cinderella

REVIEW: Cinderella – Once Around the Ride…Then & Now (promo, inc. Heartbreak Station)

SAM_2073

I’m going to be covering more of my rarities in 2013.  This is part 2 of today’s Cinderella feature.  For part 1, a more comprehensive review of the Heartbreak Station CD, click Tommy Morais’ review here!

This Cinderella compilation is a rare promo.  Don’t know what a promo CD is?  Watch the educational video below starring yours truly!

Record Store Tales Part 117:  Promos

SAM_2069

CINDERELLA – Once Around the Ride…Then & Now (Promotional only, 1990 Polygram)

This is a really, really cool package.  Two discs:  Then… and Now…, showcasing the absolute best of Cinderella up to 1990, including two rare live bonus tracks.

Somewhat predictably, Then… is a greatest hits set from the first two records.  Five tunes from Night Songs, six from Long Cold Winter, which I rated 4.5/5 in a recent review.  Then, the aforementioned two bonus tracks:  “Shake Me” and “Night Songs”, performed live.  “Night Songs” was one that I owned previously on a rare Polygram compilation from ’92 called Welcome To The Jungle.  From what I can tell, these two tracks are originally from a 1987 European release called The Live EP, and it appears they’ve been recycled as bonus tracks on several items since, including a promo Kiss single for “Any Way You Slice It”!

Interestingly, the back cover states that the two bonus tracks are from a forthcoming EP also called Night Songs, an EP I’ve never seen or heard of before or since.

The tracks chosen are pretty much the tunes that anybody would have chosen given a compilation like this:  All the singles, and a selection of kickass album tracks such as “Night Songs”, “Fallin’ Apart At The Seams”, and “Push, Push”.  As a Cinderella collection of the early stuff, this is about as perfect a compilation as it gets.  As far as I’m concerned the only track it’s really missing is the awesome “Take Me Back” from Long Cold Winter, a great tune that would have made a perfect single.

SAM_2074

The second disc, Now… is the entire Heartbreak Station album (review here) from start to finish.  It even comes with the full booklet for Heartbreak Station, so this is how I chose to buy the album.  Heartbreak Station is another fantastic, underrated Cinderalla album.   It was clear from Long Cold Winter that the band was interested in exploring their underappreciated blues roots.   On Heartbreak Station, they ditched the glam and went full bore into those roots.

The opening track “The More Things Change” is aptly titled, but is actually the track most like their past work.  “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time” is nothing but pure funky goodness, a completely unexpected twist.  The horn-laden “Shelter Me” was the first single (remember Little Richard in the video?), a really cool soul rock song.  The lyrics were totally on-trend in the wake of the fresh Judas Priest trial, a rant on Tipper Gore and the PMRC!

Tipper led the war against the record industry,
She said she saw the devil on her MTV

Sharp minded readers will remember that Tipper was prompted to start the PMRC when her kid was terrified by Tom Petty’s video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” on MTV!

I love Little Richard.

The centerpiece of the album is the title track, with strings by John Paul Jones.  The band were dissatisfied that they had to use synth on the previous album’s hit, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”.  John Paul Jones lent the band some serious credibility.  The song is a lush, sullen ballad with an incredible slide solo.  I remember some video channels played it under the wrong name back in ’91.  They were calling the song “The Last Train”.

Other winners:  The totally country-fied “One For Rock & Roll”, with loads of steel guitar, dobro, and 12 string.  The electrified “Love Gone Bad”, which also hearkens back to the Long Cold Winter sound in a powerful way.  “Dead Man’s Road”, which is a haunting, slow dark rocker with loads of acoustics.  Really, there are only a couple filler songs on the whole album.

This isn’t a cheap compilation to find today, but if you do happen upon it, pick it up.  It’s a collectible now, but not just that, it’s one you’ll actually play!

5/5 stars

Advertisements

GUEST REVIEW: Cinderella – Heartbreak Station (by Tommy Morais!)

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…

SAM_2074

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.

5/5 stars

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

DUAL REVIEW: Back to 1990 with CINDERELLA AND SLAUGHTER Live EP’s!

