REVIEW: Cinderella – Long Cold Winter (1988)

Longcoldwinter

CINDERELLA  – Long Cold Winter (1988 Polygram Records)

I remember how excited I was upon hearing the first single, “Gypsy Road”, in the summer of ’88.  Cinderella had managed a bluesier, more “authentic” hard rock sound for their critical second LP.  Night Songs was OK, but Long Cold Winter was better in every way.  The cheese factor had been replaced by pedal steel guitars, pianos, and Hammond B3 organs.

Drummer Fred Coury was touring with Guns N’ Roses (Steven Adler had broken his hand punching a wall) during much of the making of Long Cold Winter.  It’s not clear how much of Long Cold Winter he played on, as the band pulled in two incredible session drummers for the project:  Denny Carmassi (of Heart and later Coverdale – Page), and the late great Cozy Powell!

From the bluesy opening of “Bad Seamstress Blues”, it was clear that the AC/DC clone Cinderella that featured Bon Jovi cameos in its videos had evolved.  Two incredible, throat wrenching rockers follow this:  “Fallin’ Apart at the Seams” and “Gypsy Road”.  Both songs easily stand up today as forgotten classics of the “hair metal” era.  But truthfully, Cinderella only made one “hair metal” album.  Long Cold Winter doesn’t really fit in with that scene, and their next album Heartbreak Station would leave it behind completely.

“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”, the epic power ballad, is more Aerosmith than Poison, and still features a great guitar solo straight out of the Iommi blues notebook.  I’m not too keen on “The Last Mile”, a straightforward rocker, but it was still chosen as a single from this album.  Much better is the side-closing “Second Wind”, amped up and stuttering.

Side two opened with Cinderella’s “serious” blues, the title track.  It’s a bit too contrived for me, it has a vibe of, “Hey, let’s write our ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’!”.  Lots of repeated “baby baby baby” Plant-isms.  At the time it was released, this song was seen as a serious departure for the band, but in hindsight it’s really just a first step into a larger world.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of the rare occasions that Black Sabbath has attempted a slow blues (I’m thinking “Feels Good To Me”, also featuring Cozy Powell) mixed with Zeppelin.

“If You Don’t Like It” is another standard rocker, nothing special, but this is followed by no less than three great songs in a row.  First is the single “Coming Home”, not really a ballad, but a hybrid.  This was one of the most immediate songs that I fell for when I picked up the album.  You can tell that Cinderella wrote a lot of this album on the road, by the lyrics.  “Coming Home” is one such road song.

“Fire and Ice” is heavy, sort of a revisited “Second Wind”, another standout!  Then the album closes with the slide-laden “Take Me Back”, which strikes me as another road song.  Just as good as “Coming Home”, but heavier, it was a great album closer.  Personally if this album had spawned a fifth single, “Take Me Back” would have been my pick, hands down.  And I think this album could have justified five singles.

The band evolved further with album #3 (which featured strings by John Paul Jones!), but I think Long Cold Winter strikes the perfect balance between screeching rock and bitter blues.  From the classy album cover on down to the perfect production, I don’t think they’ve ever made a better album.

4.5/5 stars

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40 comments

  1. Nice review. Another one on my list – it’ll be the 25th anniversary of this album’s release on 5th July! I actually preferred their debut at the time – but also liked this one – a transition from AC/DC to Aerosmith in style. I saw them a couple of times in concert…

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        1. Yeah, they never seemed they were on that “upper tier” of hard rock, but they were also more talented than usually given credit for. Their image during Night Songs probably didn’t help.

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  2. Yeah this is a good followup,I like it better than Night Songs…good band always evolved ,too bad there image got tagged as hair band..they had talent man,Look forward to hearing Kiefers solo album I’m thinking it will be along the lines of the heartbreak station album,we’ll see how close or how far away I am with that call…..

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    1. I think you’re right Deke and that’s what I’m expecting too. I wonder about his voice though. The guy did so much damage to his voice singing this way, I wonder what it sounds like now? Of course Heartbreak Station toned down the shrieking, so I’m sure he can continue in that way. It’s amazing how much damage you can do to your voice just by singing.

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  3. Yeah for sure Mike. Remember there Once Upon A Time …..greatest hits??? Check out the song War Stories back in 97 he sang it in a different register,still cool but different…..cuz his voice was probably gone so he was trying different ranges….
    I dunno,I’m not a throat specialist..hahahahaha

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    1. Hahah!

      I never bought that album…at the time I couldn’t justify buying a new album for one new song, discs were a lot more expensive at that time! I should see if I can find a cheap used one.

