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Cinderella – Once Around The Ride… Then & Now

Today’s review is an ambitious one. I played 25 tracks to get ‘er done! Go get yourself a beer or two. We’re gonna be here for a while…

Brother Mike Lebrain gave me this set, under unique circumstances. He was wanting to rip the discs, and his computer (oddly) wouldn’t handle the job. So he sent it to me, because my iMac wears a superhero cape on a daily basis and can rip just about anything. And sure enough, it handled these discs with ease. I went to send the burned copy and original back to him, and he said to just keep the original. He’s awesome like that.

I don’t know from Cinderella. I mean, I know roughly who they are, but could I name a single song? Not off the top of my head. They weren’t even close to within range of what I heard back when this sort of thing was huge. I heard a lot of Poison, Motley, and so on. Not so much Cinderella. So this will be a fun experiment!

Did some digging around online, could not even find this release. So, for the sake of reference, it’s on Mercury/Polygram, 1990, CDP 427. On the bottom of the back cover, tastefully printed as though it’s a part of the actual packaging, it does indicate that this is a promotional copy. 

NB: This 2CD collection pulls from four different releases, so I’ve marked off the sections with an *. I hope it makes sense, as you read along.

Ready? Me too! Give ‘er!

* Starting with CD1, titled “Then,” the first six tracks are from a disc called Night Songs…

Night Songs is pure AC/DC vocals over a heavy as hell blues stomper. Somebody Save Me picks up the pace a bit and sounds like any other of ten 80s hair metal songs you can name (right down to the guitar solo). Nobody’s Fool is the heavy rock ballad track. No acoustic guitars, but paced the same. Get out your lighters! And wow, I think I just showed my age there, I think the whippersnappers use their cell phones as lights at shows these days…

Once Around The Ride is a faster, slinky rocker with throat-blistering vocals. Great big guitar solo here, too. Fun! Up next is Push, Push which is another tight leather pants and big hair rocker. It’d be a lot of fun in a live setting. And finally, Shake Me is the “alright! yeah!” cowbell butt-shaker track. If this song has a video, I’ll bet he’s on a concert stage, doing a funky Steve Tyler dance while doing suggestive things to his microphone stand. Not to mock it, though. This one’s a real fist-pumper of a track.

* Still on CD1, the next six tracks are pulled from a disc called Long Cold Winter…

Wow, the transition between tracks from two albums is seamless. Gypsy Road could have been on the last one. I like the guitar line here. Have to admit, I’m kind of tired of this guy’s vocals by now. It’s all the same pitch and approach, no matter what the song is doing. I wonder if he talks like that, if you met him on the street. That’d be a trip.

Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) is a song I know! This got played at school dances. I gotta takeback what I said at the top, about not knowing any tracks… Pretty song, but those vocals really don’t fit it at all. Yeah, this one is surely familiar. Typical slow-dance grope music. I used to laugh at how couples would dance all lovey to this song, not paying any attention at all to what he’s saying in the lyrics…

Last Mile is a mid-tempo rocker that they play pretty straight. It still has those guitars to it, though, which helps those backing vocals not sound quite so cheesy. Long Cold Winter is a blues-drenched track. Oh, I like this music, but man those vocals trash it. Brutal. Sorry, but that’s bad.   Shame too, this is the first track that steps outside of that ‘sound in which they’ve been stuck thus far.

Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At The Seams starts with acoustic pickin’ and some slide, with harmonica. We’re still in blues mode, here. Oh thank goodness, he’s not singing like he’s a cat being strangled… oh crap, it picks up and away he goes. I really wish they had kept that a simpler track. It occasionally gets fairly far away from its bluesy start too (the chorus, for example), before the guitars bring it back. The guitars are the lifesavers, here. And Coming Home is an acoustic ballad and, hey! He’s not singing in that voice. This is refreshing. Oh crap, he’s doing it again, when the band kicks in. Sigh. Decent track, otherwise, except I think five minutes is two minutes too long for one idea.

* Finishing off CD1, we have two live tracks taken from the Night songs EP…

Shake Me (Live) proves his howl is even worse in a live setting. It’s a decent version of the song I heard early (see above), and I like that they left the mic feedback in, which makes it a bit more real-feeling. But I’ve just now come to realize what bugs me about this guy’s voice. It’s a bad Axl impersonation. At least Axl knows how to modulate, to jump around in pitch and even octaves, while still sounding like himself. This guy has one button and he’s hitting it like a lab mouse on speed. I should look up his name. Tom Keifer. Well, sorry Tom, I’m now having a mental image of you placing your order in a restaurant in that voice. Calling for a nurse, years from now, in the nursing home. “Hey nurse, bay-beeee I neeeed my sponge bath, yow!” And so on.   

