Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol (1982)
Another week and another album on YDCS! We’re taking a foray into the 1980s today with the debut album from Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol. This act out of California was best known for some of the biggest rock hits of the 80s in “Sister Christian,” and the first song on this album, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” featuring a heavy rock sound that was anthemic at the time but trended towards mainstream at the end of the decade. By the end of the 80s, a host of acts that included Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Ratt, Winger, and Bon Jovi.
Like a lot of people, I was only really familiar with the band’s biggest hits like the ones previously mentioned, “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “When You Close Your Eyes.” I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised to find that Dawn Patrol features that exact same heavy rock sound throughout the album. I dislike when albums feature the same sound across every song. If a song is meant to be a single act or story I understand it and actually like it, but when every song is about something different and sounds exactly the same as the one before it, I have about a two-song tolerance for that before I start getting irritated. My chief complaint with Dawn Patrol is that it falls into this trap. It has a few good songs on it, but the ordering and large amount of filler ends up hurting the album as a whole. There are still some bright spots and the self-titled song “Night Ranger” was a pleasant surprise, but the album left some to be desired. Let me know what you think!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me: “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was born destined to be a big hit and nails all the marks for a power rock track. Big guitars, big harmonies, big solos, and generally insubstantial lyrics. I enjoy this song a lot, but like most of the songs on the album, I would classify them as ‘fun’ not ‘good’ from a musical standpoint. Many of the songs don’t display much musicianship and play to man’s more base listening preferences. Having said that, this track does it so well that it almost crosses the line from ‘fun’ to ‘good,’ and that takes chops. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Sing Me Away: I like that this second song on the album, while decidedly more downtempo than the first, feels more technical than the first. The chorus is a joy to listen to and I enjoy the vocal harmony that the band uses here; it gives the song more depth and makes it more interesting. Not a bad one! Dad’s Rating 6/10
At Night She Sleeps: Unusually, I don’t have any strong opinions about a song. “At Night She Sleeps” just sounds like any other power rock song from the early 80s. It’s not particularly special and easily forgettable. This is a hallmark of album filler. It’s not bad, just neutral. Dad’s Rating 5/10
Call My Name: As power ballads go, this is a pretty good one! The buildups through the verses are adequate and the choruses are loud and passionate. I wish that there was more energy behind the song though. Everything feels a little flat and forced in a way. A power ballad should inspire you and make you want to cry and rock out at the same time. While “Call My Name” hits the marks from a technical perspective, it’s the passion that’s lacking. Dad’s Rating 6/10
Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight: I will give “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” credit for one thing and that’s making me remember “He like to rock, he like to roll,” and having that stuck in my head. Otherwise, I find the lead vocals grating on this track and there’s not enough interesting instrumentation to hold my attention. It’s on this point in the album when all of the power rock starts to blend together into something that resembles the soundtrack from Heavy Metal. Dad’s Rating 5/10
Can’t Find Me A Thrill: “Can’t Find Me A Thrill” suffers from the same problem that we’ve been running into up to this point, it sounds exactly like the rest of the album and there’s no break or identifying features that make it stand out. If you’ve been listening along, you could skip this song at this point and not be any worse for wear. Dad’s Rating 4/10
Young Girl In Love: I was hopeful that “Young Girl In Love” would bring something new to the table. A ballad, an instrument that isn’t a guitar playing power chords, anything. I was disappointed. The sparks of hope here are that there can only be so much power metal on three more songs on the album and the vocal harmonies on the chorus break up the song the tiniest smidgen. Dad’s Rating 5/10
Play Rough: A BREAK FROM POWER CHORDS!! Nevermind…Dad’s Rating 3/10
Penny: I actually like “Penny!” Where a lot of the songs on the album could be classified as filler material, “Penny” feels like a well-planned out song from the beginning. In the first few seconds I sensed more musicality here than I had on a lot of the songs from that short guitar solo, and it actually reminded me of songs similar to what Duran Duran or Def Leppard would record. This is power rock done right. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Night Ranger: We’re finishing the album with something that sounds different! The syncopated melody and keyboard melody that appears throughout the track helps break this song up from the other songs on the album. The transition to a pseudo-speed metal track towards the end is a fun little twist and interesting way to end the album too. It might be a little while before I take on another power rock album, but this has been an interesting experiment to see where Night Ranger came from and what else they were capable of on their first album.
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