Frontiers Records (2012)
Who says good time, fun loving hard rock is dead? Not the veterans of the scene who made the movement a commercial success during the 1980’s. Jack Blades has been fortunate to be a part of two successful bands to receive big time sell out arena success- as well as platinum sales in North America and abroad- for Night Ranger in the 1980’s and Damn Yankees during the early 1990’s. Taking a detour from Night Ranger, this solo outing “Rock N Roll Ride” features contributions from fellow NR bandmates Kelly Keagy, Brad Gillis, Joel Hoekstra, and Eric Levy, as well as a special guest vocal appearance from Robin Zander (Cheap Trick).
Overall this record reflects a bassist, singer and songwriter comfortable with where life is at in 2012, not attempting to veer far from his comfort zone while delivering some potent songwriting and easy to handle hooks both vocally and musically. The main riff of the title track for instance has a three part sequence that Hole fans circa “Celebrity Skin” can relate to, although Jack’s sarcastic lyric output puts the song fresh in his own way. He tackles the half acoustic, half electric ballad “Hardest Word To Say” with equal tenderness and passion, the verses more in a country/ southern rock vein while the chorus is straight arena rock ready. Then the up tempo tracks that possess the familiar West Coast, cruising the highway mindset like “Love Life” and “Say You Will” (the latter with a crunchy, Aldo Nova vibe) are immediate impact songs, sure to go down a storm with all Night Ranger or Damn Yankees fans.
By the time the album finishes with the 70’s-like “Hey Now” where Jack channels equal parts Paul Rodgers and Rod Stewart, most will be circling back to the first cut for another repeat experience. “Rock N Roll Ride” lives up to my expectations, as Jack remains a consummate artist who knows how to simply write great melodic hard rock. Placing the emphasis on straight ahead playing with little to no computer effect enhancement, Jack Blades latest solo album should be a blind must buy for all his longtime compatriots.
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe