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Night Ranger - 2012 24 Strings And A Drummer - Live And Acoustic

ARTIST: Night Ranger
ALBUM: 24 Strings And A Drummer - Live And Acoustic
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2012
SPONSOR: Frontiers Haulix Portal


LINEUP: Jack Blades - bass, guitar, vocals * Kelly Keagy - drums, percussion, vocals * Brad Gillis - lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals * Joel Hoekstra - lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals * Eric Levy - keyboards, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 This Boy Needs To Rock * 02 When You Close Your Eyes * 03 Sing Me Away * 04 Growing Up In California * 05 The Secret Of My Success * 06 Sentimental Street * 07 Four In The Morning * 08 Let Him Run Goodbye * 09 Forever All Over Again * 10 Don't Tell Me You Love Me * 11 Sister Christian * 12 (You Can Still) Rock In America * 13 Boys Of Summer (Bonus Track)



Night Ranger have been off my radar for many years now. However, it was nice to see them back on form with 2011's 'Somewhere In California', and our review of that effort was justifiably rewarded. In 2012, Jack, Brad, Kelly and co deliver another live album. Not so much an electric live album (they did give us two live albums previously, one in 1990 the other in 2008), but instead we get an unplugged performance under the fancy title '24 Strings And A Drummer'. Now I will admit to not being too fond of acoustic/unplugged performances - only MSG and Heart have come anywhere near close to being likeable for my eclectic tastes. So it was with some surprise (and a nice one it was too) that Night Ranger sound pretty damn good at this acoustic caper, though it does sound kinda strange hearing some of my favourite tracks off 'Dawn Patrol' being given an 'unplugged' party dress in front of an appreciative audience. But still.. It is effectively a 30th anniversary for the band, and good on them for surviving as they long as they have. Recorded in a small all-acoustic setting in San Rafael during May 2012, Frontiers have released this as a CD/DVD set, but for this review we'll focus on the 13 tracks from the CD.

The Songs
Kicking off is a bluesy rendition of 'This Boy Needs To Rock', which kinda has a Rolling Stones vibe about it. Eric Levy's honky-tonk piano also adds to the occasion, so too all the doo-doo vocal improvs. 'When You Close Your Eyes' on the other hand goes down The Eagles route, and sounds kinda cool the way it's interpreted here. One of my favourite NR songs ever is 'Sing Me Away', and the acoustic handling is close to the original style, minus those lush synths from Alan Fitzgerald. The vocal harmonies are great, so too the audience chit-chat from Jack Blades, ensuring the gathering gets right into it. 'Growing Up In California' is one NR's newer songs, and has a bubbly personality and sounds tailor-made for this acoustic style. 'The Secret Of My Success' was a track I wasn't particularly enamoured back in the day, however I will it sounds better suited to an acoustic approach. Eric Levy breaks out the piano again for the big NR ballad of 1985 'Sentimental Street'. He has an extended solo spot at the beginning of this great track. 'Four In The Morning' was also sourced from 1985's '7 Wishes', at the time it straddled the fence of ballad and rocker, so it's ideal getting a workout here. 'Let Him Run' and 'Goodbye' are genuine acoustic efforts and as a pairing work together well. Incidentally, they tracked each other on the 1990 'Live In Japan' CD. 'Forever All Over Again' is the best known track from 1998's 'Neverland' album, and it sounds appropriate given that it came from that unfortunate timeline of melodic rock. The classic 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' is given a super-heated energetic rendition and a fantastic crowd reception too. No surprises here, it's my favourite ever NR track! NR's biggest hit 'Sister Christian' is given a delicate airing, with melodic acoustic guitars chiming off each other. The pace picks up during the chorus. Nice to hear this again. Need to drag out 'Midnight Madness' for a re familiarisation. Perhaps on my road-trip coming up shortly? The other big NR hit '(You Can Still) Rock In America' is played with vigourous intent. Probably hard not to after performing it hundreds of times over the years! A cover of Don Henley's 'Boys Of Summer' is provided as a bonus track, it's everything you could've expected from an iconic 80's tune.

In Summary
I'm glad I spent some time with this album, I enjoyed it. So much so I might even track down the DVD as I'm sure this set will look as good as it sounds. The other notable observation is that Night Ranger's legacy of tunes over 30 years is vast. The fact we only got a snippet of some of these means that several 'classics' as identified by myself over the years weren't included, but would've made a good fit.. no doubting that. A great way to celebrate a 30th anniversary, thanks for the memories lads!

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#1 | gdazegod on December 24 2012 11:03:42
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