It was almost three decades ago when Night Ranger released their debut record Dawn Patrol, and like every band with a career spanning over 30 years, they’ve had their hits, their flops, their highs and their lows.
The song that really defines Night Ranger would probably have to be the power ballad “Sister Christian” from their second album Midnight Madness(1983). From that point on, it was power ballads that everyone expected from them. The 80s definitely was the time for power ballads, but there were some bands that just had that talent to do it better than their contemporaries; Night Ranger was one of them.
Power ballads weren’t their only talent though. They thrived in the times of synthesised hard rock and continued to do so – if we just forget their attempt at grunge in 2008 with Hole in the Sun. Yes, they had their ups and downs, and their latest release Somewhere in California sees Night Ranger coming back from a low.
Somewhere in California could quite possibly be one of the band’s best efforts, with three of the original members – Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis – with Joel Hoekstra teaming with Gillis on lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals and Eric Levy joining them on keys. The whole album plays as a throwback to the era of metal that Night Ranger was born in, while also maintaining a modern sound without going too far. The opener “Growin’ Up in California” is a melodic, summer time rock song, keeping the mood easy and laidback. From there the anthemic arena rock songs come into play – “Follow Your Heart” has a strong feel that one would remember from their past releases. Before long, the token power ballad rears its head; “Time of our Lives” is proof that after 30 years Night Ranger hasn’t lost their gift for them.
There is a lot of strength on this record. It’s hard to find fault with any part of it. The vocal harmonies of Keagy and Blades are as strong as when they first began. Newcomer Hoekstra and Gillis work great together, letting loose with some powerful riffs and melodies on tracks like “Lay it on Me”, “Live for Today” and “No Time to Lose Ya”.
Overall Somewhere in California is a solid effort through and through, mixing power ballads with hard rockers and proving Night Ranger aren’t ready to say goodbye by a long shot.
1. Growin’ Up in California
2. Lay it on Me
3. Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)
4.Follow Your Heart
5. Time of Our Lives
6. No Time to Lose Ya
7. Live for Today
8. It’s Not Over
9. End of the Day
10. Rock n Roll Tonite