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Night Ranger - 2011 Somewhere In California

ARTIST: Night Ranger
ALBUM: Somewhere In California
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2011


LINEUP: Jack Blades - bass, vocals * Brad Gillis - guitar * Kelly Keagy - drums, vocals * Joel Hoekstra - guitar * Eric Levy - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Growin' Up In California * 02 Lay It On Me * 03 Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight) Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight) * 04 Follow Your Heart * 05 Time Of Our Lives * 06 No Time To Lose Ya * 07 Live For Today * 08 It's Not Over * 09 End Of The Day * 10 Rock N' Roll Tonight * 11 Say It With Love



Much like Journey's latest opus, Night Ranger promised in the buildup to their latest release that they would be returning to their heavier based roots, with emphasis on the melody and classic AOR strains of their first three albums. In all fairness Night Ranger have been a huge letdown since the classic lineup reformed in the late 90's and nothing they have done since has come close to any of their 80's material, or even the forgotten 'Feeding Off The Mojo' from 1995. But with Jeff Watson and Alan Fitzgerald long gone and replaced by a pair of clones, the founding trio of originals have tried to recapture what made NR such an AOR institution when this type of music really mattered. Cynics might say it's too late, especially with the memories of flops like 'Seven' and 'Hole In The Sun', but is it? Whether anyone really cares is the issue..

The Songs
Lead single 'Growing Up In California' has been heard by many here and most will recognise immediately the obvious attempt to rehash 'You Can Still Rock In America's classic anthemic style. It isn't bad, but it seems rather forced, especially the keyboard work, which might as well be Fitzgerald. 'Lay It On Me' is heavier, but with an intriguing hook, a good blend of 80's influenced vocals and more modern riffing. Even better is 'Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)' which could be from 1985 and even has shadings of Bruce Springsteen mixed in with the bands vintage melodies. 'Follow Your Heart' opens similarly to 'Rumors In The Air' with the synth intro, before developing into a heavy-handed rocker far more immediate in effect than anything off 'Eclipse'. These guys really show Schon and co how it should be done.. The first huge ballad appears with 'Time Of Our Lives,' which might have been a hit in 87 but really pales next to 'No Time To Lose Ya' and its huge chorus. This is the bands best pure AOR moment in decades, staggering evidence they still know how to deliver when it counts. More downbeat is 'Live For Today,' which is a return to the dullness of the previous three albums, with those sickening Beatles harmonies that never sound good played by anyone, especially with the tired orchestration. The album takes a slight nosedive from here, with some throwaway rockers, before the boys try their hand once more at another rock anthem, this time 'Rock N' Roll Tonite,' which sadly isn't a Krokus cover. It's predictable and over the top, but preferable to slop like 'Live For Today'. Ending things off brightly is 'Say It With Love', which again displays the band at their melodic best, with some neat guitar work, accomplished AOR to any listener.

In Summary
While the album is flawed in places, this is far better than I expected and I think the band should rightfully be proud of the end result. This has the type of immediacy that Journey was missing with 'Eclipse' and shows that heaviness and melody can go together without stretching past 5 or 6 minutes a track. While it never approaches 'Dawn Patrol' or 'Midnight Madness' for AOR purity, it's likely as good as you'll get from the band at this stage of their career.

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#1 | gdazegod on June 20 2011 13:39:41
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on June 20 2011 13:45:12
Some reasonable moments on here for sure. What's with Joel ripping off Jeff Watson's goldtop Gibson? As for Brad's trademark red/black strat, man that axe has seen better days. It looks kinda thrashed.. lol!
#3 | roadrunner158 on June 20 2011 15:30:03
Really strong effort. There's a bit for everyone: Some tracks go back to NR's first 3 albums, while some other tracks will please those that - like me - prefer their mid-80s output.
#4 | Nick_L on June 29 2011 03:17:56
Thanks for posting, Dangerzone... saw them one week ago in Milan (their first time EVER in Italy in 30 years) on the same bill with Journey, Foreigner and Thin Lizzy. While u r RIGHT on the fact that the newcomers look a bit like 'clones' (especially Eric Levy, who wore Fitz' s specs and even woolen hat in the heat of Italian summer! lol), I have to take my hat off TWICE to Joel Hoekstra for effortlessly reproducing the 4- fingers tapping of Jeff Watson without missing a note during 'You Can Still Rock In America' .... image- wise, get close to him and you' ll have the impression of witnessing Sebastian Bach playing guitar for Night Ranger! ;-) as for the new album, I only have heard the title track and it sounds good, punchy with a pop/ radio friendly hook and lots of heavy guitar work... will have to check out the rest asap...
#5 | jeffrey343 on July 04 2011 19:17:40
Wow. This is what I'd expect a Night Ranger album to sound like if AOR had remained a major genre for the past 20 years. I wasn't really expecting great things after 'Hole In The Sun' didn't do much for me. But I heard some rave reviews of this, and I must say it's as good as advertised. It manages to sound both retro and modern. They did this to a pretty good extent with 'Neverland' back in 1997, then they went in a different direction with 'Seven' and (many years later) 'Hole In The Sun'. But this is exactly what I want a NR album to be - big guitars, big choruses, keys, lots of hooks.

After a dozen spins, my favorite songs (so far) are 'Time Of Our Lives' and 'End Of The Day'. TOOL is even bigger than 'Sister Christian'. I'll agree with Alun that the weakest cut is 'Live For Today', but even that is pretty good (sounds like it could have come from the 'Seven' album).

It's too early to put this into historical context, as I played the heck out of their first five albums from 1982 on (and their next two, not counting 'Mojo', from 1997 on). But if I had never heard of NR until this album, I think I'd have a hard time thinking the earlier stuff was any better. Kinda like Treat's 'Coup de Grace' being the first Treat album I heard, and it overshadows their fine earlier material to me.
#6 | Jez on July 20 2011 12:09:09
I didn't mind 'Hole In The Sun' at all when it was released, although it was no where near their best work, but this is a different ball game. I can proudly announce that Night Ranger are back big time with a huge album. Great songs, great, big tight production job and a band that sounds on fire. THE best Night Ranger disc since 'Man In Motion'. Just buy it

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