Monday, November 1, 2021

"I Did It for Love" by Night Ranger

Song#:  3661
Date:  10/01/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a pair of platinum albums that featured five Pop Top 20 hits including two Top 10s, the band's fortunes dwindled a bit with their '87 album Big Life. None if its singles would make the Pop Top 40 and that left the LP peaking at #28 and eking out a gold certification. Needing to turn things around, the band went back into the studio to record their fifth album Man in Motion. Their intent was to return to their original guitar-driven rock sound and they did so with producer Keith Olsen. However, the one thing they didn't do for the LP was to include a crossover ballad. Their label, MCA, wanted one to help promote the LP because the band's biggest hits were power ballads, not uptempo rock tunes. A struggle between label and band ensued and in the end the label won out. Night Ranger got pushed into recording "I Did It for Love," which was written by Russ Ballard. Not only were they forced to compromise and record the tune, but it was the first one in their catalog that at least one band member did not have a hand in writing. Of course the song would be the first one released from the LP, but MCA's choice of song ended up not being the right one. The single did okay at Rock getting to #16, but it flopped at Pop where it peaked in the bottom quarter of the chart. A second single failed to make either chart while the track "Reason to Believe" got a little airplay at Rock and made it to #48. Those results left the album fumbling at #81. The band had been on shaky ground internally and with MCA before the LP, so after it failed to do much things got worse with main/original member Jack Blades taking off and the band left off the MCA roster. While the main era of the band was over, they would reunite in various forms over the years and record a few albums along the way.

ReduxReview:  The band inadvertently painted themselves in a corner doing power ballads, but was that really so bad? Chicago had a huge career in the 80s doing the same thing, so why not follow suit to keep a successful career going for a bit longer? The album could contain about anything else they wanted, they just need to have at least one surefire hit ballad to keep them going. I mean, I understand artistic integrity and direction, but c'mon. You were on a major label, had two double-platinum albums, a pair of Top 10s, and successful tours. Why mess with that? Eventually the band's fortunes would turn and they could then do whatever they wanted, but why fight with the label and screw up your career even further? It was a bad call on their part and it left them stuck with this single that they didn't write. Russ Ballard is a solid songwriter and I liked what he did on this tune, but I don't think it was the right fit for the band. The commercial pop roots of the tune made it sound like a song that could be done by any pop/rock artist, therefore it kind of made Night Ranger a little faceless. The band was better when they were writing their own songs. People remember those. This just made the band sound bland and their identity was lost. Good song, wrong band. But they brought it on themselves.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After Jack Blades left the band, he would join up with Tommy Shaw of Styx and Ted Nugent (along with unknown drummer Michael Cartellone) to form the "supergroup" Damn Yankees. The quartet first got together in '89 and quickly secured a contract with Warner Bros. Their self-titled debut album would come in '90 and its first single, "Coming of Age," would reach #1 on the Rock chart (#60 Pop). However, it would be another single, the power ballad "High Enough," that would truly break the band. The song would be a gold-seller that got to #3 Pop and #2 Rock. Its success pushed the album to #13 and it would eventually go double-platinum. They would follow their debut up in '92 with Don't Tread, but is was less successful. It would reach #22 and go gold mainly due to the #20 Pop/63 Rock hit "Where You Goin' Now." The band's success helped revive Ted Nugent's career and after the second album he went back to solo work. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades formed a duo and would issue out a couple of albums. Eventually they would return to Styx and Night Ranger, respectively. The band would get back together again in 1999 and attempt to record a third album, but neither the band members nor any labels were pleased with the results and the project collapsed.


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