Thursday, July 16, 2009



A ridiculously boiling hot day. Nuts. And I was one of many who were seeking shelter from the swelter by browsing the vinyl of the Camelot Record Store in the Wausau Center Mall. Some prototypical dance-synth-pop had just faded over the in-store sound system. I don't remember what the cut was and why would I after 20 years?

A gust of acoustic blues starts shortly thereafter and it grabs me. Not because it so different stylistically from the garbage that just ended, but because it's a bona fide hook. The vocals start, a gruff tone that knifes through the riff like William Wallaces broadsword through one of King Lonshanks' thugs. For a brief moment I question it.

"Indeed, is this old Stones?"

Then the METAL starts, a thudding riff that is the distorted electric twin of the acoustic blues that opened the track. The mournful swoon that voiced the lyrics previously has become a screeching falsetto. Damn, I know that voice.

That's Tom Kiefer. And this is Cinderella.

I bought the album, "Long Cold Winter" based upon the opening 60 seconds of a song called "Bad Seamstress Blues". Still listening to it to this day. As a matter of fact I still have that vinyl copy.

There were a lot, and I mean a lot of hair metal bands in the 80's. Most were awful.

But Cinderella wasn't just a good hair metal band, indeed in my opinion they were the best of all of them, they were a damn fine rock and roll band. "Long Cold Winter" is a track by track resume of why.

"Bad Seamstress Blues" is a kicking rock metal blues song, as strong an opener as there was in the 80's. All hair metal bands needed their ballad and the one here is far better than any of the claptrap snoozers put out by Winger, Poison, or Motley Crue. "Don't Know What You Got", (laugh if you must) is a nice melody with some well executed lyrics and chorus. It is mournful, like it or not. Tom Kiefer was a damn fine songwriter, and shouldn't be grouped in with the Nikki Sixxs, Bret Michaels, and Kip Wingers of the world.

Further proof of Kiefer's versatility is when his voice becomes a baritone for the first verse of "Coming Home", a country song, yes you read right, and the bastards pull it off. The title track is almost as good a ballad as "Dont Know". "Gypsy Road", "Fire and Ice", and especially "Fallin Apart at the Seams" are all great rockers, better than most of the metal SINGLES of the time period.

Kiefer, along with vet Andy Johns, and bassist Eric Brittingham produced the album. This goes a little ways more in exemplifying why he wasn't your average heavy metal bear. Not too many hair metal (getting sick of that term here) purveyors were producing their own records.

20 years later, Cinderella is still by and large grouped in with the Aqua Net Aquanauts of those Heavy Metal Knights of Olde, and to me, it's a shame.

Cinderella was indeed the one band of all the goobers that showed up for the Big Dance who fit into the glass slipper.

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