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Friday, July 15, 2011

Night Ranger – Somewhere in California album review

Night Ranger – Somewhere in California album review
Released on Frontiers records. Release date: Available now.

Most of you already know what favourites of mine, Night Ranger are and I will make no secret of it!
There, I said it ...!
I have indeed in the past done great interviews with both Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy, although not for this site, but over at Dave White’s before I got to doing this baby! – If you go over there and search, you’ll find them still there! – so it’s something I need to try and set up here at Chambers of Rock, as I’m sure you’d all appreciate the read. Both great guys!


With Night Ranger sometimes it seems the bands fans can – Sadly - be a little divided on their thoughts of the bands change in direction here and there. I for one, loved the older stuff ‘Dawn Patrol,’ ‘Midnight Madness’ and ‘Seven Wishes,’ as well as the ‘Man in Motion’ period. Then the great album that was ‘Neverland,’ the ‘different’ ‘Seven’ and eventually I came around to enjoy ‘Feeding the Mojo,’ that was released sans Jack Blades, while he was playing with Damn Yankees.

I really thought their last release, ‘Hole in the Sun’ was a great step forward, but with the mixed reception from die hard fans it has driven the band back to a more ‘classic’ Night Ranger sound, certainly with the edge of today’s recording technology, so it's kind of pleasing for all fans.

‘Somewhere in California’ kicks off with the immensely catchy and hook ridden ‘Growing Up in California’ that really launches with twin harmony guitars, from Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra backed with a harmony lead synth from new man Eric Levy too, great! Then right behind that we get Kelly Keagy’s powerful drums and Jack Blades powerhouse bass and a great enthusiastic vocal line from Jack, with great harmonies from the other guys too.

The song tells the story of how the band started off in their home state, great fun story line and an absolutely killer opening track if you ask me and traditional Night Ranger fans, could you really ask for more?!

With ‘Lay it on Me’ the band start the verse with the more modern edgy sound they’ve been playing in recent years, with but then in come some big ‘wooahh, woooah’ chorus lines, to keep the 80’s fans happy.
The vocal seems to be split between Jack and Kelly and these guys really have the trait down so well, the shared lead vocals just work so well.

Overall, I really love the familiar sound and style of Brad, Jack and Kelly but newer members Joel (Since 2008) and Eric Levy have really slotted in so well and already their touches flourish. Great stuff!

I have to say when I first heard the chourus ‘Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight),’ I couldn’t help but be reminded of the chorus in ‘Man in Motion’ track ‘Don’t Start Thinking I’m Alone Tonight’ and the similarity but to be honest this track is a lot more hook ridden that that and I love the ‘Man in Motion’ release, even if a lot of others didn’t so much.
This is again another killer contagious number that you WILL be singing the chorus to, no question!

With ‘Follow Your Heart’ next, it almost starts along the lines of Boston’s ‘Foreplay / Long Time’ with simply some organ jamming away, before the rest of the band slams in with big old powerchords, crashing cymbals and drums!
Then we get those wonderful harmony guitars again, just jamming away and then in comes the verse and a wonderful groove in the way that Night Ranger do so well! Am I biased? Sure, this is really good stuff, no question whatsoever!

Time for a classic Night Ranger power ballad and you know with these guys it’s an immense, smooth trip and ‘Time of Our Lives,’ does everything you could ever possibly want. It’s something that Kelly Keagy masters so well, to be honest it makes no difference if he’s singing ballads or rockers he’s got a great, almost soulful voice at times, especially on material like this.
Kelly has also proved it on his two solo albums too and I strongly recommend you check his solo work out if you haven’t already.

‘No Time To Lose Ya,’ is put simply a steady, well structured mid paced rocker, with a huge chorus and this album is just aglow with those throughout. Seriously, this album to me is such a strong release and if you think Journey can do what they do well, for me this release from Night Ranger tops the new one from Journey without a doubt, but that's just me perhaps?!

Where fans have been wanting, nay begging for Night Ranger to return to their classic sound, they have seriously done so well at doing that, with so many hook laden tracks here presented with a seriously modern sound. Simply brilliant!


‘Live For Today’ is a , steady pop rocker with a more modern yet melodic trip with in my opinion a hint of a nod towards The Beatles and one constant throughout the album, is the huge melodic harmony vocals that are just … Wow!
The band has really achieved so much in great overall musical talent and complete vocal power.

Some rhythmic drums and edgy guitar start ‘It’s Not Over’ before it kicks in proper and it’s a mid to up tempo edgy pop rocker and although I’ve mention the reference ‘pop rock’ a few times, it because this release should be so accessible to so many generations. They’ve a fantastic balance of modern commercial sound and yet managed to keep their classic trademark sound.
You’ll hear so many elements across the album that WILL remind you of all of the bands years of playing.
This year also, they apparently celebrate 30 years together, not bad eh? - I actually thought it was next year, but ...
Once ‘End of the Day’ gets going, after the big built up intro, it follows the same kind of upper tempo going and what a killer song – Really love the pre-chorus almost as much as the chorus - and you know at times I’m just stunned at how they’ve just managed to pull out so many out and out great songs.
The old harmony guitar solos get their moments on here too, not to mention the killer main solo and you know, having been such a fan of how (Thin) Lizzy perfected that trademark sound, it’s probably why I’ve grown to love this bands sound so much.

‘Rock N Roll Tonite’ rocks in a little like a Boston number firing up before getting into a steady verse, written in a similar fashion to more recent Night Ranger releases, before the pre-chorus and then an absolute party chorus! A real fun, yet absolutely a rocker of a track! Killer guitar work here!

The last track on this version of the album is ‘Say It With Love’ that starts gently with some piano before building into a big riffing intro, then a quickly semi-spoken verse with a chugging riff, then a slight pre-chorus into a tremendously catchy chorus. Clever interchanges.
The guitar solo in this is absolutely crazy, wow!
Then when the song comes back in, it eases back in and then grows again, back into the killer chorus. Wonderful stuff indeed!
The song winds down and wraps up with again, some beautiful piano.

There are a couple of special download editions of the album out there, one through Amazon with the Damn Yankees, ‘Coming of Age’ featuring special guest Ted Nugent on.
Would love to hear that, but alas, it’s not on here.

The iTunes version of the album includes as their bonus track, AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ covered.
Having heard the band play ‘Highway to Hell’ live, I’m sure that they do a great job on that one too!

So be careful where you pick up your copy of the album, there’s a basic copy – Still excellent! – which this is, then the Amazon and iTunes versions, but whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll be happy!

So overall, I’m one happy rock fan to have received this classy album for review, it’s seriously fantastic stuff, from a band that deserves so much more recognition than they’ve ever received.

I hope I get to see them this year with Journey and Foreigner, but right now I’m not sure how or if it will pan out.
Night Ranger is always a killer live show, that every rock fan deserves to see at least once and then you’ll be wanting to catch them live every year on!

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

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