It’s been 30 years since Night Ranger hit the scene. The power rock outfit scored its biggest hit with the power balled Sister Christian in 1984, but the slow sultry sounds of that pop hit never really defined what the band was like. Now in 2011, original members Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy and Jack Blades have put out their hardest sounding record yet. Somewhere in California is a hard rock full course meal ready to be devoured by hard rock fans everywhere.
While the catchy and melodic title track sounds like it could easily fit on the band’s Greatest Hits album, it’s the second track Lay It On Me which sets the tone for a much heavier album. Lay It On Me sounds a little like Turbo-ear Judas Priest without the screeching vocals, while Rock N’ Roll Tonite and Say It With Love kick serious hard rock ass. The heavier material is similar to now defunct Canadian melodic rockers Harem Scarem, but the songs have more rock n’ roll swagger than the Harem ever had.
The guitars seem to be showcased in the mix, giving the album its heavy sound. Even the strong melodies and group harmonies in most of the tracks battle with the guitars for supremacy. In the end, the big vocals, which have been a staple throughout the band’s entire career, can’t be beat. The heaviest of tracks still end up sounding like Night Ranger in the end because of those vocals and group harmonies.
Like some of their other hard rock counterparts, Night Ranger have sold a lot of records – 16 million – but the band can’t be heard on the radio. There’s a ton of radio friendly hits on this album, but the title track, Somewhere In California, deserves it’s just day on the airwaves. It’s a Night Ranger classic.