Night Songs (Live) isn’t live. Near as I can tell, this is the same as track 1 of this disc. I even went back and checked. My stereo shows it’s playing track 14, but it is track 1 all over again. No crowd noise, identical track. What the hell…?

Well, that’s CD1. Feel free to go, take a leak, get a couple more beers on your way back. There’s ages to go, yet…

* and now we move on to CD 2, titled “Now,” with 10 of its 11 tracks coming from a disc called Heartbreak Station. The only thing that mucks up the works is the second song on this disc, which comes from Long Cold Winter, same as some of the songs on CD1. Now, as to why they put this one track on CD2, and at track 2 of 11, I have no clue. I’ve marked it off with a (?) just so you know it’s there.

The More Things Change is a track I like. I’ve stopped listening to Mr. Keifer and I find this band track to be highly enjoyable. Maybe it’s the saxophone. Or the slide blues guitar. Hell, this could be a Stones-inspired song. That’s probably why I like it. 

(?) Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time is very funky and still rockin’, with a horn section. Me likey! Wait, are those freakin’ bongo drums? Oh man…

Shelter Me has another nice slide acoustic blues intro. What’s that boinging noise, a jews harp? The  liner notes don’t say. Anyway. The band kicks in and it becomes another Stones-homage track. Which is of course why I like it. Heartbreak Station is another acoustic ballad. The band does join in, but only lightly so. This is a pretty one all the way through. And finally! He’s not howling all the time! Wonders never cease! I’ve only listened to 17 other tracks to get here! But seriously, “she took the last train out of my heart…”? Haha oh man. That sounds painful.

Sick For The Cure is another bluesy Stones-ish rocker, if Axl was doing karaoke… I like the slide guitar. Cowbell! Needs more cowbell! I really liked this song, I like that they like the blues. One For Rock & Roll starts out with hokey lyrics over strummed acoustic and a pedal steel. As expected, the band kicks in and it’s a thumper. Is that a mandolin? I think it is! I liked the first 2:15 of this track, they should’ve just let that be enough, maybe messed around a bit more with that and left it. There are bits I like about the remaining half of the song, but whatever. No one asks me thiese things.

Hey, are these guys from the southern States, somewhere? They sure have packed this disc with a lot of bluesy stuff… nope, Wiki says Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania. Not what I was expecting. Oh well. Not that they can’t play the blues in Clifton Heights. In fact, I think they should. It’s just my own damn brain that assumed further south than Pennsylvania, hearing them play like this. I suppose it’s a compliment? Take it that way, boys.

Dead Man’s Road starts out with an awesome acoustic blues. Of course, the band kicks in and rocks it up. But this time it’s actually cool. It stomps and flails a bit, and those damn guitars carry all that weight like a mule. I’d put this one on a mix CD, for sure. Very nice, I’d even call this one a highlight track… Make Your Own Way brings back the cowbell and the full Axl impersonation. It’s a rocker, and it goes for it well enough.

Electric Love brings out the bongos again, and is actually pretty funky. After a while, it starts to sound a bit like Aerosmith. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Cool enough track. Love Gone Bad is a faster rocker that has some 80s pop sensibilities to it. Can’t quite put my finger on what it sounds like, to me, but it’s soething… I can see a video for this being on Video Hits, if it were a single. Was it? Who knows. Helluva guitar solo here, too. Interesting how it cuts back to half-time towards the end. It changes things up nicely. And finally, Winds Of Change is not a Scorpions cover, and I don’t know if it’s a cover of anyone else. It’s an acoustic track about life, and how things change so fast. Aw.

Well, that’s it. Whew!

You know, if it were up to me, I’d have made an EP or an album, even, of all the bluesier tracks, especially those on CD2. But nobody ever asks me about this stuff. 

In sum: I liked Cinderella, based on this compilation. I liked the band. I did get tired of Keifer’s vocals, after a while. Did I mention that, in the review? I can’t recall… Anyway, it’s the only downside. This band knows how to play, how to rock, and they do it well. 

Thanks heaps to Mike Lebrain for this 2CD marathon of an introduction to a band!

And thank you, Readers, for toughing it out and making it all the way to the bottom of this rambling post.

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