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Night Ranger Hits, Acoustic & Rarities iRock Records
Produced By: Night Ranger

Running Time: 52.15

Release Date: Out Now

Released:

Musical Style: Melodic Rock

Links: Night Ranger
83%
Songs: 83%
Sound: 83%
Why would any band want to re-record the most treasured songs of a long, illustrious career?
Many have done it over the years and you will only see it happen more and more as classic rock artists discover there is still a strong market for their music after all this time, but their back catalogue is tied up in draconian label deals that don't give access to the artists themselves.
Re-recording your own hits without the original label taking all the money is a great way to sell records and get instant rewards through the songwriters publishing returns.
It is also an easy way to get new music to fans without having to write a full album of new music.
In the case of Night Ranger a new US record label approached them with the idea, which the guys loved. It was also a way to get new music to fans while we wait for the all new studio album due out in the first half of 2006.
A new US release in stores increases a band's touring prospects as promoters like the fact a band has a new release to promote.
The downside is the fact that any band doing an album such as this is messing with a long established musical legacy and the fact that it is nearly impossible to add to that legacy.
These much loved tracks that have been with fans for years. In fact, some tracks here are now 23 years old. Has it really been that long?
Some artists change style formats, some strip things back with an acoustic album, but in Night Ranger's case, the guys have decided for the full band approach, reprising the originals faithfully.
So what is the point? Well, for long time fans, it is something cool to check out and it in this instance it shows how the band have matured and how years of touring has given these songs a slightly different shape.
And for the first time, we get to hear new keyboard player Michael Lardie at work. The former Great White member replaces original keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, who is busy working on the Bruce Springsteen tour as keyboard tech (he's formerly toured with Van Halen also).
On Hits, Acoustic & Rarities the band treats their songs with faithful renditions, with a little newly added flair here and there.
The production is good, albeit much less polished than the originals and has a live-in-the-studio organic feel, but the harmony vocals are still layers deep. Talking of the tracks recorded, Don't Tell Me You Love Me features a harder hitting drum sound with some extra fills and also a harder edge guitar riff.
Sentimental Street is a little heavier, with a nice update on the guitar solo and Lardie's piano tone is slightly different to that of Alan Fitzgerald's. The guys change the end of the song just a little to be more in line with what they do live which I love.
Four In The Morning features a rawer and more laid back vocal from Jack Blades, who has changed the phrasing of certain words a little.
And Rumors in the Air sounds pretty fresh too. Lardie's keyboards make their presence felt and the guys add a little grunt to the song with some extra guitar fills.
Goodbye closes out the full band re-recordings. I like this new version a lot. Kelly's voice sounds great and has a raw emotional quality.
I also like the way the song closes, with some additional parts added as the song is done live.
On a less positive note, the band's signature hit Sister Christian doesn't sound that great. Here Kelly Keagy is missing that raspy quality to his voice and to be honest it doesn't even sound like him in a couple of places. Sing Me Away is similar although a little better. I'm not sure what vocal effects were used, or whatever reasons the vocal is what it is, but I expect long time fans to complain about this as the result isn't too pleasing to these ears.
The acoustic version of Sister Christian actually features a better, grittier vocal.
The 7 minute plus Don't Tell Me You Love Me is from the band's 2003 Japanese tour and is part of an entire live album and DVD which remains unreleased. Time to get moving on that boys!
The vocal harmonies throughout the album are terrific as they should be. But some of the lead vocals don't have the power of the originals. Some rawer, more emotional performances counter balance that negative.
The Bottom Line
This is an album for absolute Night Ranger die-hards - which includes me. Some will question the merit of this release, but that is just the same case as with any band that chooses to revisit past glories. I haven't witnessed one single album of this kind that didn't meet with mixed reviews. Overall, it's pretty good a band with this much class and experience isn't capable of a duff recording.
Two small complaints to close with - the title really isn't the best - I doubt it would mean much to any potential buyer that wasn't already aware of the information behind it fan or otherwise. I also really would have loved some more tracks than just the 9 full band tracks featured. a 15 track release featuring something from the all too often ignored Big Life and Man In Motion releases would have been better value.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Dawn Patrol
Midnight Madness
Seven Wishes
Big Life
Man In Motion
Feeding Off The Mojo
Neverland
Seven
Hits - Acoustic & Rarities

Line Up:
Jack Blades: Vocals, Bass
Jeff Watson & Brad Gillis: Guitars
Kelly Keagy: Vocals, Drums
Michael Lardie: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
Night Ranger
Kelly Keagy & Jack Blades
Track Listing
Don't Tell Me You Love Me *
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock in America
When You Close Your Eyes *
Sing Me Away
Sentimental Street *
Four In The Morning *
Rumors In The Air
Goodbye *
Sister Christian (Acoustic)
Don't Tell Me You Love Me (Live in Tokyo 2003)
-- *Best Tracks


