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.

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

Track Listing:

  1. You Can Still Rock in America
  2. Rumours in the Air
  3. Why Does Love Have to Change
  4. Sister Christian
  5. Touch of Madness
  6. Passion Play
  7. When You Close Your Eyes
  8. Chippin’ Away
  9. Let  Him Run
Night Ranger

Night Ranger

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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14 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1983: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness”

  1. I don’t know the album but I just pure LOVE Sister Christian. It’s not metal, but definitely rock.


  2. I agree with 1537. I remember listening to the radio by the pool summer of ’83, and hearing it in full for the first time. (I remember the year because we were going to see Return of the Jedi that weekend.) Before that, all I had heard was my friends singing it. And they got the words wrong. “Motorhead! What’s your price for flight?”


    • LOL, I think a lot of people got those lyrics confused back in the day. Thanks for sharing the memories of the song. I can’t remember what song I heard when I went to see “Return of the Jedi.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t know why it’s so clear. One other memory from the same weekend. Me, my sister, and my cousin all got new Luke Skywalker figures. My cousin opened his while we were still in the mall, and before we had even left the mall, he lost Luke’s gun. My cousin was so reckless with his toys!!


      • I was like your cousin in my childhood but never collected any figures. I thought I was too old by then. Yes, it’s hard to fathom why people get those lyrics confused but they do.


  3. I’ll third what 1537 said. Not metal but nice album to listen to. Great post


  4. A classic album from a classic band. Definitely not metal, melodic hard rock. I remember buying this on vinyl when it first came out and being pleasantly surprised it was not a hefty import price like the previous bands albums were here in the UK.

    The dual guitars of Watson and Gillis, the immense ballad ‘Sister Christian’ and one of the great rock anthems in ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’, what’s not to like?


    • I think you defined Night Ranger perfectly, melodic hard rock. You also hit the nail on the head with the components of the album, there is definitely everything to like about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rumours In the Air is a great track….nice write up


  6. I love this album. And I definitely agree they were never metal. Their heaviest album would have been Dawn Patrol, but still not metal. Thanks for the reminder on this album, it has been awhile since I listened to it and now I want to go back and give it another listen.


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