Great Rock Albums of 1987: Night Ranger- Big Life

After their 1985, “7 Wishes” album, Night Ranger were yet another hard rock band I accused of selling out. That album, in my mind cemented my belief that Night Ranger were not heavy metal. Even though I was in England in 1987, I couldn’t get away from them. They are considered two-hit wonders in the UK, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sister Christian” being the hits. The former tune was played without fail every Friday night when I went to Oscar’s for heavy metal night. Still, when a friend of mine who was a huge Night Ranger fan informed me that they had a new album out, I wasn’t waiting with baited breath to hear it. But I did hear it and man I am glad I did.

No one can accuse Night Ranger of selling out on “Big Life.” The album starts with two great hard rocking tracks, the title track and my favourite track, “Color of Your Smile.” Here’s the weird thing, on both of those songs, Night Ranger sound a lot like KISS. In fact, if I close my eyes, I can hear Paul Stanley singing both of those songs. There are some good power chords and a great guitar solo on both. If one hadn’t heard a single note from Night Ranger and heard these two tracks first, that person would have thought they were a metal band.

Things head in a more AOR direction on the third track, “Love is Standing Near.” I say heading but they don’t quite go as far as “Sentimental Street” from the last album. I don’t mind the keyboard domination on this song because Alan Fitzgerald is one of the best keyboardists in the business and there is a great guitar solo. I’m not sure who plays which guitar solo on which song but let me tell you this. “Big Life” solidifies the fact that Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson were a formidable guitar duo.

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

When I heard the track, “The Secret of My Success,” my reaction was that this track would have been perfect on a 1980s film soundtrack. Then I remembered that in 1987, there was a film starring Michael J. Fox called “The Secret of My Success” and that track is on the soundtrack. Oh damn my Swiss cheese memory. On a side note, I had a look at the soundtrack and I have put it down for a post when I get to soundtracks of 1987. There are some good songs on it.

Another plus to the album is there are not one but two mind blowing power ballads! “Rain Comes Crashing Down” and the closer, “Hearts Away,” have everything a great power ballad needs. Tear jerking vocals, although neither song makes me want to cry because the power chords are that explosive and the guitar solos are top notch. Of the three tracks which fall between the movie soundtrack song and the mind blowing power ballad closer, the hidden gem is the middle track, “Better Let it Go.” It has a cool acoustic guitar first verse and then the power chords kick in. I love how the song just builds in intensity right up to the great guitar solo. Not that there is anything wrong with the two tracks on either side of the song. The one after is a good steady rock tune although the one before is the closest track to filler. They’re okay and do their job to convince me that this is a Night Ranger album which I like.

Track Listing:

  1. Big Life
  2. Color of Your Smile
  3. Love is Standing Near
  4. Rain Comes Crashing Down
  5. The Secret of My Success
  6. Carry On
  7. Better Let it Go
  8. I Know Tonight
  9. Hearts Away
Night Ranger

Jack Blades- bass, lead vocals

Kevin Keagy- drums, lead vocals

Brad Gillis- guitar, backing vocals

Jeff Watson- guitar

Alan ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald- keyboards

If Night Ranger were here, I would apologize to them for ever doubting them. True, “7 Wishes” was a sell out album but in my mind, they totally redeemed themselves with “Big Life” and proved they can still rock on!

Next post: Carly Simon- Coming Around Again

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17 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1987: Night Ranger- Big Life”

  1. You can still rock in America!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Secret of my Success is a great track. My pal Tbone loved this album..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You like this one a lot more than I did. I couldn’t get in to this one as a lot of it was so cheesy for me with the lyrics and the ballads. However, “Rain Comes Crashing Down” might be the best song on the album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I only knew Sister Christian, then and now. Couldn’t have named another song before this. You are teaching me things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like that these guys are still cranking out new tunes. “Breakout” may never make a greatest hits compilation, but it’s very listenable and at least they’re still trying! Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The first four tracks are a knockout combo.

    Liked by 1 person

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