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Night Ranger

If you're reading this hoping for some postmodern exegesis on early '80s hard rock or some guilty-pleasure about "Sister Christian," read no further. Night Ranger never pretended to be anything more than a melodic hard-rock band, so there's no point in pretending otherwise. But, as San Francisco's best practitioners of a very particular sound — that same sound Loverboy was producing in Canada and Bon Jovi in Jersey — they certainly succeeded quite well. Sure, the music from their best record (1982's debut disc, Dawn Patrol) hasn't aged all that gracefully; the tinny, superfluous keyboard lines and upfront, four-on-the-floor drumming date the tunes mercilessly. But date-markers aside, the tunes are still catchy, and the guitar lines — especially on cuts like "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" — are surprisingly chunky. Even on the album that contained "Sister Christian" (Midnight Madness), Night Ranger got in a couple of sturdy, singalong rockers. Amazingly, though, they were regarded as lightweights in a somewhat lightweight scene, the band has managed to persevere for more than a quarter-century with various lineups, thanks mainly to the irrefutable lighter-ballad power of "Sister Christian." Don't try to revise history to make them seem more substantial than they were; just enjoy the songs in all their insipid goodness.

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Jason Ferguson

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