Night Ranger – “ATBPO” (Frontiers Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Having sold over 17 million albums worldwide, performed across more than 4,000 stages, made over ten #1 hit videos and captivated a radio audience exceeding 1 billion, Night Ranger epitomized arena rock during the 80s. “ATBPO”, the band’s 12th studio release, stands for ‘And The Band Played On’, which is exactly what Night Ranger did during the recording of this album, despite it all taking place under lockdown conditions. For some bands, this radical change would have presented an insurmountable challenge, but the founding core of Jack Blades (bass, vocals), Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals) and Brad Gillis (lead and rhythm guitars) have seen it all before with Blades forming Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw, Keagy a core member of Scrap Metal along with Mark Slaughter and Gunnar Nelson, and Gillis famed for being the guitarist chosen by Ozzy to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Randy Rhodes! As such, the 11 tracks here pump and jump with all the arena rock excitement that Night Ranger have been famed for all these years earning them a hot streak of multi-platinum and gold album awards. Opening with ‘Coming For You’, it’s like the light switch has just been flipped as the pulsating arena rock energy floods in through hard hitting drums, high soulful vocals and even more crooning harmonies, red blooded grade ‘A’ US rock guitar and even a odd cop siren as the band sweep you offa your feet as Blades sings ‘…all I wanna do is shake your tree…’ and indeed he does with little let up in the euphoria – wow! Leaving a lump in my throat on ‘The Hardest Road’ through Gillis’ tender acoustic work and Eric Levy’s delicate piano, the emotion inherent in Blades and Keagy’s vocals makes this ballad a thoroughly moving affair, although not without its own uplifting energy as the wailing guitar picks you up to prove that even in the darkest tunnel, there is a light as echoed in the beautiful chorus as Blades comfortingly sings at the end ‘…it’ll be alright…’. Kicking my ass all over the stage to the groove on ‘A Lucky Man’, this cracker of an Americana is what rock ‘n’ roll is all about as the guitars yank ‘n’ crank along to Blades and Keagy’s laid back but catchy croons before Gillis tears it up leaving the chorus buzzing in your head like the aftermath of a gig when you’re soaked in sweat but still buzzing with excitement. Lockdown or not, on “ATBPO” Night Ranger cut thru it all to bring their show home to you.