Great Rock Albums of 1983: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness
An huge argument raged throughout the mid 1980s and for some, it still does today. It is even briefly debated in “Rock and Roll Children.” Was Night Ranger heavy metal? Pure metalheads gave a resounding no because of the band’s use of keyboards and softer, more commercial rock, especially in regards to the album following this one. However, this didn’t stop the rest of the world from claiming they were. My opinion in this matter can be found in the title of this post. You probably noticed that I didn’t call Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness” album a great metal album.
Listening to the second album from Night Ranger, it is quite easy to see why many of the less knowing would call it a metal album. Most of the first five songs do rock, although I still wouldn’t call them metal. Even the ballad, “Sister Christian” ranks up there as a very good power ballad. It did influence some metal bands who wanted at least one on their album to write their ballads in this style.
My first experience of the album came in the form of “You Could Still Rock in America.” Like the classic, “Don’t Tell Me You Love,” I thought this too was a Rick Springfield song at first. Another example of irony in my life, I first heard it after spending four weeks in London. My first musical experience there wasn’t great. The people I was staying with were all top 40 dance junkies and they tried to insist that there was no place in London to find the hard rock I loved so much. After lamenting the first two weeks, I did discover a really cool rock pub in Croydon in South London and things got better after that. Then I went to my first Donington Festival so my I ended up enjoying my London stay. When I returned, I heard this song playing on the radio and thought, “Damn right, you can still rock in America.” Saying that, I was glad that earlier reports about music in the UK were proved totally wrong.
Apart from “Sister Christian,” the only really commercial oriented tracks are “When You Close Your Eyes,” another hit single for the band and “Passion Play.” The latter is a bit harder than the former but doesn’t rock like the rest of the album. Tracks that really do rock, besides the opener, are “Touch of Madness” and “Chippin’ Away.” “Rumours in the Air” is pretty cool as well. But what makes this album rock, even the songs that don’t rock as much is the guitar duo of Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson. One or the other or both in some cases, lay down some serious guitar heat in every song, except the acoustic closer. When people talk of guitar duos, the ones mentioned are Tipton/Downing, Smith/Murray or Gers/Murray (same band), Ojeda/French and the original guitar duo, Walsh/Felder. After hearing this album again after so many years, Watson/Gillis needs to be included among the others.
- You Can Still Rock in America
- Rumours in the Air
- Why Does Love Have to Change
- Sister Christian
- Touch of Madness
- Passion Play
- When You Close Your Eyes
- Chippin’ Away
- Let Him Run
Jack Blades- bass, lead vocals
Jeff Watson- guitars, keyboards
Brad Gillis- guitars
Alan ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald- keyboards
Kelly Keagy- drums, lead vocals
True metalheads like me do not consider Night Ranger heavy metal. However, they did know how to rock as the album “Midnight Madness” clearly shows. In 1983, they did rock America.
Next post: Marillion- Script For a Jester’s Tear
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This entry was posted on May 4, 2016 at 7:26 pm and is filed under 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags Brad Gillis, Classic Rock, Guitarists, hard rock, Heavy Metal, Heavy Rock, Jeff Watson, Midnight Madness, Night Ranger, power ballads, Rock And Roll Children, The 1980s. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.