Forty two years after it’s inception, the Night Ranger juggernaut continues to roll along. There have been a few bumps and missteps along the way, sure, but remarkably, as the band continues rocking into a sixth decade of operation, new album ATBPO finds them sounding fresh and revitalised, continuing an uninterrupted string of fine albums that started in 2011 with the excellent Somewhere in California.
Led by the ageless Jack Blades, who quite literally sounds exactly the same as he did on the band’s debut 1982 offering Dawn Patrol, the band reel in the years with a set of perky classic rockers that’ll have fans of the band from way back punching the air with delight time and again over the course of the album’s eleven track duration. The years of hit singles and multi-platinum adoration may well be behind the band now, but you’d never know it from the quality of music offered up on ATBPO.
The likes of superb pop rocker Tomorrow, which closes the album in tear-jerkingly exuberant style, titanic ballad The Hardest Road and the excellent Cold As December all deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the band’s classic eighties work, but picking those three out is not to diminish the uniformly high quality of every track on the album.
Blades is in typically mischief-filled form throughout, ably supported by the stellar guitaring of Brad Gillis; Gillis in turn has formed a fine partnership with newish guitarist Kerri Kelli. Kelli might not pack the virtuoso punch of former ‘Ranger six stringers Jeff Watson or Joel Hoekstra, but he provides the perfect foil for his senior partner throughout. Their work on opening track Coming For You is one of the highlights on a highlight-packed album. The latest in a long line of fiery Night Ranger rockers, the track is propelled by some muscular drumming from the ever-reliable Kelly Keagy. Not content with this, Keagy also delivers one of his most convincing vocal performances in some time with the afore-mentioned The Hardest Road, which is an utterly spellbinding new take on that most beloved-institution, the lighter-waving Night Ranger power ballad…
And let’s not forget keyboard maestro Eric Levy. He’s content to play a supporting role on ATBPO for the most part, save for some nice honky tonk piano on Hard to Make it Easy, but his contributions to the overall sound palette are vital to the overall ‘Ranger sound.
ATBPO stands for And The Band Played On, a reference to the band’s indefatigable work ethic and how it remained unbowed even in the midst of the COVID crisis of 2020. And quite frankly, with Blades and company being in this kind of form, I for one am quite happy to hear them playing on for as long as they like in the coming years.
ATBPO releases on August August 6th.