Jack Blades Jack Blades Frontiers Records
Produced By: Jack Blades

Running Time: 45.23

Release Date: February 23

Released: EU

Musical Style: Melodic Rock

Links: Frontiers
Songs: 80%
Sound: 84%
Jack Blades is one of my all time favourite artists and even more importantly, is regarded one of the best songwriters in the game. Night Ranger's albums are all regarded as personal favourites, as is the debut Damn Yankees album. Then there's the also impressive Shaw/Blades album, the second Damn Yankees and Jack's work with other artists including Alice Cooper, Journey, Aerosmith and Great White. Quite a resume already, but not content with that, Jack thought a solo album was well overdue and this is the result.
Joining Jack on the album is fellow Night Ranger buddies Kelly Keagy, Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson, along with Tommy Shaw, Neal Schon, Damon Johnson, Michael Lardie, Warren De Martini and of course, son Colin Blades.
Guitarist Sam Eigen is however the backbone of the album. With Sam on guitars and Kelly Keagy on drums throughout most of the album, the remaining players all fill guest roles. Neal Schon plays lead guitar on Sea Of Emotions and To Tough The Sky.
Jack's album is a highly anticipated release for the melodic music community.
In recent years, Jack has varied his style of writing to cover not only classic hard rock and AOR, but also modern and acoustic pop.
So it was with some interest that we all waited on news of what direction this solo album would take.
The answer is the songs on Jack Blades are not restricted to any one style.
Over the course of the 11 tracks, Jack touches on all past styles covered and even adds a couple of new flavors. This makes for a varied and interesting listen and I think the album is compiled quite well it does have a natural flow. But that doesn't mean fans are going to like each and every track which for me was the main disappointment of the album. I was anticipating every track being another JB classic and that just isn't the case.
I must say that I have had to work really hard on getting to like this album, which in itself was a surprise. This album is a grower and really does require a lot of listening.
It's more laid back than I anticipated, with several tracks along the Shaw/Blades style.
But then it's also heavier than anticipated in other areas, with 4 tracks leaning towards a modern rock vibe.
The production is sound, but it's not as high-tech as previous releases such as Night Ranger and Damn Yankees. But then again, this album isn't recorded with the budget those major label releases were recorded with.
Track By Track:
Opening the album in the best possible way is the pure melodic rock anthem Sea of Emotions. The track was written by Blades with Neal Schon. The track was originally planned for inclusion on Journey's Arrival album, but is thankfully aired here. The style is such you can easily imagine Steve Augeri signing it. The track is an up-tempo feel good melodic rocker that also features a lead vocal by Kelly Keagy during one bridge.
Shine On and We Are The Ones are the two tracks included on the album that were originally recorded for the ditched third Damn Yankees album.
Shine On features a dual lead vocal between Jack and Tommy Shaw. The song itself is an uptempo modern rocker, with a dark and heavy tone. The track doesn't really match anything Damn Yankees have recorded before, nor Jack for that matter. The verse is something different - a spoken rap of sorts, with a sparse arrangement which leads into a heavy and bombastic chorus filled with tuned down guitars. The chorus hook is relatively short and takes some time to grow on you, but surely does.
We Are The Ones is also moody and heavy and features the same dark guitar tones. The verse has an aggressive edge and is again influenced by modern trends. The song builds to the chorus, which unfortunately is not a highlight of the Blades repertoire.
Many Blades fans might find this track too modern for their tastes and indicates why the third Damn Yankees album would have been so different from the first two.
Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight is a much more melodic friendly track and one that will be a crowd pleaser. The Schon/Blades composition is a direct about face from the tracks before it. This is a stripped back acoustic driven ballad with a memorable chorus and an updated feel to it, but one that suits the vibe of the song. Sometimes You Gotta Have Faith is another acoustic driven track - this one more in a breezy pop vein than the ballad before it. This is another track with a modern Beatlesque vibe, but remains in touch with the style that was the Shaw/Blades album. Add a catchy chorus and the song becomes an album highlight.
To Touch The Sky is another Schon/Blades composition and another track that was earmarked for the Arrival album. And just as with the opening track, this has Journey stamped all over it. The melodic rocker features several layers of vocals and hooks not to mention an extended bridge and chorus arrangement. It takes a few listens to get to hear everything that is going on, but is a gem of a track. More tracks like this might have been cool.
Who You Want To Be sees the album head back into modern rock territory. Starting out as an acoustic Night Ranger style pop song, the chorus bursts through with that tuned down guitar sound again and a Sunshine Of Your Love style retro vibe. Not a band track, but lacking that hit factor so many of Jack's songs have.
Someday has that Shaw/Blades vibe. It features a strong acoustic sound and layered harmony vocals in the style of that album. Basically it's an enjoyable, breezy pop rocker.
The laid back acoustic driven ballad Breaking It Down has a definite Beatles retro pop vibe and sounds as if it could have been lifted from son Colin's debut album. Funnily enough, the song was a result of the pair writing together.
Time for another complete turn around in style. On Top of The World is a heavy, slow moving modern rocker that features a chorus that sadly isn't very catchy. If anything, you will dig the vibe of the song as a whole, but for me, this is not a track I warmed to.
The most interesting aspect of the track is that the line up also features Kelly Keagy, Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson, but sounds nothing like Night Ranger!
Nature's Way is an acoustic cover of the tune by 70's prog-rock act Spirit, from their 1970 album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. It's another laid back Shaw/Blades style track that some fans will love and others won't.
I think its ok, but not an album highlight and a rather soft way to close the album.
The Bottom Line
Jack Blades has recorded an interesting debut that showcases his versatility as a songwriter and a performer. His ease at moving between acoustic pop and modern rock is testament to his talent, but I do question whether some fans will want to take that voyage with him. Clearly Jack has made the record he wanted to make and it's up to the individual listener what they take from it.
The album is solid without doubt, but isn't the anthem packed classic it could have been. On a positive note, the album contains a few real gems that all JB fans will enjoy.
The styles are so varied, on occasions it's obvious the album is taken from different sessions.
But those that appreciate a little variety in their music and prefer something that isn't as predictable, nor safe, will find a lot to like within this set of songs.
Previous Projects
Night Ranger
Damn Yankees

