Night Ranger — ATBPO (Frontiers)
NWOCR one week. ATBPO the next.
Acronyms are all the rage in rock and roll right now.
And it’s no surprise that melodic rock royalty Night Ranger are right on trend.
Back in the mid 80s theirs was a sound synonymous with shiny MTV gloss.
Hits like Sister Christian and Sentimental Street underpinned back-to-back platinum-selling albums.
And bar a brief lull in the early 90s (when vocalist/bass player Jack Blades quit to form Damn Yankees) Night Ranger have always had a knack for penning AOR perfection.
Even when the genre hit rock bottom Brad Gillis and co. rode the storm.
And The Band Played On (see?) is the perfect title for Night Ranger’s lucky 13th long player.
But is it the perfect record? Perhaps.
ATBPO during a global pandemic
To put ATBPO in context it’s the typical pandemic album.
Recorded remotely, it might lack the creative spark synonymous with an in-person collaboration.
But Night Ranger was never going to let a global virus knock them off course.
And if ATBPO’s missing a certain spontaneity it’s all about the polished production and opportunity to double down on decades of studio experience.
For Gillis it was a chance to roll out the big guns.
The acclaimed six stringer introduced his vast collection of vintage axes to the mix.
Listen carefully and you’ll hear a ’57 Strat and a ’52 Gold Top. And the rest.
Meanwhile co-vocalists Blades and Kelly Keagy deliver a masterclass in pin-sharp vocals.
And when Night Ranger scream We’re Coming For You on ATBPO’s gutsy opener they really mean it.
With album sales in excess of 17 million this is a band with little to prove.
But it’s immediately obvious that besting 2017’s Don’t Let Up was the plan.
And the plan worked.
Blades and co. a cut above
Blades and Keagy’s intuitive partnership ensures Night Ranger never sound anything less than superior in a genre that demands perfection.
Greater than the sum of its parts, the band’s dual vocalists lead from the front.
And on ATBPO they set a familiar tone as those painstakingly produced songs make a play for pole position in the Night Ranger legacy.
Hard To Make It Easy says it best of all…
…because the classy Californians have worked tirelessly to make music this good.
ATBPO is bursting with anthems carefully crafted to slot seamlessly into a Night Ranger festival set.
And it’s easy to imagine mid-set highlights Can’t Afford A Hero and Cold As December dialling things up during a headline slot.
Bullish lead single Breakout (check out that blazing intro.!) barely hinted at the fine work here when it dropped in May.
But it’s one of several examples evidencing Night Ranger’s enduring talent.
ATBPO…we’re glad they did.