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Night Ranger - 1983 Midnight Madness

ARTIST: Night Ranger
ALBUM: Midnight Madness
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 2002, MCA, MCAD-31160


LINEUP: Jack Blades - lead vocals, bass * Kelly Keagy - lead vocals, drums * Brad Gillis - guitars * Jeff Watson - guitars * Alan Fitzgerald - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 (You Can Still) Rock In America * 02 Rumours In The Air * 03 Why Does Love Have To Change * 04 Sister Christian * 05 Touch Of Madness * 06 Passion Play * 07 When You Close Your Eyes * 08 Chippin' Away * 09 Let Him Run


Like Aldo Nova's 'Subject' from the same year, 'Midnight Madness' is the follow up to a classic debut that was roundly panned, when in many ways it was better than its predecessor. To many observers the music didn't match up to 'Dawn Patrol', 'not as heavy' many thought, but realistically it was more direct. The choruses are immediate and the vital synth-guitar combo is more melodic. The chart results were undeniable. The album went top twenty while 'Sister Christian' hit no 5 in the singles charts. '(You Can Still) Rock In America' and 'When You Close Your Eyes' fared well also, hitting the respective positions of 51 and 14.

The Songs
'(You Can Still) Rock In America' was an instant 'made for radio' anthem. Very non-threatening hard rock with the obligatory blatant sing-a-long chorus. This gets more airplay in the U.S. as the years go on. 'Rumours In The Air' is a show of synth brilliance, interspersed with melodic riffing. Those synth solos are showstopping. 'Why Does Love Have To Change' features the dual lead work of Watson and Gillis, a highlight of the whole album. 'Sister Christian' is the overplayed classic 'ballad' which grew stale years back. It's hardly a ballad, those guitars are way too heavy for that. 'Touch Of Madness' doesn't have the payoff hook of side one, but feisty hard rock. As 'AOR' as they were, early Night Ranger relied on big riffs as much as the keyboards. Quite the pivotal pair were Watson and Gillis. 'Passion Play' has a memorable opening first few bars, so melodic you know a treat is in store. The chorus has perfect backing harmonies with the lead vocal riding them. The nostalgia of 'When You Close Your Eyes' recalls when 'we learned about love in the back of a Chevrolet' with a harmless but pleasant chorus. 'Chippin Away' and 'Let Him Run' end things on a stellar note. Faultless in all departments and textbook AOR to any man.

In Summary
This albums position must be evaluated after nearly 20 years. Released at a time when classic AOR was as common as grass, maybe this might have let certain people down. But taken into account in the present day it wipes the floor with most of today's material. It has all the melody in the world - what more is needed? A case perhaps of not believing everything you might have read. Real AOR fans knew the truth way back then.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on April 04 2008 14:28:34
I bought this as soon as it came out. Although I immediately loved it, I did have mixed feelings. It was definitely more melodic than their debut, but I found it to be missing the guitar pyrotechnics from 'Dawn Patrol'. I thought 'Touch Of Madness' and 'Passion Play' were just screaming for killer solos - that would have made them pretty much perfect songs. I've mellowed some on that stance over the years, though. This is one of the albums from my high school days that still gets played a lot.
#2 | Jez on June 13 2008 04:48:08
Album number 2 and a great follow up to the stunning 'Dawn Patrol'. Maybe not as quite as strong, and definately lighter, but still crammed to the max with sheer class. 'Sister Christian' is still a great ballad 20 years, on while 'You Can Still (Rock In America) & 'Why Does Love Have To Change' rock with the best of them.
#3 | Eric on September 19 2009 18:40:52
Man, these guys toured like the dickens back then. I remember them playing shows in towns here in the upper Midwest that never saw a concert before and haven't since. Following the REO/ Cheap Trick touring handbook it seems...
#4 | super80boy on April 26 2014 15:35:50
This was a very strong follow up album bolstered by a perfect melodic gem 'Sister Christian'. There were plenty more songs to focus in on, like the other two album singles, 'Rock In America' and 'When You Close Your Eyes', as well as the non single tracks 'Passion Play' and 'Rumours In The Air', which are just outstanding.
#5 | jeffrey343 on April 26 2014 22:44:45
'Rumours In The Air' might not have been a single, but I did hear it a few times on the radio. It was after the album had been out for just a few months - I think it was January or February 1984. That was back in the day when you usually didn't know the next single to be released until you heard it on the radio, and I was excited that this was it (even though it wasn't, officially). Of course, the album just cruised along under the radar until later that year when 'Sister Christian' took on a life of its own. While I love a lot of the bands of today, I do miss the excitement of hearing them on the radio.

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