Unlike a lot of Night Ranger fans, I didn't become a fan back in 1982 after
hearing "Don't Tell Me You Love Me". I didn't have a clue who they were back
then. Becoming a fan took me another 15 years. I became a fan of the band
listening to them in concert (while watching Jack) on June 20, 1997. But let
me start at the beginning. For me, it started with "Rumours In The Air". I
really liked that song, and it turned me on to Jack Blades. However, I had a
one track mind back then when it came to Night Ranger. I liked Jack. Though
not the only reason for my focus on Jack, part of it was because of his role
as songwriter. For me, it starts with the songs. (If you're wondering what
about their big hit "Sister Christian", well, I hated that song back
Then along came 1989. Now, back in 1982, when many Night Ranger fans were discovering the band with their first album, I discovered my sister's Styx albums. And along with becoming a Styx fan I became a major Tommy Shaw fan. When I heard about Tommy and Jack being together in Damn Yankees, I was thrilled! Tommy and Jack together seemed totally awesome to me! (It didn't even occur to me to think about the status of Night Ranger.) It was a thrill to have the opportunity to see Damn Yankees live in concert!
In the spring of 1997, I decided I wanted to see a concert at Sandstone Amphitheatre (Bonner Springs, KS; Kansas City area). I looked at the schedule, and I saw REO Speedwagon with Night Ranger and Shooting Star. I thought that looked promising. But, since I hadn't been following REO for the past several years, and since I hadn't a clue what happened to Night Ranger when Jack formed Damn Yankees, I checked on the Web to find out the current lineups. If Kevin Cronin and Jack Blades weren't in their respective bands, then I wasn't interested. They both were, so I bought my tickets.
Since I was going to see them in concert, I got out one of my Night Ranger albums to listen to (I had 3, and hadn't paid full price for any of them). I was less than impressed. (I've since come to realize that the album I picked, 7 Wishes, is my least favorite Night Ranger album). However, I figured if Jack had rejoined Night Ranger, they had to be good. Plus, I read good things about the Japanese version of Neverland on the Web.
Now, as the concert date approached, I was looking forward to seeing Jack Blades, but I was mostly focused on REO, who had become my favorite band after I bought their latest CD. At the concert venue, I looked at all the REO merchandise, but barely even noticed the Night Ranger stuff. When Night Ranger came out on stage, my first impression was that they were ugly (Jack excluded). Luckily, I don't judge a band on their looks. Not these days, anyway. I had a much better impression of their music. They were great! I was very impressed with Night Ranger. I remember thinking they should do a live album. It's was that evening that I began to become a fan of the whole band. It took me a little longer to commit to being a Night Ranger fan, however.
At the same time that I looked up Night Ranger and REO Speedwagon on the Web, I also looked up Tommy Shaw, and I soon found myself on the Styx mailing list. When Neverland came out in the States, I read several people complimenting the album with high praise. Trusting the opinions of my fellow Styx fans, I realized it was definitely a must have album. However, for reasons I won't go into, I did not get the album right away. During this period I was listening to Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades a lot, but I hadn't gone back and listened to any of my Night Ranger albums. Well, one day in September, I went to my cassettes to get out Damn Yankees and somehow wound up with Night Ranger's Big Life instead. I decided, what the heck, I'll give it a listen. I was very impressed. This band was good! I realized then that Jack wasn't the only thing to like about Night Ranger. This was a band with 5 talented individuals. I was especially impressed with the guitar work. Jeff and Brad are great!
On October 1st I finally bought Neverland. I loved it! I had very high expectations for the album because of how good they were in concert and because of what I'd read about the album. It lived up to those high expectations and then some. I felt like this was the album I'd been waiting for half my life. It fulfilled something inside me. I listened to it over and over and it became my second favorite all time album (behind Styx's Paradise Theatre). After falling in love with Neverland, there was no turning back. I am now thoroughly a Night Ranger fan and they are one of my 2 favorite bands. Night Ranger are awesome!
- Ellen Kozisek