Album Review: Night Ranger

Night Ranger  24 Strings & a Drummer

****(4/5)

 

Night Ranger's New AlbumIn the 1980’s, Night Ranger was the quintessential “opening act” for arena rock bands.  Kicking shows off for the likes of Loverboy and Sammy Hagar, Night Ranger would consistently excite crowds while getting them more than ready for an evening of rock and roll. On their latest album, 24 Strings & a Drummer (Live & Acoustic), Night Ranger gets the stage all to themselves and prove that they can still…wait for it…warm up a crowd (bet you thought I was going to say, ”They can still rock in America,” huh!?).

The  album is just what the title suggests…a live, acoustic concert featuring most, if not all, of Night Ranger’s hits.  On 24 Strings & a Drummer, Night Ranger is able to successfully tightrope across the pitfalls that often lead to failed acoustic hits albums. Most of the time, bands will either totally rearrange songs for an acoustic record or fail to provide anything fresh to the music.  Not Night Ranger.

The band brings new energy to their hits, even in this acoustic setting, thanks to the phenomenal guitar playing of Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra (‘Rock of Ages’ and Trans Siberian Orchestra).  Their playing is fast and fierce at times, leading to several outbursts of applause from the audience.

There are also several nuances that come together to make this an enjoyable record:  Kelly Keagy’s drum playing, Eric Levy’s piano, and particularly the group vocals.  Despite some of the voices turning raspy over the years, the group’s overall harmonies are spot on especially on songs like “Sing Me Away.”

The Group Night RangerIf Night Ranger had simply chosen to re-master their hits, their new disc would probably be collecting dust on my shelf.  But this fresh and energetic take on their music has put the band center stage on my playlist.

Choice Cuts:

“Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”— a barn burner including an audience sing along.  If this doesn’t blow out your speakers, nothing will!

“Sentimental Street”— I felt something here, not a Chris Matthews “tingling down my leg” feeling, but something nonetheless.  An emotional, reflective aura that wasn’t present in the original 1980s version.

Your turn!  What do you think about 24 Strings & a Drummer?  Share your thoughts with The Classic Rock Blog!

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