F U L L . R E V I E W S
One look at the album cover for the aptly titled "Rock 'N Roll Ride" is like looking at a scrap book of Jack Blades career, LPs and badges that have adorned Blades' past since the 70s. While most remember the bassist/singer/songwriter for his mainline gig with Night Ranger (mostly 80's anthem "Sister Christian"), the California native has achieved success across the board with a variety of musical outlets and projects. Blades teamed with Ted Nugent to form Damn Yankees, released a critically acclaimed joint venture with Styx frontman Tommy Shaw as well as producing big names ranging from Great White to Vince Neil, even appearing in dozens of writing credits with the likes of Aerosmith, Ringo and Cher.
"Rock 'N Roll Ride" is Blades' second solo album to date and the first for current Night Ranger label Frontiers. It is a great pairing as Frontiers continues to show they are the best in the industry when it comes to 80s talent. They continue to make bands like Dokken, Whitesnake and Winger just as relevant today as they were in the 80s (at least in the hard rock circles). Blades produces this album and gains some help from colleagues and peers; Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger) on drums, Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger) on guitar and a few notable guests along the way.
This record proves that Blades and company are still hot and marketable today. No one understands the big chorus like Jack and he nails these numbers, a bulk of them more up tempo and hard rocking than previous efforts. You could see his recent global tour with the likes of Foreigner and Styx as an impression on the sound, even the last Night Ranger album "Growing Up In California" as a major contribution to the overall vibe of this solo album.
I came for the hard rockers and Blades delivers some classic material here. The band's leadoff single (and video) "Back In The Game" is the perfect curtain jerker, a great riff backed by the most sing-along chorus on the record. Check out the introspective title track and a riff that is similar to Nuge, a great pen that details Blades mentality early on to never grow old and just rock and roll forever. Night Ranger bandmate Brad Gillis delivers a blazing riff on "Say You Will" and Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander steps up for the effective Beatles-esque "Anything For You". Speaking of Beatles, the chorus of "West Hollywood" is a dead ringer for British rock.
Those of you familiar enough with Blades understands he is a "never say die" character, showing off tons of positive influence on "Love Life" (similar to "Growing Up...") and "Don't Give Up". The absolute best track on the record is the courageous "Born For This", an April Wine/Boston sort of melodic hook wrapped around positive everyday heroes. Blades is very proud of a ballad present here called "Hardest Word To Say" and it's big power-pomp chorus that is so close to his work with Tommy Shaw.
This may weigh in as my favorite album of the year. Blades is just on fire here and after thirty-five years in the business he never grows old. His work is still timeless and his soul stirring visions on life, love and the everyday workings of man is still an essential piece of hard rock history. A rock 'n roll ride...Hell yeah!
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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