Category Archives: Deep Tracks

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – I Will Follow You

I Will Follow You (1985)

The album 7 Wishes is full of irresistible guitar riffs and this song is not exception. It begins with that (now) classic Night Ranger rhythm guitar that compels the listener to continue the journey through the song. At first, this sounds like it is going to be a nice ballad, but the music picks up pace – then slows back down – then picks it up again to climax in yet another perfect guitar solo. The lyrics tell a sad story of a love that has been lost, but in a refreshing twist, it is regained, “And now the rain / Washes the tears from my eyes / And to the end of time I will follow you.” I love the optimistic tone of the final verse, “I see you walking and my heart begins to pound / Like the sound of distant thunder as it echoes to the ground / Well, I’m lost but now I’m found.” It is great to hear a song that takes a typically morose situation and turn it around and give it a hopeful ending.

There you have it, ten songs that are not played very much on any sort of radio or music video station – but they are great songs. If these ten tunes have not convinced you to pursue more music by Night Ranger, then nothing will ever do that. Go ahead, give them a listen- you will not regret it.

Now I will reveal that third cassette that I bought in a panic on my return trip to the U.S. I am not proud of this purchase, but remember I was desperate and the store’s selection left quite a bit to be desired. Now, I did discover two artists that I still love today, Night Ranger and Andy Taylor, but that third one – that third one . . . Ok, here it goes – that third one was Jack Wagner’s third album Don’t Give Up Your Day Job. What can I say, I liked his character from General Hospital, Frisco Jones and I still stand by his biggest hit single “All I Need” from 1984. I thought this album would be OK – I am still trying to forget this unfortunate event.

Next week I am going with my favorite Bon Jovi songs that have never officially been released as singles and, therefore, count as deep tracks.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight

Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight (1982)

This is the fifth track on the first album, Dawn Patrol and helps establish Night Ranger as a serious rock band. It opens with a haunting keyboard that blends into a strong rhythm guitar. The song has a somewhat sparse sound without much filler and a strong solo. Lyrically, the song is basically a character sketch. In the world of literature, a reader is able to analyze a character by identifying indirect character traits. We can tell what a character is like by what they say, how they look, what they do, their thoughts, and what others think about them. While Night Ranger does not hit on all of these, they do use a few to provide a look at Eddie, a slick type who enjoys his night life. Eddie definitely looks the part, “He wears his trousers real tight / And his skin is so white . . . He wears Italian shoes / that are used to good news.” We do learn that his appearance may not represent the truth as he “Lives beyond his means . . . The street’s his type / The alley is where he’s king.” Like most of us, Eddie has a love interest, but she too has a suspicious way about her as she, “Doesn’t care for a halo / She never ever says ‘No’ / She’s so insane.” They spend time together running through the city night and may even be looking for trouble, “They like the late night madness / To break through the silence . . . They say tonight’s the night / They’re gonna cut you to the limits / Tonight you live or you die.” I am not sure what to make of Johnnie other than I do not think we would be close friends. I do think that Eddie will find a way to survive because, “He says he loves the rat race / He always plays to win.” This song foreshadows the potential that Night Ranger has a rock band – only great rock and roll is on the way.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – Hearts Away

Hearts Away (1987)

Yes, you are being presented with two consecutive power ballads, both of which are just as good as “Sister Christian.” Would it be blasphemous of me to say that I like “Hearts Away” as much as, and maybe even a little bit more than that mega hit from 1984? Well, I do and I think you will enjoy it, too. Once again you have the trappings of a classic power ballad – and I love it. Strong keyboards by Fitzgerald play a prominent role in this song and can be heard throughout, sometimes as background and sometimes as a primary instrument. The song has a predictably slow pace, but build and builds to a blistering solo by Gillis – no wait, there are two solos. Just like in “Sister Christian”, Kelly Keagy takes over lead vocal duties. He does have a really good voice for these types of songs- smooth and powerful. Lyrically, the speaker in the song is reminiscing on a lost love, wishing he could somehow get her back: “Hearts away, I cast my heart to some romantic yesterday / When I was on my own / And you were blind to everyone but me / Now today, I throw my heart to some / Forgotten memory, when you were / What was meant for me / A stranger with a place to always be.” Nothing new or earth shattering, but isn’t that what we really like about these power ballads, anyway? There are a finite number of love stories and they are told and retold – this song does so in a powerful way. Despite his yearnings for things to return to the way they used to be, it does not look promising, “And today, I cry myself to sleep each night / I only wish I’d wake up so see you lying next to me / I know I’m sure it’s killing me.” This song is yet another great power(ful) ballad from a decade full of these powerfully emotional songs.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – Halfway to the Sun

