Dawn Patrol

Night Ranger

Boardwalk Records, 1982

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/03/2000

Mention the name Night Ranger, and anyone who was in grade or high school in the '80s is going to conjure up memories of the song "Sister Christian" -- as well as the video for that track. It was the era of the power-rock ballad, and "Sister Christian" epitomized the genre, along with that weak nonsense that Chicago was pumping out at the time.

Needless to say, I don't consider it to be a high point in the music scene. One might wonder why I'd even want to go back to those days and review albums from that genre. Well, one reason was simple enough: I won a bunch of Night Ranger tapes in an eBay auction, and the price was right. (Hey, may as well be honest about it.)

But the more I listened to Dawn Patrol, Night Ranger's 1982 debut, I kept asking myself, "Is this the same band that produced 'Sister Christian'?" Fact is, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dawn Patrol is a surprisingly strong album that, nearly two decades after its release, is still an enjoyable album that doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

Sure, this album spawned "Don't Tell Me You Love Me," the first hit for Night Ranger -- vocalist/bassist Jack Blades, vocalist/drummer Kelly Keagy, guitarist/vocalist Brad Gillis, guitarist Jeff Watson and keyboardist/vocalist Alan Gerald. But while this track helped lead the band on the road to superstardom, this isn't the strongest track.

In that department, I'm torn between the two tracks that follow "Don't Tell Me You Love Me." "Sing Me Away" mixes both the aspects of harder-edged rock and ballad-like harmony vocals, creating a track whose power is unstoppable. Why this one never made it as a single I'll never understand. The other track, "At Night She Sleeps," has the musical and vocal hooks that keep you interested from start to finish.

One other track that has that kind of hook-power is "Eddie's Comin' Out Tonight," a song that dares to throw a little funk into the mix, as well as a sly lyric style that you might not expect from Night Ranger. This is the kind of track that I'd love to slap on the radio to pleasantly shock people used to hearing the same pabulum over and over again.

If there's a negative to Dawn Patrol, it's that Night Ranger can't maintain that level of excellence throughout the album. While songs such as "Young Girl In Love" and "Play Rough" are enjoyable, they don't hold the listener's interest in the same way that the first half of the album does. The album's closer "Night Ranger" helps to bring things together into a neat little package.

So why is Dawn Patrol such an enjoyable listen? Simple: it's the kind of disc that comes out of the blue and catches you with catchy harmonies and powerful songwriting that you wouldn't expect, especially if all you know of the band is "Sister Christian". (Actually, the more I listen to Night Ranger, the more I realize that they're really more like Dawn Patrol than "Sister Christian." So there.)

Oh, sure, you could take the easy way out and grab one of the compilation albums, but why not take a risk and pick up Dawn Patrol and give it a spin? Chances are, you'll be wondering why you've let this one collect dust all these years.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Boardwalk Records, and is used for informational purposes only.