We were just discussing this album recently â€” I can’t remember if it was out here or in the Back Room (accepting subscribers soon!) â€” and since I’ll latch onto pretty much any excuse to talk about my deep, sincere love for the music of Night Ranger, today we’re gonna rock out, cutout style.
Even if you consider yourself a Night Ranger fan, you may never have heard of Man in Motion. It peaked somewhere around the high 100s on the Billboard album chart, and its sole charting single, “I Did It For Love” (download), petered out on the extreme lower rungs of the Hot 100. This had a lot to do with nobody caring about Night Ranger anymore â€” their previous release, 1987’s Big Life, was almost as big of a stiff as Motion â€” but it also reflected the gross ineptitude that was the order of the day at MCA Records in the late ’80s. They didn’t call it the Music Cemetery of America for nothin’.
Things weren’t looking up for Night Ranger in 1988. Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, they had also lost the services of longtime keyboardist/inexplicable scrubs wearer Alan Fitzgerald. His departure didn’t mean much in terms of the band’s songwriting, which had always been dominated by singing drummer Kelly Keagy and singing bass player Jack Blades, but shifts in the ranks tend to signal trouble, and so it was with the band â€” after limping through a sparsely attended co-headlining tour with Kansas(!), Night Ranger called it quits in 1989.
Within the context of Man in Motion, Fitzgerald’s departure actually made sense; the album doesn’t contain a whole lot of keyboards, and mostly focuses on impeccably coifed stainless steel rockers like “Love Shot Me Down” (download) and the title track (download). There are ballads, sure â€” the shoulda-been-a-hit “Restless Kind” (download) chief among them â€” but overall, it’s a step back from the David Foster gloss of Big Life. This is a good thing.
(In a tip of the hat to Tim R., our resident Michael Bolton defender, I should point out that this album contains a Bolton co-write, “Here She Comes Again” (download), and it does not suck.)
Anyway, as I said, it didn’t matter; by the spring of 1990, Jack Blades was a Damn Yankee, and though Night Ranger eventually returned to action in the late ’90s, Man in Motion has remained forgotten in the dustbin. Tsk, tsk, I say; Motion is my favorite of the band’s albums. But I still wouldn’t pay $40 for a sealed copy, and neither should you. Get to downloading, friends, and rock on with your bad selves â€” I’ll meet you in the parking lot after work for a cold Schlitz or two.