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    1. EWWWWWWW! I’m faaaaaallin’!

      Yeah, good call man.

      I just listened to Heartbreak Station again, and although it’s very different, I love that record too. They’re just two different beasts.

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      1. Yeah I love the first three but, like Deke says, they really kept progressing and changing. I think they got the Blues and Metal mix spot on with this one. But this was also the first album of theirs I heard so that doesn’t hurt!

        I’d say I’m more familiar with the first two, I should really give Heartbreak Station another listen.

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        1. This was the first one I bought as well, summer of ’88. I fell in love with it immediately. It is a shame that changing tastes have relegated this one to an also-ran status. If history had unfolded different, this one would be still be a popular one to have in your collection, like Appetite.

          Check out Heartbreak again. It was obvious they were trying to mature, and that’s not always a bad thing. I think it has some outstanding material on it. I saw them on the Heartbreak tour and they were amazing.

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  4. The thing I dug the most was with Kiefer his vocals in the studio were what ya would get live ,whereas a guy like Joe Elliott live was like ……what????….case in point when I seen Leppard twice on the Adranalize tour in 92 his voice was not the voice I heard on record or for that matter the Live in the round VHS tape…..that baffled me……lay off the Multi layers of vocals and go basic..I thought that sometimes on some of those Cinderella tunes that Kiefers lungs were gonna fling right out of my stereo speakers……
    I always wondered about Cozy on that record I had heard at the time I think in Kerrang that they weren’t happy with Courys studio drumming since that was his first album with Cinderella .
    Don’t know if that’s true but a conspiracy theory no doubt…..dude could play that first Arcade record with Pearcy was fantastic…

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    1. Live Keifer shredded! I guess this is why he has had so many problems with his voice? They didn’t mess around in the studio.

      Who knows about Coury? If they didn’t like him, it’s weird that he is still in the band today. I think Kenny Aranoff did Still Climbing?

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      1. Yes. Cinderella were a 3-piece on that album. Aranoff did all songs as a guest musician except Hot & Bothered which was Coury.

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        1. He sure is. He stepped in and played with Chickenfoot when Chad Smith went on tour with the Chili Peppers. I don’t like RHCP one bit, but Chad is a great drummer. Shitloads of groove.

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        2. Chad’s even played with the Dixie Chicks! And he makes it look so, so easy. A lot of people give Chickenfoot a hard time (Most of them DLR fans) but I think both albums were solid.

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        3. Sounds like what I had to say about it too. Great minds I guess :)

          I think Michael’s background vocals are so important to the overall VH sound that Chickenfoot naturally sounds like songs that could have been some of the best Van Hagar tunes. I do not have the live record yet.

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  5. Had eighth row at the aforementioned show at the Aud with Slaughter opening, and bagged off the afternoon to go to the in-store at HMV on University Ave in Waterloo. Saw them a few months later with DLR and Extreme at Kingswood, too. Good times.

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    1. No kidding! That’s awesome Tony. My aged brain still recalls the Aud show as being awesome.

      Stay tuned this week, I have a special Heartbreak Station double feature coming soon. I’ll be showing off one of my treasured Cinderella rarities so don’t miss it!

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  6. Cinderella is my first true love. I’ve seen them hundreds of times in a 4 state radius from Michigan. I’ve gotten to hang out with them on several occasions, and let me tell you, when you love a bands music, meet the band, and they are a bunch of idiots, you tend to feel cheated. These guys are real, they love their music, they love touring, they love their fans, and this just made them superstars in my book. One of the most underrated hair bands…THE MOST underrated hairband. They, by FAR, outplay Poison, yet poison, because of mister pretty boy michaels and cheesey antics, achieved more infamy. It makes me mad because live sound is huge to me, and alot of these big bands don’t sound that good outside of studio effects and overdubbing. Cinderella sounds better live than they do on any recording. All Hail Cinderella!!

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    1. Thanks for the post Rob!

      You know, I hate to even compare Cinderella to Poison. Yes they came at the same time and were considered part of the same “scene”, but does the music really have much in common?

      I’ve always felt Cinderella got the shitty end of the stick, they were much better than the got credit for, and I’m proud to post reviews about how I feel about the band!

      If you check back in few days, we have a special Cinderella double feature coming. Hope to see you back.

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      1. True, musically they have nothing in common, but whenever you hear “hair bands” they just pop into my head, plus they always seem to open for them on the 80’s tours. Even though Cinderella is alot of Love songs, or just emotional songs, the music itself is quite meaty. So many layers, and the cornucopia of styles they have woven into what has become “their sound”. I’m very critical of music, and even though you do hear sounds reminiscent of Aerosmith, vocals kind of AC/DC’ish, they’ve expanded so much on that base and turned it into a unique sound that as soon as you hear it, you know who it is, yet it’s not like bands of today where every song sounds the same. It’s very admirable.