We are back for another week of Deep Tracks, courtesy of Robert! This week, we are continuing with Night Ranger. I am so happy that Robert is tackling a song from Man in Motion today. In 1989, I joined the Navy, went to Boot Camp, and had school. After about a month of leave (vacation), I was stationed at my first base – Oakland Naval Hospital. I didn’t have much music with me at the time, so I promptly joined Columbia House, and got 10 CDs for a penny. One of these CDs was Man in Motion. The only song I already knew about was “Restless Kind“. I loved every song on the CD right away, and it became one of my favorite albums.

Now, here is Robert to bring us “Halfway to the Sun”.

I am really hoping you enjoyed the five songs by Night Ranger that I gave you last week. One thing I have noticed about Night Ranger fans is that they are loyal and they fully understand just how many great song the band has recorded. They also recognize that the band is a bit underrated (as Paul noted last week). So saying, I remain with the view that just five song by Night Ranger is not nearly enough. This week I give you part two of Night Ranger’s deep tracks – five more songs that I am convinced will make you a fan of this excellent band’s music.

Halfway to the Sun (1988)

Last week I was not able to get in any songs from the Man in Motion album, so this week I am going to start with two; first up is my favorite rocker from this album. When I discuss songs I really like I have a tendency to fall into hyperbole, so forgive me here. This just may be the perfect rock song: strong rhythm guitar and bass, a catchy as hell chorus, and a dynamite solo played by both Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson. I can still remember the first time I listened to this song. Man in Motion was the second CD I purchased (Survivor’s Too Hot to Sleep was first). While I still had my vinyl and cassettes, I was in love with my new CD player, so I exhausted these first two purchases. When I heard “Halfway to the Sun” (track #6), I had to push the back button four times and listen to it again, and again, and . . . I think you get the point. This may even by one of my favorite songs by Night Ranger (period, exclamation point). Musically, it is just too good to deny or turn off. Lyrically, it is solid enough. I love the opening verse, “Well, I’ve been out there thinking about the night before/ How you held me tight / You kissed me like you’ve never done before / Well, I ain’t no politician / But I sure know what was said / I don’t put much weight on promises / That you made to me while you’re laying in my bed.” All of that leads into that catchy chorus that informs us (and her) that she needs to be careful who she is hanging out with because, “When you step out on your conscience / You step out on the run / You won’t step on me ‘cause I’ll be gone / I’ll be halfway to the sun.” This is an absolutely great song that I would put in my all-time top ten deep tracks.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – The Color of Your Smile

The Color of Your Smile (1987)

R-2848186-1303818856.jpegThis song is my favorite track from Big Life and the first video I watched on Canada’s MTV equivalent Much Music TV. I was visiting a relative in Arkansas who had a satellite television hook up, so I watched a few hours of music videos on this station. This song has that typical Night Ranger beginning: a rising keyboard that leads into a great rhythm guitar. Ironically, original keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald would leave the band after the Big Life album because he felt the band was writing too much guitar driven music. This song has great energy that is infectious and video that is linked here really captures that energetic joy. Of the five songs featured this week, “Color of Your Smile” has my favorite solo. This one features both Gillis and Watson who play sort of dueling solo roles. I am one who really likes well thought out and well written lyrics, but occasionally simple ones work best. Here we just have a man who likes to hang out with a woman. He is intrigued by her looks, but knows that it may not last long, “And I’m aware / Of all the friends you’ve gone through / A situation that convinces me / I’m cool on price / But short on my nights with you.” It just doesn’t matter – for a while anyway, “Never had a tougher situation / Lot of trouble with your reputation / I think, I’ll go and take a well deserved holiday.” Great energy – great song – great week of Night Ranger.

I honestly believe that you fans of ‘80s rock liked what you have heard here this week. I admire Night Ranger for continuing to make high quality music throughout the two decades that have followed their ‘80s heyday. They have released six more albums between 1995 and 2014. I have them all and can honestly say that they have not compromised their musical style one bit. They are still true to their California rock roots – as can be heard in this, their most recent video, the titular song from the from the album High Road released in 2014.

