempered by synths. A pleasant enough number that somehow stalled at #54. However, their biggest hit was the power ballad "Sister Christian" of a teenage girl growing up and feeling the pangs of adolescence, from their second album Midnight Madness, which starts out with a gentle piano before the drums transition into the power guitars. This was their second Top 40 hit and only Top 5. "When You Close Your Eyes," also from MM, was more upbeat rock, though with a more poppified rock beat, kind of like Rick Springfield. This reached #14. The rocker "Rumours In The Air," also from MM, is a Loverboy-type number.
However, they had more power ballads, particularly on 7 Wishes, their second biggest album. It stood to reason, considering the success of "Sister Christian." I saw videos from 7 Wishes during my MTV years, so this is where I came in. "Sentimental Street," with its majestic synths opening and steady mid-paced beat, was their second biggest hit, charting at #8. The #19 song "Four In The Morning (I Can't Take It Anymore)" was quicker-paced, with the standard pop backbeat coupled with their usual sound, putting them in the same company as hard-rock tempered by pop groups like Loverboy, Heart, and Journey. And the wistful Auld Lang Syne-type rock ballad "Goodbye" is a magical combination of synths and guitars. Brad Gillis' guitar works its magic at the finale, accompanied by the synths. It seemed appropriate, as it turned out to be their last Top 40 hit, peaking at #17.
The only representative from Big Life, their 1987 album, is "The Secret Of My Success," the title track for the Michael J. Fox movie of the same name. With an uptempo Jan Hammer keyboard backbeat and a more pop/rock sound, it isn't as hard as their earlier oeuvre, but again, with repeated airplay on MTV, I got accustomed to this song, where others might've cringed. It peaked at #64, far below their usual chartings. "Restless Kind" from Man In Motion (1988), reverted to the usual power ballad genre, but by that time, two groups of metal had eclipsed Night Ranger, who had never ventured beyond hard rock, veterans like Def Leppard who exploded with Hysteria and newcomers like Skid Row and Guns N Roses. Needless to say, the song failed to even chart.
Following Night Ranger's breakup, bassist and lead vocalist Jack Blades joined Damn Yankees, where he scored a hit higher than "Sister Christian," namely "High Enough" which hit #3. Brad Gillis, who had been Ozzy's guitarist for the live Speak of the Devil album, tried his hand at a solo career before resurrecting Night Ranger with drummer and lead vocalist Kelly Keaggy.
Despite the absence of "Interstate Love Affair" from the movie Teachers, this collection captures the hard rockers at their best, and is ideal for those of us 80's people wanting a stroll down a Sentimental Street.
"And all this could be such a dream so it seems/I was never much good at goodbye" From Goodbye.
More like 4-and-a-half-stars...
Jeff Edwards | Twin Falls, Idaho | 01/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here is the question: What exactly IS Night Ranger? Are they Glam-Rockers? Heavy Metal? Pop/Rock? No matter what YOU think they are, just remember to put the word, 'successful' in front of whatever definition you give them, because selling millions of albums MEANS something in the recording business. The debate will rage for a long time about Night Ranger being 'too pop' but I think if you judged these guys based upon musical talent and the sheer likability of their tunes ALONE, folks would forget entirely the silly debate and enjoy what these guys did best. Who could hear 'You Can Still Rock In America' or 'Sing Me Away' and doubt their talent as rock & rollers? Or take a listen to 'Sister Christian' (I am STILL curious as to what Motorin' means from the lyrics...) or 'Sentimental Street' and assume that power ballad's were beyond their ability...no Night Ranger went beyond the typical definition of what bands usually were in the 80's. These are of course the big radio songs that made Night Ranger popular, however several other stand-out songs propel this greatest hits package to above-average status...like: 'Rumour's In The Air' (one of my personal fav's) and although the movie was huge, the title track from 'The Secret of My Success' never made it nearly as big, but should have. These guys are also great performers on stage. If you ever saw one of their concerts, you'd know what I mean. I must confess that I was one of the naysayers about this group until my boss at the radio station assigned me to attend the Night Ranger Concert and officiate all of our backstage pass winners instead of going to the Van Halen concert that I REALLY wanted to go to...well I was rather upset and feeling bitter against my boss AND the band...but it didn't take long for these boys to win me over (and I consider myself pretty picky). Not only were they VERY nice, but they could actually perform really WELL. VERY impressive, and I've seen a LOT of concerts, too. Are they as good as Pink Floyd? Not by a long shot...but they were better than the night I saw Van Halen and David Lee Roth was drunk off his hind-quarters. All I'm saying is if you are a Night Ranger fan, you are gonna love this CD, if you aren't, then pass it by and grab something else...I for one am happy to add this one to my personal collection.-DJ Jazzy Jeff"
You can still rock in America, baby!
Brian A. Schar | Menlo Park, CA United States | 03/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is a guilty pleasure, but what a pleasure! The one word that sums up this greatest hits compilation is "fun." If you were a fan of Night Ranger during its heyday, this CD will put a smile on your face. This may not be the greatest rock ever created, but it's energetic, well-done and...fun. Sure, it's a little cheesy in places ("Secret of My Success", for instance), but that just bumps up the fun meter another notch. If you grew up in the midwest, you will likely enjoy it even more, because you heard half these songs on the radio all the time in the 80s. The secret of your success in selecting music is buying this disc!"