Line Up
Jack Blades: Vocals, Bass
Sam Eigen, Neal Scon, Tommy Shaw, Damon Johnson, Brad Gillis, Jeff Watson, Michael Lardie: Guitar
Kelly Keagy, Michael Cartellone, Aaron Haggerty: Drums
Jack & Colin Blades, Tommy Shaw, Damnon Johnson: Backing Vocals
Michael Lardie: Keyboards

Essential for fans of:
Night Ranger
Damn Yankees
Track Listing
Sea of Emotions*
Shine On
We Are The Ones
Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight*
Sometimes You Gotta Have Faith*
To Touch The Sky*
Who You Want To Be
Breaking It Down
On Top of The World
Nature's Way
--*Best Tracks

19/10/04: pat langan -
Rating: 100
Excellent in every way. Don't care if it doesn't have that overall "Night Ranger" feel to it. I judged it on a song-per-song basis and really liked all the songs, some a little better than others. I would recommend this.

29/07/04: Ian -
Rating: 50
I was looking forward to this but was disappointed.I was hoping for a Nightranger style album but realised it was a solo cd,where he tried something different.A rating of 50 because it is Jack Blades,but a weak cd in my opinion.

24/06/04: Guillermo -
Rating: 35
No malgastes tu dinero comprando esto escucha cualquier otra cosa incluyendo a Veronica de Operacion Triunfo

27/05/04: chewsmoka -
Rating: 35
My first thought hearing this CD is that Jack was trying to hard to mix old with the new. Trying to daydream he was still in Damn Yankees.Trying to make his CD better that Kelly's rockin one.Sorry, this is as flat as an opened week old Coke.
The only tracks that saves it from total disaster is Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight, just download that and save your money.

20/05/04: Nicodim -
Rating: 90
After all I like it! It's neither Damn Yankees nor Night Ranger. Just a solo project of great composer & vocalist. We don't need 2 expect somethin' tremendous from solo albums. It's often just an air-vent for the musicians - an endeavour 2 show 2 their fans an own internal influences. Now we got successful attempt from Jack.

23/04/04: jon fletcher -
Rating: 100
I'll keep my comment simple! I LOVE THIS ALBUM! Great variety. I am doing a cd myself, and I have variety. Solo albums should always be different than what the fans are used to! GREAT ALBUM START TO FINISH!

06/04/04: Craig Bishop -
Rating: 30
I loved the Shaw/Blades album and when I heard Jack was doing a solo album in that vein I was a little excited. Boy, was I disappointed! This is nothing like Shaw/Blades. That had a country-rock blend to it with some great songwriting. This is just plain awful pop. Should have just released a single with the two tracks SEA OF EMOTIONS and TO TOUCH THE SKY on it and I would be a happier man. Jack needs to go back and do what he does best - ROCK! God help the next NR album if he's writing shite like this!