18/04/07: Herr Mesch - meschhead@gmx.de
Rating: 45
I don't agree with Andrew. The record is not that challenging, in great parts it's even boring, although well crafted. The reason seems to be the direction Jack Blades is taking. His hooklines, his melodies lose quality since "Seven", they did not get better on his solo-album, and they sound quite mediocre now on "Hole in the Sun". The difference gets obvious if you compare, how Kelly Keagy re-invented himself and the melodic rock sound on his "the Mob"-Project, which sounds fresh and lets its roots shine through at the same time. Sorry for NR.

16/03/06: Steve - trebillis@hotmail.com
Rating: 55
Wow, it was tough for me to give this cd a low score being a huge Night Ranger fan. But this cd in my opinion is only for diehards. I don't think the versions are all that different than the originals and that being said I prefer the originals. The title of the cd is misleading and to be real honest with you....you get minimal effort here....meaning if they really wanted to give us hits how come less hits are here than any of the other previously released greatest hits packages. There is one acoustic (previously available) and one rarity (third live version of DTMYLM). To really get something for our money they could've thrown in more hits, acoustics, or rareties. Even a two disc essentials cd would have been more rewarding.

17/02/06: John Elway - megjimp@cableone.net
Rating: 70
I don't see what the point is. Sure these are good songs, but the variations from the originals are minimal. Seems like a waste of money.

15/02/06: 5150 - alexanderbruce@hotmail.com
Rating: 20
I have to disagree with Andrew on this one. The new versions of these classic songs are totally lame. They lack any energy, drive or chemistry. It's Night Ranger going through the motions. Even "Man In Motion" had more spark than these recordings. The guitars are buried in the mix while the keyboards and vocals are pumped up. So the songs sound more like elevator music.
The only song worth a damn is the one live song, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me." So you place this album along side "Big Life" as one of the worst Night Ranger albums. Instead I recommend the 2002 Japanese remasters of the first three albums. They're excellent and hold up well.

15/12/05: Andy - zman@comcast.net
Rating: 88
This is not a Pink Cream 69 covering the Queen song "We will rock you" kind of CD where everything is changed around. This collection of tunes remain very true to the original versions. The songs sound a bit stripped down, almost like they just hit record and played. Night Ranger still rocks, but with a little more "bumph" than the old versions. Hard to believe how long we've been listening to these songs! Still it's worth picking up if you're a N.R fan.

09/12/05: Ed M - Leggyblonde@msn.com
Rating: 90
I love the album! Cannot wait for the new album and DVD to come out. Its amazing how different these songs sound with modern recording equipment. To be honest, I think I like the album because it reminds me of them playing live where they do throw in some acoustic stuff, like the song Goodbye, where they do about 3/4 acoustic then switch to electric guitars. If you ever have a chance to see Night Ranger in concert, please do!! You wont be dissapointed.

04/12/05: Laura S. - laura1865@hotmail.com
Rating: 75
The quality of these re-do's is very good. Not a bad move for NR. I do agree that more rarities were needed. B-sides and/or demos or something. Just seems a trend of "my bands" anymore to do this kind of project...or a covers album. Both are fine, but come on guys...we fans need original quality material! LS

04/12/05: Ross S. - restorey2001@yahoo.com
Rating: 85
I generally agree with Andrew's review concerning the reasons for recording this album. Given that we had a strong Jack Blades release last year and new Shaw/Blades and Night Ranger albums next year, this record seems less of a cash grab than a chance to get the studio chemistry going again and to have a new CD available while touring. These versions have a lot of energy, and unlike "Neverland" and "Seven," both guitarists get to play off their individuality. There is none of the overcompression (and lack of Jeff Watson) that diminished "Seven." Michael Lardie fits in well on keyboards, and the bass and drums both sound great. To my ears, it seems that Kelly Keagy's parts have been either EQ'd too much or recorded in a different key and transposed up. There is a strange quality to some of his higher parts that makes them sound "not quite like him." On the new record, I would prefer they let him sing in his natural, older range. These songs are a great trip down memory lane. However, with space remaining on the CD, I would have liked more "hits" and "rarities." A less computerized "Secret of My Success" would have been nice. "Reason To Be" as an acoustic track. The Japan version of "Forever All Over Again." A rocking remake of "Wild and Innocent Youth" and/or the b-side from "Big Life" would have made this collection better and more essential.


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