It’s been a hot minute since I called a band from the grave. There are so many servings of hot and delicious metal buried under the cold, dark ground. A lot of them get swept away without so much as a shot in the limelight. Today, however, I’m going to cover one that did have a shot of glory. Cinderella were a big part of the ‘80s hair band scene, rising out of Philadelphia, PA. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they didn’t release boatloads of albums into the new century, trying to change their style with the scene. Rather, they stopped after 1994 and eventually disbanded. Tom Keifer still has a solo career going strong, but Cinderella are buried. Thanks to having such a brief discography, they don’t have a single bad album to their name.
Night Songs (1986)
Cinderella’s debut album is one of the first things that comes to mind when someone says “glam metal,” which the cover gives away immediately. Night Songs spawned a few stadium-level hits, those being the sexually charged, loud and proud “Shake Me” and the more somber ballad “Nobody’s Fool.” But the entire disc holds everything a glam-head could want. There are a couple of metal-oriented tunes that drive the riffs hard, such as “Push, Push” or the speed-inducted “Hell On Wheels.” They’ve also got the cornier pop glazers like “Nothin’ For Nothin,’” or the better crafted “Somebody Save Me.” Tom’s raspy falsettos go very well with both approaches, and the whiny screeches and cold opening with the title track give us a spectacular start.
Final Grade: A
Long Cold Winter (1988)
Cinderella’s first album is the most straightforward, but I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t an obvious filler or two (which is ok). Long Cold Winter doesn’t have any of that, keeping things focused while incorporating huge radio hits. “Gypsy Road” was the heavy one from this, built similarly to its counterpart, “Shake Me.” But the melodies, lyrics, and songwriting all stepped up a level. “Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)” is an incredible power ballad, cemented on piano rhythms and epic build. Most people know that one by now, but the other ballad “Coming Home” is even stronger, adding acoustics, a heavy chorus, and a strong finish. Emotion takes higher priority with this record, which pulsates through the pretty melodies of “The Last Mile” and “Take Me Back.” Jeff LaBar’s leads even took a step up here, dominating a lot of the title track and the licks on “Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin’ Apart At The Seems.” The latter opens on a folky twang before busting into the heavier riffs, also starting on a spectacular note. Not a single complaint to be found. I consider this essential hearing for any fan of rock or metal.
Final Grade: A+
Heartbreak Station (1990)
If the title doesn’t give it away, Heartbreak Station greater emphasizes emotion, particularly sadder passages, and life reflection. While many glam bands at this time were trying to fit in with the grunge scene, Cinderella took their own path, much like W.A.S.P. did. “One For Rock ‘N Roll” is a full-on folk song, giving a totally different feel than anything the band had ever done. “Winds Of Change” is less upbeat but further drives that idea, and even heavier ones like “Shelter Me” incorporate a similar attitude. The twanginess and acoustics make those songs stand out. The title track is one of the most depressing songs the band ever did, based off of a breakup and the pit of sorrow that’s felt upon it. Opener “The More Things Change” is a lot of fun, throwing in extra instrumentation over their older, heavy ideas. This may seem inconsistent, but the raw production puts the icing on the cake. This record gets unfairly overlooked, and I love so much that the band did their own thing here.
Final Grade: A-
Still Climbing (1994)
The final Cinderella album is a self-aware one, and it brings the least amount of new ideas. But Still Climbing uses that to their advantage and takes from the entire platter. Catchiness is the main objective for a lot of this, and the chorus of “Blood From A Stone” is one of my favorites for that reason. “Hot And Bothered” was the only song to get much recognition, a groovy closer that feels like a return to form. But there’s plenty of emotion to get here, whether it be from the hope-drenched “Through The Rain” or the touching “Hard To Find The Words.” Another aspect of this is drawing out the heavier tunes, which helps and hurts depending where it’s used. Admittedly, this could have used some trimming, but it’s a serviceable listen and worth owning.
Final Grade: B+