"ATBO" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Night Ranger deliver another slab of 80s style hard rock with "ATBO." (In case you're wondering—I was—"ATBO" stands for "And the Band Played On," a nod at the fact that much of this album was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic).

"ATBO" starts off with the surprising hard-rocking "Coming for You," and it sounds like the band is doing just that. Driving guitars and a faster-than-expected pace make this a great way to start the album off. Up next is "Bring It Home to Me," which sounds a little more like the Night Ranger I expected to hear. A little more melodic, a little more radio-friendly. The next few songs are more of the same, that hard-edged melodic quality that Night Ranger is best known for.

Track #5 changes things up a bit. "Can't Afford a Hero" is an unabashed ballad, complete with a gentler pace and vocals. It sounds a little bit like modern country music sounds. "Cold as December" is up next and its like the band is trying to turn things around again, with this track's driving guitar riff.

The rest of the album wanders back and forth between these sounds, from the ballad-y "The Hardest Road," to the hard-rocking "Monkey" to the once again modern country sounds of "A Lucky Man" and "Tomorrow."

The album concludes with the very Night Ranger-sounding "Savior."

Bottom line is this: If you're a fan of Night Ranger, I doubt there's any chance you won't like "ATBO." Of course, the opposite can be said if you've never been a fan of the band. "ATBO" sounds like Night Ranger, or some form of it, from beginning to end. If you're into that melodic, radio friendly hard rock, you're gonna like what you hear here. If you're not, then you probably won't.

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"Hole in the Sun" (VH-1 Classic Records; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I never really expected to hear a new record from Night Ranger and, even if one did arrive, I never expected it be much more than mediocre. After all, it's been ten years since their last studio recording and, frankly, the band's music hadn't done much for me in awhile.

Then, lo and behold, what should show up in my mail box but a new CD by Night Ranger? And, after playing it through a few times, I discovered it's also pretty damn good.

Featuring twelve tracks of the band's trademark, radio-friendly hard rock songs (i.e., "Tell Your Vision," "Rockstar," "White Knuckle Ride") as well as several of their ever-popular ballads ("There is Life," "Fool in Me," "Revelation 4AM"), "Hole in the Sun" is a solid rock'n'roll recording from beginning to end. Fans of classic rock will eat this record up, especially those who were fans of the band way back when.

Of course, much of the CD's success has to do with the all-star line-up of the band. You've got four of the five original members (Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy and Jeff Watson, all of whom sound great here) and "newer" member (since 2003) Jeff Watson of Great White. Maybe it's the ten years since they recorded their last studio CD but Night Ranger sound revitalized here, the music crisp and catchy, full of charisma and energy. They rock a little harder than I remember from past Night Ranger records here, and even the ballads don't overstay their welcome, instead sounding like a very important part of the album experience.

I didn't realize how much I missed Night Ranger until I heard "Hole in the Sun." I really hope it's not another ten years before the band's next CD!

Also featured on "Hole in the Sun" are two bonus tracks: Acoustic versions of "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sister Christian," both of which the band pulls off with surprisingly successful results.

Night Ranger: Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy, Jeff Watson, Michael Lardie.

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"Seven" (CMC International; 1998)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Don't compare the Night Ranger of the 80s to this CD. "Sister Christian" was written way back then.

Night Ranger has been around for a long time. They've written and recorded songs for movies, and helped out with other musical projects, like Damn Yankees. Brad Gillis even played guitar for Ozzy Osbourne so that should tell you his guitar here is full force. I almost had to get the fire extinguisher, the solos were that smoking. This is a guitar player's CD. Jeff Watson presents his famous eight fingered solo too. Listen with awe.

The vocals are excellent, harmonies abound, and with the help of Styx's Tommy Shaw and Jack Russell of Great White in some places, it's still Night Ranger only fresher and updated. You'll like it, trust me! “Revelation” sounds like classic Night Ranger. It will take you back to "Don't Tell Me You Love Me."

I picked this disc up because I hadn't heard anything from Night Ranger in a long time and it seems that all the side projects have died off. This disc is great to play at max level. 

You can thank me later.

The best songs on the album are “Sign of the Times,” “Panic In Jane,” “Kong,” “Soul Survivor,” and “Sea of Love.”

Night Ranger: Jack Blades - bass and lead vocals; Alan Fitzgerald - keyboards; Brad Gillis - guitar; Kelly Keagy - drums; Jeff Watson - guitars.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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