16/03/04: R. S. -
Rating: 85
I liked this one. I'm glad Jack didn't make this a Night-Ranger-without-the-others CD. If he had, it would have been better to just record with the band. This is a different side of his music, and the diversity of material is appreciated. Like many of the Night Ranger albums, the hooks don't always sink in immediately, but the albums grows with you over time. I enjoy the production - even the more modern-sounding tracks. This is a more consistent record than was Kelly Keagy's - even though Kelly's album had a few more high points. Most Blades fans will like this record if they give it a few listens to allow the music to grow on them.

15/03/04: Mel Wilson -
Rating: 80
Been a NR,DY,SB fan always. I was waiting for a Blades solo disc for dang near 15 years! The verdict; I would have liked to see a more rock sound,(too much pop) but nobody wants a part 2 cd. I agree with some others, Kelly's cd was much better. Even though I think Seven was the best NR disc yet, I will wait longer for another disc from them.

12/03/04: Scott -
Rating: 75
I have to remind myself this album isn't Night Ranger or Damn Yankees. It's Jack Blades. Slightly different sound and style. Not the best songs he's ever written, but still respectable. They've gotten better with repeat listening. I like the album.

09/03/04: frytz -
Rating: 90
Well, certainly not Night Ranger or Damn Yankees but more Shaw/Blades. I think it's OK! It has some great tunes, a cool production and a Jack who's trying out new things and I think it works, at least for me! Great Album.

09/03/04: Jonathan -
Rating: 18
Had Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy not released such a killer solo album a couple of years back, maybe Jack's solo album wouldn't have sounded so horrible. Some of these songs are just plain laughable, and Jack's different vocal styles are really becoming annoying. Some song by song comments:

Sea of Emotions - not a bad tune. I really had my hopes up for the CD after this first song

Shine On - CD takes a turn for the worse on this song. Way too "pop" for my taste

We are the Ones - Can you honestly listen to Jack's voice in the first 30 seconds of this song, and not laugh and have to skip to song 4??? This is complete crap.

Alone Tonight - Shaw Blades, part two????? A nice song, but the cheesy background vocals have to go.

Sometimes You Gotta Have Faith - And sometimes you just have to put in earplugs. If I didn't have the CD in my player right now, listening with my own ears, you couldn't have convinced me that Jack would write such a wimpy song. This has to be the low point in the history of music. ;-)

To Touch the Sky - Hey, a guitar at the start of the song. This is a huge improvement from the previous four tracks. This is a catchy tune. No complaints on this one.

Who You Want to Be - Not a bad song, if you like the songs from Shaw-Blades. The end of the song is horrid, however, it's still the 3rd best song on the album so far.

Someday - another mellow song in the Shaw-Blades mold

Breaking It Down - another mellow (and fairly dull) song. If you need help falling to sleep at night, put this song on repeat, and you'll doze off in no time.

On Top of the World - This is more of an upbeat rocker, but the song is downright awful. If this is a "modern" sound, no wonder I don't listen to the radio...

Nature's Way - another bland, mellow, song to end the album. Yawn.

To sum it up, only 2 songs really worth putting on an album. So I rate this an 18 (2/11 = 18%). The best part of this album is that it's short, so it only takes 45 minutes to get through it. Jack, please run, don't walk, back to the rest of the Night Ranger guys and record another rock and roll album. I know it won't sell, but neither will this solo album, and it least you'll please your older fans.

I can't imagine anyone liking this album, except for a few middle-aged groupies who just worship the ground that Jack walks on and would buy an album of him belching the ABC's.

This is biggest disappointment since Boston's "Corporate America".

27/02/04: Steve -
Rating: 60
I'm a huge Jack Blades fan. BUT this cd is just plain AWEFUL! Jack tries too hard to please the teen nu rockers of the world! What about his loyal fans? Shine on is the worst single he's ever released Who's gonna play it? Just like the Shaw Blades cd He gave away his best tunes to other people! This was a waste of $15.00 Dollars! I'll sell it on ebay !

26/02/04: freddy de keyzer -
Rating: 55
After Tesla the second big disappointment of this year (and with House Of Lords and Rick Springfield we'll have another two big disappointments coming up !). As a devoted Night Ranger (that was a band !) it hurts me to say that the songs on this disc are rather weak. There's is also no cohesion : some flat AOR, some more rockers, some more modern etc. Hope you got the point. It all lacks power ! No, not my cup of tea, Jack ! Hope you return with a classic Night Ranger or a new Damn Yankees record !

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