Yes, they are older and the band members have changed a bit, but that core of Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, and Kelly Keagy are still together and still making great music. I am finding it impossible to let the band go with only five deep tracks, so next week I am going to share five more. I may also reveal the third tape I bought that day. I do say MAY because it is a bit embarrassing.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – The Secret of My Success

The Secret of My Success (1987)

If the title reminds you of the sometimes forgotten 1987 film starring Michael J. Fox, it should because it was also a part of the soundtrack as well as being on the Big Life album. The song’s verses do fit the film pretty well. If you remember, Fox played a young man who had just graduated from the University of Kansas and was given a job in his uncle’s company in New York City. The second verse captures the desires of Fox’s ambitious character, “I always said I could make it and be who I am / There’s a new look in sight, what a change for the new modern man / With all this it seems like I’m dying for more / The streets are on fire, never seen it before.” While it does fit the film perfectly, it is also true of the band as well. Achieving any sort of success in the music world is not easy. There are plenty of musicians and singers who have plenty of talent, but no one has heard of them. Any sort of success in this field requires a bit of luck and a ton of hard work. The music is what you have come to expect from Night Ranger: strong guitar work, a steady bass, clean vocals (by Blades and Keagy) and a good solo that is quick and a bit understated in this song. Fitzgerald’s keyboards in this song, though, are memorable, coming with a steady rhythm as well as in quick bursts throughout the song. I love the final lyric in this song, “With nothing to show, just sweat from my soul / My heart’s on the line and I’m dying to go / Look at us now / gonna make it somehow / Hold on to me, baby, can’t hold me down.” – a somewhat inspirational ending to an excellent deep track.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – I Need a Woman

I Need a Woman (1985)

I have always been in love with the first forty seconds of this song. The bass and rhythm guitar are not complicated, but the sound they create is irresistible. All of the band members are at play here, but this rhythm that these two create really make the song. Once again, the solo is fantastic. The lyrics of this song are a bit suggestive but also capture the many things that women do for the men they love (and men need it). The physical needs are clear (and may be a bit overdone), but there are also emotional needs that are necessary, “I need a woman to find a window in my soul / Bring me in from the cold that’s where I’m dying.” If one does not get too hung up on the obvious sexual innuendos, this song can be seen as a declaration of what some men do not want to readily admit: it is very difficult to live without the comforting support of a good woman. And if you like the innuendo – there is that, too.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – Rumours in the Air

Rumours in the Air (1983)

This song captures the same insidious idea of the destructive nature of rumours that can be found in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Take It On the Run” by REO Speedwagon, and the obvious “Rumours” by the Time Social Club. This song begins with nice keyboards by Fitzgerald that build to a steady beat and a second keyboard melody that sustains the beginning of the song. Naturally, then, a strong rhythm guitar kicks in – but those keyboards never really leave. The solo in this song is played by Gillis and is balanced nicely with the strong keyboards. As one would expect, the rumours in the song are in reference to a couple who seem to be on the outs. The speaker has heard a rumor that, “. . . you have a new friend and lover / Who keeps you warm on the cool, cool nights.” Naturally, he does not want to believe that this is true. Instead, he choose to discuss the evil nature of rumours and how destructive they can be. Ultimately he is forced to admit that the rumours are true, “You used to call me by my first name / Now you never even call me at all / Now you say that I’m the one to blame / Doesn’t matter how I feel at all.” So it’s true. Just like in those other songs and stories, rumours are not a good thing and can put a quick end to things that could be a life long positive.

Deep Tracks: Night Ranger – Sing Me Away

Hi Everybody! It is a new week, and time for a new set of Deep Tracks, brought to us by Robert! I am thrilled with this week’s featured artist – Night Ranger. Night Ranger was one of my favorite bands of the ’80s, ever since I first heard “Sister Christian”. They are a very underrated rock band, and have a lot of great songs that have gotten very little, if any, airplay. If you are not all that familiar with Night Ranger’s catalog of music, then you are in for a treat.