CONTEXT:  In spring of 1991, Bob and I went to see Cinderella, with Slaughter opening, here at the Aud.  They were both touring behind their new albums.  Cinderella were supporting their third, the excellent Heartbreak Station.  Slaughter were still rocking their debut, after already supporting Kiss the previous summer.

Both bands released live EP’s to further promote the tours.  Here’s my review for each.

CINDERELLA – Live Train to Heartbreak Station (EP, 1991 – Japanese exclusive)

Japan sure loves the rock!  That’s one reason they get such cool exclusives. (There are other reasons too, involving incentive to purchase domestic product rather than the less expensive US imports.) Live Train To Heartbreak Station, recorded in Little Rock Arkansas, is one such exclusive. A six song EP released in 1991, this was issued to support the Heartbreak Station tour. I was fortunate enough to witness a show on the Canadian leg of that tour, which suffered from poor ticket sales, an early harbinger of the grunge to come….

Having seen it live, this sounds purely authentic. I’m sure there are overdubs, 90% of live albums do have overdubs. However they are hard to definitively detect. Tom Keifer’s patented screech is right there, in your face, still in its glory days. The band is solid, augmented by organ and keys in the background. You can also hear the two female backing vocalists that the band were using at the time.

This EP consists of six tracks, two from each of the band’s three albums in existance at the time. All six songs were singles, although not all were hits. Even though it was not a hit, I think it’s safe to say that “The More Things Change” belongs on an EP like this  It’s a great song in the opening slot. They also sequence the two ballads (“Don’t Know What You Got” and “Heartbreak Station”) right in the middle of the EP, side by side. I like that idea, get ’em out of the way.  I think that was a smart move, albeit the girly audience screams can get old pretty fast. But man, the harmonies on “Heartbreak Station” are so sweet. I don’t care if the girlies loved it, that’s just a great song. Synth replaces John Paul Jones’ string section.

After the two ballads, the band cranked out their two best known rockers, “Shake Me” and “Gypsy Road”. Man, this takes me back. I can remember a time when I thought “Gypsy Road” was the best thing since sliced bread. And you know what? It still ain’t bad!

This is still one of the best, if not the best, Cinderella live packages on the market due to the vocal problems that Keifer would experience later on. It’s a shame it’s just an EP, but context is important. This was just a taster, a sample. Don’t forget Slaughter and Ozzy both released live EPs at the same time – it was the thing to do, I guess.

4/5 stars.

SLAUGHTER – Stick It Live (EP, 1990)

I absolutely hate listening to a live album when you can hear two or three tracks simultaneously of one singer.  Here you can hear several Mark Slaughters singing together at once. Come on, Slaughter. We’re not stupid. And the thing is, from seeing them live opening for Cinderella, I know they don’t need the overdubs. The review that I wrote for my school paper at the time said, “Mark Slaughter has proved that his high-pitched wail is not studio trickery.” Well, you can’t tell that by this live EP, Stick It Live!

Take the opening track, “Burning Bridges”. At several points you can hear several Marks singing at once. Why was this done? Did the live recordings suck?  Was it because the record company forced it?  Or because it was the fashion at the time?  I dunno. A live album (or EP) was considered an historical document, so too many bands felt they had to make them “perfect”. When in reality, perfect should have been as-is. My favourite live albums are often bootleg quality.

“Eye To Eye” follows “Burning Bridges”, opening with some stupid Crue-esque spoken word bit about an “ancient book of wisdom” and other unrelated nonsense. It’s a shame because “Eye To Eye” was one of their best songs. Once the song gets going, it’s fine, but you can still hear two or three Marks on the pre-chorus.

The track listing is as follows:

1.”Burnin’ Bridges” – 4:29
2.”Eye To Eye” – 6:25
3.”Fly To The Angels” – 6:07
4.”Up All Night” – 6:38
5.”Loaded Gun” – 5:44

 

2/5 stars. A pretty fine live set otherwise spoiled by the dreaded studio trickery.