I have a special Cinderella rarity review of my own coming later today, which relates to this album. We need to take a good luck at Heartbreak Station to properly appreciate this rarity, so I asked the rock scholar Tommy Morais back for another guest shot! Enjoy, and check out my part later today…
CINDERELLA – Heartbreak Station (1990 Polygram)
I’ve loved the first two Cinderella albums and for the longest time I didn’t get around listening to their next two albums, Heartbreak Station and Still Climbing. I recently acquired Heartbreak Station and I have to say I missed out on some great music. They changed their roots from the Glam sound that made them popular to a more Blues-oriented direction and although I was very fond of their debut album Night Songs and its follow up Long Cold Winter it’s a change that I like. Cinderella on this album seem to be wanting to break away from the Glam mold, which was already evident from their second album, which already integrated blues elements into the music but pushed even further in that direction with their third album. It introduced more acoustic and came dangerously to country many times, but Cinderella style of course, Heartbreak Station is anything but generic. As a Rock/Metal fan primarily the country direction wasn’t something I thought would have much appeal to me but I’m surprised at how much at I like it and how well the approach they took on this album works. Just have an open mind and you’ll see that they’ve matured as persons and musicians and Heartbreak is a culmination of that and the stunning result.
“The More Things Change” as an opening song is a statement of how they’ve changed their sound, evolved through the years as musicians and persons, it’s quick to show the new direction and is one of the catchiest and most memorable tracks off Heartbreak Station. “Love’s Got Me Doing Time” has a cool near psychedelic groove and even some Jimi Hendrix style of playing and while it’s very different and might seem a little out of place, it fits and adds diversity, it’s a cool track. “Shelter Me” is one of the best tracks from this album, it’s catchy and the chorus is instantly etched in your mind, it’s a quite effective track. Like Long Cold Winter, the title track of this album is both the longest cut, and the ballad. Cinderella have done amazing ballads (“Nobody’s Fool”, “Don’t Know What You Got“, “Long Cold Winter” all come to mind) and “Heartbreak Station” ranks up there, it’s touching, has a neat chorus, feels sincere and is just as good as any of the ballads they’ve done, albeit with a slightly different sound. The lyrics to me are heartbreaking and very personal and anyone’s who’s ever experienced a heartbreak will be touched by this one, a true tearjerker the highlight and centerpiece of the album. “Sick For The Cure” picks up the pace and gets things rocking a little more, it has great lyrics and Tom’s delivery is absolutely fantastic. “One For Rock And Roll” could be described as a happy go lucky, “I don’t care because I’m happy with simple things” bouncy delight. A simple effective and infectious song. “Dead Man’s Road” is a bluesy as Cinderella gets and Tom’s voice shines through altering between his normal and raspy voice. It’s one of the highlights of Heartbreak Station and it stands out, it takes you places. Reflecting lyrics on this one, “When I was young, my old man told me I could be what I wanted”, one of my favorite Cinderella songs. “Electric Love” stands out for being much different from the rest, the simplest way to explain it is that it’s a trip for the listener with its groove (reminiscent of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”) and although it has a fixated chorus, it still goes places. “Love Gone Bad” and “Wind of Change” end the album tremendously well and on a high note, there is not a bad moment here.
Coming from a big fan of the band’s first two albums, Heartbreak Station is an incredible album that pursues different musical territories. It’s undeniably Cinderella but with a twist. This is one of my favourite albums of the 1990’s and while some of the bands tried (and failed) to adapt to the changing landscape of the decade, Cinderella is one of the few that I felt succeeded at doing so. They reinvented themselves successfully and even though I’m sure some of the early followers didn’t love the change, they reached out to people they couldn’t have otherwise. I’ve always maintained that Tom Keiffer is a superb songwriter who wrote amazing songs and on this album the maturity and beauty he reaches in the lyrics is something.
After Heartbreak Station Cinderella went on to release one more studio album Still Climbing (1994) but singer, leader and songwriter Tom Keifer struggled with his voice in the 1990’s and unfortunately they haven’t released anything since other than live albums. Musically and from an objective point of view Heartbreak Station is possibly Cinderella’s strongest album (especially if you dislike the Glam sound of the 80’s), however, I always had a soft spot for the first two albums the band released in the 1980’s and those songs will always be with me, but this is something else and I mean that in a VERY good way. HS is a GREAT album, it was great to see one of the bands branch out and do something unexpected and different. It’s a great little gem and even thought it was clear that they weren’t just another Glam band with big hair, this album validates it even more as they branched out and didn’t go for a commercial sound; they did what they wanted. If you liked the other Cinderella albums and have an open mind, or if you didn’t like the band’s early sound I think you’ll find a lot to like on Heartbreak Station. It’s deserving of the acclaim it receives from fans, I know it has a very special place in my collection.