Archive for Midnight Madness

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Night Ranger- Man in Motion

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2022 by 80smetalman

At least the 80smetalman curse can’t be blamed for the lack of success of Night Ranger’s “Man in Motion” album. For those who don’t know, the 80smetalman curse is that if I really like a band or a record it seems to be doomed not to be big. Examples, take three bands I have plugged on here. Black Emerald have broken up, Slave to Sirens are on a hiatus and are looking for a new singer and drummer and though Greywinds are still going, they haven’t gained that much attraction. However, back in 1988, I didn’t even know that Night Ranger had put this album out because in the UK, they were and probably always be known for two big songs, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sister Christian.” The thing is that now I have listened to “Man In Motion,” I think it’s now my favourite Night Ranger album.

When I heard this album, I was blown away how much it rocked! The power chords come in straight away on the opening title cut. The heavy keyboards from their previous two albums were toned down and the guitars turned up. Now, this could have been down to the departure of keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, which in one sense was a shame because he was good but on the other hand, it did open the door for guitarists Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis to show what a great guitar duo they were.

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

Here’s another paradox which confronts me in regards to the album. Normally, the hit single is not my favourite track on most albums but in this case, it is. “Reason to Be” is a cooker of a song which wouldn’t be out of place on many metal albums. After an ear catching acoustic intro, the song kicks into full gear and just simply rocks out and has a cool guitar solo. It was released as a single and was the highest charter making it to #’48. Logic dictates that I shouldn’t like it but I really do.

The second best track, I guess I can call this one the hidden gem, comes right after. “Don’t Start Thinking (I’m Alone Tonight)” takes me back to Night Ranger’s first two albums, “Midnight Madness” and “Dawn Patrol.” When I listen to this track, I keep thinking that they should have kept this sound all along. And the party doesn’t end there. A heavy metal intro brings in “Love Shot Me Down” and that metal sound continues all through the song. Man, I do love the guitar solo but unfortunately, Wikipedia isn’t letting onto which guitar virtuoso plays the solo on it.

Flashbacks of “Sister Christian” come through when I hear “Restless Kind.” I think they were definitely trying to recapture that former glory with this one and I do say that it comes pretty close but let’s be honest here, there is only one “Sister Christian.” Still, as far as power ballads go, it’s a good one. They go in a KISS direction on “Halfway to the Sun” as it does sound comparable to 80s KISS. It’s still a good song.

“Here She Comes Again” is more 80s pop rock and maybe should have been released as a single. It’s not a bad song but definitely not my favourite on the album but the fickle record buying trendy public might have bought it. More KISS vibes come through on “Right On You.” If fact, this one sounds more KISS than the previously mentioned KISS sounding song. It’s a great fun song to rock out to and things keep on rocking with “Kiss Me Where It Hurts.” It has the classic Watson/Gillis guitar solo tradeoff which is something I have always liked about Night Ranger.

The album closes with two decent but unspectacular tracks, “I Did It For Love” and “Woman in Love.” The former was released as a single abut only got to #75. Listening to it, I thought it might have done better but there’s better tracks on the album. “Woman in Love” does bring the album to a rocking close and it’s a good way to end things because I have difficulty picturing it being anywhere else on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Man in Motion
  2. Reason to Be
  3. Don’t Start Thinking (I’m Along Tonight)
  4. Love Shot Me Down
  5. Restless Kind
  6. Halfway to the Sun
  7. Here She Comes Again
  8. Right On You
  9. Kiss Me Where it Hurts
  10. I Did It for Love
  11. Woman in Love
Night Ranger (1988)

Jack Blades- bass, lead and backing vocals

Brad Gillis- guitar, backing vocals

Jeff Watson- guitar

Kelly Keagy- drums, lead and backing vocals, percussion

Jesse Bradman- keyboards, backing vocals

Additional Musicians:

Alan Pasquale, Claude Gaudette, Eric Persing, Joyce Imbesi, John Purdell- additional keyboards

John Purdell, Kevin Chalfant- additional backing vocals

It was great that on “Man in Motion,” Night Ranger went back to a more hard rocking sound and without sounding like Rick Springfield. This is a cracker of an album which was why it didn’t have the commercial success it should have.

Next post: 38 Special- Rock and Roll Strategy

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2016 by 80smetalman

Midnightranger

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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