Friday, October 22, 2010

Rocktober Album #16: Cinderella - Long Cold Winter (1988)

Last night, I had a relatively strange dream. I was in what appeared to be like a '50s diner/strip club, where Joan Jett was performing. In the dream, she was kind of a bitch to her backing band, but she looked great. The audience was comprised of a lot of musicians (not famous musicians, just people who apparently played instruments). Many of them brought their guitars and basses with them, which I thought was okay in the dream. Anyway, before the show started, I was conversing with a tattooed dude with a guitar who looked like he was in his 50s. He asked me, "Who do you think has a better voice, the guy from Soundgarden or the guy from Cinderella?" Without hesitation, I said, "Chris Cornell or Tom Kiefer? That's a close call, but I'd have to go with Chris Cornell. He's got some pipes."

That's not to say that Tom Kiefer is a bad singer. I actually like his wail. Cinderella is one of those bands that automatically gets grouped in with all other hair bands, but that's not completely fair. Sure, they had big hair, but so did everyone in the '80s. Sure, they had a power ballad, but so did everyone in the '80s. What sets them apart, in my mind, is that a lot of their songs are blues based, and they use a bottleneck slide a lot more than most hair bands. Another interesting tidbit about Cinderella is that the band's drummer, Fred Coury, was previously in the legendary Sunset Strip "feeder" band London, which throughout its history also had future members of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, and W.A.S.P., but never itself had the kind of success those bands had. Another interesting tidbit: Cinderella's original guitarist, Michael Smerick, and drummer, Tony Destra, left the band in 1985 to form another relatively successful glam metal band, Britny Fox.

Long Cold Winter is the band's second album, released in the heyday of hair bands. Their first album, Night Songs, did pretty well, rising to #3 on the Billboard album charts and going double platinum in about six months. Long Cold Winter followed suit, rising to #10 on the album charts and also going double platinum within about six months (and eventually going triple platinum). The album was easily the band's most popular as far as singles went, with three songs making the Billboard Top 40 ("Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" #12, "Coming Home" #20, "The Last Mile" #36) and another in the Top 100 ("Gypsy Road" #51). All in all, I think it's an underrated album, with a lot of great, catchy, blues-rock songs.

As seems to be the norm, only half of the songs are on Of course, you can hear samples of all of the songs on Amazon, where you can also buy the album for $7.34.

1. Bad Seamstress Blues
Right off the bat, they start off with a blues-based song. The intro is acoustic blues, and Kiefer actually sings in a normal voice (as opposed to his usual gravelly falsetto). Then the song kicks in, and it's a dark, gritty song about some shitty seamstress. It's a good song, but an unusual one for a hair band to put as their first song on an album.

2. Gypsy Road
I think we can all agree that we hate gypsies. Get off my lawn! What I don't hate is this song. It's a nice catchy hard rock song, with a kickass guitar solo. This was actually the band's first single released off of the album, but it didn't chart until nearly a year later.

3. Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)
This is the band's most popular and most successful song, and one of the better hair band power ballads. Of course, it has a special place in my heart, not only because it reminds me of my childhood and because I love hair band music, but also because it featured prominently in a dream I had about physician-assisted suicide.

4. The Last Mile
This song has nice bluesy guitars, and it's another solid, catchy rock song.

5. Second Wind
"Second Wind" starts out with a nice fast driving riff. The verses are frantic, and then the chorus slows down a little, almost as if the band is catching their breath to get their -- wait for it -- second wind. Touché, Cinderella.

6. Long Cold Winter
The title track to the album is just straight-up blues. Kiefer wails on this song like he's in a South Side juke joint, and the guitars are great as well.

7. If You Don't Like It
This one is had a nice riff that drives the song as Kiefer sings the verses at a breakneck pace. The song has a good message: "If you don't like it, I don't care."

8. Coming Home
This song is the band's second-highest charting song off the album. It's acoustic and a little slower than most of the other songs, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Like many of the songs, it's a pretty straightforward rock song.

9. Fire and Ice
"Fire and Ice" starts off with a ballsy riff and Kiefer angrily yelling, most likely at some devil woman.

10. Take Me Back
I don't know why this wasn't released as a single. It's a really catchy hard rock song, with great guitars and a sing-along chorus. One time during trivia at Rocks when the name-that-tune round was all hair band music, I think I might have been the only person in the bar who knew this song. Nice try, Kevin.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

No comments: