The ‘80s gave us many bands that sounded and looked the same to the point that it became almost impossible to tell one band from the next. You all know the household names: Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Ratt, Poison, etc. In the midst of that was a band that started a bit before most of the quote-on-quote “hair metal” acts of the decade and despite being a bit tamer was successful nevertheless. That band of course is Night Ranger, a California act that grew out of the funk-rock band Rubicon and left its mark with numbers like “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “Sister Christian”. The band split up in 1989 but reunited two years later, sporadically releasing albums in the decades since. Their latest release is ATBPO, shorthand for And The Band Played On; a testament to their endurance as a band over the last forty years and more importantly over the last year and a half.
Right off the bat you get a good ol’ shot of melodic AOR on “Coming For You” with the synthesizers that have been ever-so-key to their sound over the years opening the track up. We get an even stronger dose of trademark Night Ranger on “Bring It On Home To Me”, then a Brad Gillis shredder on “Breakout” and a harmony-filled shuffle on “So Hard To Make It Easy”. “Can’t Afford A Hero” slows things down, maintaining the fluidity of the album while changing up the dynamics accordingly while “Cold as December” turns it back up a couple notches. Jack Blades’ vocals shine through on “Dance” and “The Hardest Road”, bringing back some of those old Damn Yankees vibes; as far as the drums go Kelly Keagy puts the drive into “Monkey” and gives it that road-dog vibe it deserves and grooves the hell out of “Lucky Man”. We get one last rocker with “Tomorrow”, closing it out with a final airtight display of power-chord and vocal-chord prowess.
If there’s anything you can glean from ATBPO, it’s how well Night Ranger has aged since the ‘80s. Plenty of bands lose their touch over time, whether due to age, substance abuse, their chemistry fading away or all of the above. With Night Ranger, their melodies are on point and their harmonies cut through perfectly, and the music overall, while it is classic rock doesn’t sound like it’s stuck in the glory days- timeless is the appropriate word here. Let’s hope they can keep this magic for as long as possible, and seeing as though these guys are all in their ‘60s and can still put something like this out, it’s very likely they could if not guaranteed that they will.