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        1. I agree. I remember getting Heartbreak Station as a kid, and reading over the liner notes, and seeing all these interesting instruments that I never heard of before. “Dobro? What the hell is that?” You weren’t seeing CC Deville playing Dobro!

          In a way I like to consider Cinderella and Tesla in similar categories. Both were more interested in rootsy rock and roll, both could really play, and both are terribly underrated!

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        2. I really hate it when people, often people who hates the so called glam or “hair” era, namedrops Poison and Cinderella in the same sentence. Btw, isn’t “hair metal” a really stupid tag? As far as I know, there isn’t a genre called hair metal and never have.
          Anyway, Cinderella had more in common with bands such as Aerosmith and Rolling Stones even. And I’m glad you mentioned Tesla, because they were a hard rock band, no more, no less and had nothing to do with glam. Also, people often put Skid Row in there as well. Come on, Skid Row were a metal band.
          It was the same with grunge. Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana sounded nothing alike, but apparantly they were all “grunge”…

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        3. At my highschool, this weird rumour started that Steven Tyler was Mick Jagger’s son, and then Tom Keifer was Tyler’s son. I see the physical and hear the musical resemblances, but come on!

          Well said with the grunge examples. It always struck me as odd that four very different bands were all considered “the same thing”. Kind of like people who know nothing about metal, putting Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi in that category..

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        4. It was the same with the melodic rock era (I will never use the stupid and incorrect term “hair metal” ever again….), with the bands that were popular from, say 1985 – 1992. Look at these names: Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Tesla, Poison, Mötley Crüe, Winger, Europe, Warrant, Slaughter, Def Leppard, Cinderella, Aerosmith, Kiss, Whitesnake. No one can claim that all those bands played the same kind of music. Just like the grunge bands didn’t.

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  7. What a great review, Mike. A killer album, this one. Still, I reckon Heartbreak Station to be Cinderella’s magnum opus, but I don’t think they ever released a bad album even though the debut was a bit uneven at times. But i remember buying this LP when it came out and me and my friends just played the crap out that record. I believe Fire And Ice and Second Wind being the only tracks on here that I didn’t find as strong as the rest. I need to put it into my iPhone right now.

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    1. Love Heartbreak Station too. In fact I wanted to make sure I did justice to it, so I posted two reviews of it:

      https://mikeladano.com/2013/01/24/review-cinderella-once-around-the-ride-then-now/

      https://mikeladano.com/2013/01/24/guest-review-cinderella-heartbreak-station-by-tommy-morais/

      I find this one and Heartbreak to be very different albums and I really hate trying to compare them. Both are great, one sounds like an evolution from the other, but both are great!

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  8. Plugging through the Ladano vaults enjoyed this one very much cool review. Disagree regarding The Last Mile, personally found that top notch in fact of all the songs from this album it and Gypsy Road bring back memories ya know!? Nostalgic value intact ;)

    Just a tremendous record and it pained me way way back when Bruce Dickinson made a flippant comment regarding these guys or perhaps the album’s lack of worth, agree of all the genre these guys surpassed most their contemporaries. While they may be far removed in style from my own faves the likes of Spread Eagle or Saigon Kick etc, they were that good ya know!?

    To be honest they lost me rather quickly with Heartbreak Station, like Mike said, ‘Long Cold Winter strikes the perfect balance between screeching rock and bitter blues’ but I felt Heartbreak Station took things a little too far one way. Still Climbing was a better record but agreeing with Mike again in that Long Cold Winter was their best.

    Great record!

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    1. Thanks Wardy! I still love this album and play it periodically. Heartbreak Station went too soft in some ways, but this really is the perfect balance.

      Funny thing, I just realized that I don’t have Cinderella’s first, or fourth albums.

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      1. HA! Well I settled for just ‘hearing’ Night Songs but refused to actually ‘own’ it purely because of the cover pic and my hatred even back then for the makeup glam shenanigans and whatnot… The rest are of course essential for the collection.

        No doubt you have already but if you haven’t heard Still Climbing search it out, while not as complete or as classic as LCW it’s still a rewarding listen if given its due from the time from which it came :)

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        1. I admit that the cover pic is pretty bad. If they had worn T-shirts and leather pants, they probably wouldn’t have suffered the decline that they did!

          I have Still Climbing taped to a cassette. But that does not count.

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