Night Ranger-Somewhere in California
"Sister Christian" came out in 1984. Let that sink in for a second. I realized this while doing the normal leg work involved with album reviews. Who knows how many drunks have sang this song since it first hit the radio. If your like me you'll be honest and own up to having song along when this came on the radio. This is especially true if you've already had a few too many and some wanker puts this on the jukebox in the bar. Who knew that Night Ranger were still cruising along after all these years? So, the promo came with this juicy plug "Night Ranger truly epitomizes the sound of the 80’s while at the same time transcending it. Since their reunion in 1996, they have brought their guitar-crunching, melodic brand of Hard Rock into the 21st century with unparalleled talent, energy and creativity." With that I hit play and "Growin' Up In California" came tumbling in. One tends to forget that in the eighties along with those crunching guitars bands tended to employ the use of layers of synthesizers. Jack Blades (bass guitar, lead & backing vocals) has wrote songs for some pretty big names. His credits include Aerosmith, Cher, Alice Cooper and Ozzy so you know he can write. It begs the question of why use cheesy synthesizers? Night Ranger I will argue were at their best when they waved the hard rock flag for everyone to see. Sure they have always used keyboards to make a point but synthesizers should have gone on permanent vacation in the eighties. "Lay It On Me" offers hope though. Solid hard rock it isn't going to erase the fact that Night Ranger are still Night Ranger but at least it has a backbone. "Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)" is softer edge melodic rock. "Follow Your Heart" though pushes itself to rock out. Reminds me somewhat of Damn Yankees. "Time Of Our Lives" could have very easily been written by Journey or Foreigner. This one would have made the girls swoon back in the day. If this was 1989 or so this would have been a huge summer hit. "No Time To Lose Ya" moves things back into rock territory and had me thinking about Bob Seger. Night Ranger's influence on pop culture can't be ignored. With the band being in the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” and hit video game series "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" it is obvious that they have a firm grasp on rock and roll legacy. At this point though who knows if anyone will give them a chance since they are Night Ranger. The band has this reputation as being fluff to those on the outside. From the sounds of it no one outside of Japan has given them a chance since they dropped the hard rock in favor of a more keyboard-driven sound. Somewhere in California does sport some good rock moments like "Rock n' Roll Tonite". It's actually a well balanced album mixing ballads with rockers and is crafted the way bands used to do albums. It honestly feels like a classic rock album you could listen to on LP. That is when bands worked at the true art of LP albums. But with that said chances are only Night Ranger fans will be excited about this. For the record "Coming of Age" will be a bonus track for Amazon (digital only) and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" (AC/DC cover) will be bonus track for ITunes (digital only).