Perhaps fooled into thinking they are still relevant because their signature tune Sister Christian was included on the Boogie Nights soundtrack, 1980s' ballad rockers Night Ranger, which broke up in 1989, has regrouped.
Everybody's back, including lead vocalist/bassist Jack Blades, who spent the early '90s in pop/metal supergroup Damn Yankees.
And the results are fairly predictable -- Seven sounds like a slickly produced, commercial hard rock album from 10 years ago. Interestingly, press materials say Night Ranger members "have not tried to 'update' their sound to fit into the passing trends of any era."
That's quite apparent on Seven.
All the trademarks are here: wailing high-pitched guitar solos, layers of background vocals, change of pace ballads.
The only new weapons in Night Ranger's arsenal appear to be acoustic guitars and extra percussion instruments.
Here's the really sad part -- several of the 11 new tracks include some interesting guitar riffs and grooves, but every progressive step is ultimately ruined by banal choruses, no-brain lyrics and unnecessary macho guitar heroism.
You Can Still Rock in America, but will anyone listen?
-- Kent Kimes, Staff Writer
On hiatus from his two bands, Styx and the aforementioned Damn Yankees, guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw is back with a new album of bland stadium rock.
Guest players include Damn Yankees mates Ted Nugent and Jack Blades, Collective Soul's Ed Roland and bluegrass crooner Alison Krauss -- but they don't really help transform 7 Seven Deadly Zens into a memorable listening experience.
It's as if you've heard this collection of 13 new songs before.
For instance, the opening riffs on What Do You Want From Life rips off Steve Miller's Abracadabra, and most of the rest could easily pass as a Damn Yankees record.
The exception is the acoustic-tinged Half a Mind, on which Ms. Krauss duets with Mr. Shaw. But the parts she sings easily outshine his classic rock yodeling. It's a wonder she got roped into this project.
-- Kent Kimes
To hear excerpts from these CDs, call INFOLINE at 442-4444.
To hear part of the Night Ranger song Mother Mayhem from the CD Seven, dial 8102.
To hear part of the Tommy Shaw song What Do You Want From Life from the CD 7 Deadly Zens, dial 8103.
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