Night Ranger will bring 1984 back to the present
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:39
by Bill Gates

    It’s July of 1984, you’re 22 years old and helplessly enmeshed in your first glorious summer romance.
    She lifeguards at some Towson apartment complex pool, and that’s where you are now, lounging on the deck and admiring her toned, tanned body in a one-piece swimsuit while a song by the band Night Ranger comes over the radio:
    “When you close your eyes, do you dream about me/when you go to sleep at night, do you dream about me?”
    And you ask her, “Well, do you?” because you’re 22 and in love and in the moment, and she smiles and says “Yes,” and, yeah, the two of you are alone at the pool so no one is in danger from collateral sappiness.
    (Hey, 30 years from now, let’s see if anyone recalls a romantic moment inspired by Miley Cyrus’ latest piece of tripe.)
    Of course, if you take the time to listen to the lyrics, “When You Close Your Eyes” it is about a failed relationship:
    “It coulda been done in a different kind of way/But that ain’t you, you play tough when you play/It’s over now, I bet you still think about me.”
    Which could be why the lifeguard eventually broke your heart.
    Ah, it could have been worse. It could have been 1983, when guys would call up radio stations and dedicate “Every Breath You Take” to their girlfriends, which should have been grounds not only for a breakup, but for a restraining order.
(On the other hand, the really big hit of July 1984 was Prince’s “When Doves Cry”: “How could you just leave me standing/along in a world that’s so cold?”)
    Night Ranger, which will perform at the Dundalk Heritage Fair on Saturday at 8 p.m. on the main stage, had their biggest hit (as per the Billboard charts) the previous month, June 1984, with “Sister Christian.”
    The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the charts for 24 weeks.
    It reached No. 2 on the rock charts, No. 1 in Canada and was ranked 32nd on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 1980s.
    For all that, it was one odd song. A ballad from a hard rock band, sung by the band’s drummer to his younger sister encouraging her to, well, not live the type of life usually championed in rock music.
    In interviews, band members said they delayed releasing the song because of a fear they would lose their hard rock cred.
    Then again, it could be argued that song is why the band is still recording and touring, 30 years later.
    Night Ranger got its start in 1980, formed from the remnants of a band named Rubicon.
    They first called themselves Stereo, then adopted the name Ranger.
    When a country band, The Rangers, threatened legal action, the band changed its name to Night Ranger in 1982.
    Three of the original members were holdovers from Rubicon: bassist Jack Blade, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis.
    They added keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald and a second guitarist, Jeff Watson.
    Three of those original members will be performing at the Heritage Fair: Blades, Keagy and Gillis. Fitzgerald left in 2003 and Watson in 2007.
    The “new” members are Eric Levy (keyboardist, backup vocals) who joined in 2011, and Joel Hoek-stra (lead and rhythm guitar, backup vocals), who joined in 2008.
    Night Ranger’s first three albums, Dawn Patrol (1982), Midnight Madness (1983) and Seven Wishes (1985) all achieved RIAA Platinum status.
    Midnight Madness reached No. 15 on the Billboard Charts, while Seven Wishes reached No. 10.
    But 1987’s Big Life, despite reaching No. 28, settled for RIAA Gold status; 1988’s Man in Motion didn’t even make gold and peaked at No. 81.
    Night Ranger has released six studio albums since then (including the just-released High Road), but only 2011’s Somewhere in California cracked the Billboard top 200 (No. 179).
    “Sister Christian” remains the band’s biggest solo hit, although 1985’s “Sentimental Street” reached No. 8 on the Hot 100 and No. 3 on the rock charts.
    Night Ranger had two more Top 20 hits in 1985.
    The band briefly broke up in 1989, only to reform in 1991 behind Keagy and Gillis, with new members Gary Moon (bassist, vocals) and David Zaijcek (keyboard).
    Blades returned to the band in 1996, and eventually all five original members recorded two new albums: Neverland (1997) and Seven (1998).
    In its original incarnation, the band performed the title song to the Michael J. Fox movie The Secret of My Success.
    But, hey, no one’s holding that against them.