REVIEW: Cinderella – Gold (2006)

CINDERELLA – Gold (2006 Universal)

When a band like Cinderella, who only have four studio albums, get a double CD “best of” compilation, it had better be good.  Fortunately Cinderella’s edition of the Gold series offers value for the money and unreleased live tracks to boot.

All the Cinderella albums are represented, including the criminally underrated Still Climbing album from 1994.  Cinderella did not “go grunge” as so many others did.  As “Bad Attitude Shuffle” indicates, they simply doubled down on their own brand of bluesy hard rock with bite.  From the same album, “Free Wheelin'” and “Talk is Cheap” both show fearless commitment to the genre.  Then the ballad “Through the Rain” also from Still Climbing provides the balance.  Cinderella have successfully employed ballads since day one, because they happen to be quite good at them.

Among their greatest ballads: “Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)”, “Heartbreak Station”, “Coming Home”, “Wind of Change”, and “Nobody’s Fool”.  Each one of these tracks is worthy to be on this compilation.  Some of their slower material either bordered on blues, or were just flat-out blues songs.  Some are here:  “Long Cold Winter”, “Dead Man’s Road”, and “Sick For the Cure”.  Then there is the soulful “Shelter Me” that is harder to categorize.  But of course Cinderella are best known as a hard rock band, and most of the material falls into that vast category.  Many of these tunes are truly awesome.  “Shake Me” was first to gain attention, with some noting similarities to AC/DC.  “Hot and Bothered”, originally from the Wayne’s World soundtrack, combines the blues and rock in a tasty confection.  “Second Wind” from Long Cold Winter kicks ass, and “Gypsy Road” is here too, albeit in live form.

The live tracks are all credited to a Japanese promo CD called Last Train to Heartbreak Station, which appears to be a completely different thing from their Japanese EP called Live Train to Heartbreak Station.  Rarities are always welcome on a compilation, but one has to wish that the great single “Gypsy Road” was also included in its studio version.  It’s a good enough tune that it wouldn’t be a crime to have two versions on the same CD.

Because of their feminine name and some really bad wardrobe choices, Cinderella was written off by many people without hearing any of their rocking material.  While that is a real shame, Cinderella hasn’t made a new album in 23 years so this would be a good one-stop-shop to get much of their best material.  Augment this baby with a copy of their classic Long Cold Winter CD and you will have enough Cinderella to have a good representation of their best stuff.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: KISS – Gold (2005)

Part 43 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!   Chronologically, this album was released in between 20th Century Masters Vol. 2, and Vol. 3, in 2005.

KISS – Gold (2005, Universal)

At this point, you can’t blame Gene anymore.   Kiss’ old record label was free to issue whatever compilations they wanted, and they did.  Of these compilations, none contained previously unreleased material.  So, these are aimed strictly at the newbies, and the collectors.  And the collectors loathe shelling out for this kind of thing.

There is some light shining through the clouds.

First off, unlike every hits album released before it, this one actually has liner notes! Not bad liner notes either! Some common errors have been corrected in them (for example, Anton Fig is listed on drums for the “disco” albums). Not all the errors have been corrected, unfortunately, and I believe all lineup information has been taken directly from the liner notes of Kiss’ The Box Set.

Second, the track listing really is superb, even if offering few surprises. The ground covered is the “makeup years” 1974-1982…yet for unknown reasons the entire (excellent) Creatures Of The Night album is absent. Instead Universal ends this compilation with two tracks from the import only Killers, a pleasant if baffling inclusion. The liner notes end here as well, glossing over the entire last two decades of the band.

Lastly, there are a total of 40 tracks on two CDs, a very generous slice of rock n’ roll indeed. This allowed Universal to include no less than five tracks from the first album! Five tracks are included from Destroyer, four from Alive!, and each solo record is given one track as well! Even the box set didn’t have anything from Gene’s solo record (although it included an unreleased demo). The disco albums are given a total of four tracks combined, and Music From The Elder is not ignored either.

I suppose in this day and age, a band of Kiss’ age does need a number of hits albums. You need a good, full-length single disc for the people who want that (The Very Best Of). You need a double-disc version for the people who want a little more (Gold). And now in this era, you also need a budget-priced 10 or 12 track hits compilation like 20th Century Masters.   When you think about it, it all makes sense.

While I think Universal really should have put something on here for the diehards who already have all this material several times over, one version of this album comes with a DVD of Kiss Exposed.  I guess that’s cool if you don’t have it already.  It’s an odd pick, since Exposed mostly focuses on the music after the makeup came off, none of which are relevant to Gold.

For newbies: 4/5 stars.  It’s good value for a good selection of arguably the best years.  But be aware there are plenty more hits that you’re missing.

For fans:  2/5 stars.   Good compilation of material, that Universal are hoping to get you to buy again for the umpteenth time.

Full tracklist can be seen in the gallery below.