(You Can Still) Rock with Night Ranger

Let me take you back all the way to last week. I told you of my situation: leaving Germany to return to the U.S. for college, one walkman – zero tapes. In my rush I bought Andy Taylor’s Thunder – you know about that one. One of the other tapes was Night Ranger’s Big Life. I knew “Sister Christian” and “When You Close Your Eyes”, but I had never heard an album by this band. I am very glad this was one of my pressurized purchases because Night Ranger has become one of my favorite bands. Full disclosure: I have a five-way tie for favorite band – REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi, Journey, Survivor, and Night Ranger – I do not even try to break the tie any more.

The tape I bought, Big Life, was released in 1987, and Night Ranger released a total of five albums in the ‘80s: Dawn Patrol (1982), Midnight Madness (1983), Seven Wishes (1985), and Man in Motion (1988). The first four of these albums all reached the top 40 in album sales with two of them (Midnight Madness and Seven Wishes) achieving platinum status. During this time they had six Top 40 singles with two, “Sister Christian” and “Sentimental Street” reaching the top 10. The original line up that started the first decade of this band was: Jack Blades on bass and vocals, Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson on guitars, Alan Fitzgerald on keyboards, and Kelly Keagy on drums and vocals. Night Ranger is clearly not the most famous or best selling band to come out of the ‘80s, but they did achieve some solid success. While almost every fan of ‘80s music knows the big hits, but many of their great songs, which have survived in their live shows and with their fans, have remained sidelined in relative obscurity to the majority of those general fans. So, once again, I give you five songs from a great band that you may have missed – here are some deep tracks from the California based Night Ranger.

Sing Me Away (1982)

This song was a minor hit in 1982, reaching #54; despite this, I am going to use it as the first deep track. This song begins with a strong rhythm guitar that will become a staple of Night Ranger songs. The two guitarists, Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson are equally solid and play prominent roles in nearly all of the band’s songs. They trade solos among the band’s songs and occasionally both have one in the same song; Watson has the solo in this one. Musically there is a perfect blend of two rhythm guitars, keyboard, and bass. Lyrically, the song captures that old feeling of thinking about that girl we all “once knew as a schoolboy.” Those memories are always idealistic, making that girl feel like a perfect fit. That face from the past is perfect, but he is not with her now, “But I am a long ways away / And I want to be with you today / I’ll think of a way I can get back.” Does this mean that he is unhappy now? I’m not sure, but he is doing what many of us do – remembering the past and trying to think of ways to get it back. Honestly, isn’t that what most of us are doing? I know that I am every time I write for Return to the ‘80s. “Sing Me Away” is a steady rock song that is a great representation of the type of music Night Ranger will produce for the rest of the decade.

Deep Tracks: Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor – Bringing Me Down

Well, we come to the conclusion of another great week of music, brought to us by Robert. I can’t believe I had never heard any of these songs before. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I have. Andy Taylor is an incredible rock guitarist, and probably one of the most underrated. So, let’s listen to one last great song by him. And thanks, Robert, for continuing this great series.

Bringing Me Down

I have spoiled myself and saved my favorite song from Thunder for last. I always felt that this would have made a great single, but I do understand the radio friendly releases from this album and the soundtracks Taylor is featured on. All of the things I like are here: quiet guitar and bass intro that explode into a full band and catchy, song sustaining rhythm, a killer chorus, and a great solo. Once again, there are pretty simple lyrics about a man yearning for a woman who seems to be in love with someone else: “It’s time to go but I can’t stop / ‘Cause I can’t find which way to go / You’re tearin’ me, me apart /With twisted love, ain’t no doubt.” Insert the catch chorus here. I love the phrasing that Taylor uses here, “I can’t help it that you’re in love / I know you’re wrapped around / But you are bringing me down.”
The song continues, “Why don’t you spend some time with me / It’s hard to talk but time to walk / Into my lonely emptiness / And time to find a place to rest.” This song is the one that I returning to more often than not from this album. Great stuff!

Thunder is an absolute masterpiece of 80s pop/rock, but many have never heard of it. I like Duran Duran, but after spending (a lot) of time with Thunder it becomes clear that the band never really let Andy Taylor soar and do his thing. Taylor is an excellent guitarist who was in a great band, but not a guitar driven band. His solo work deserves to be heard by every fan of the ‘80s. If you are not familiar with his music, take some time a find his stuff on Youtube – I promise you will like it.

This discussion of Andy Taylor has conjured up memories of one of the other tapes I bought in a fevered rush before the airplane took off – next week: Night Ranger.