By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
CINDERELLA – NIGHT SONGS (1986)
It has been 32 years since the release of Cinderella’s debut album Night Songs and with the benefit of all that time having passed, hindsight is indeed 20/20.
I owned the album back when it was released but I have to say that beyond the three best known songs on the album (“Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool” and “Somebody Save Me”), I remember being rather unimpressed by the material. The album just sat in my collection gathering dust until I got rid of it. For me, it was their third album, Heartbreak Station, that did the trick for me. That album remains my favorite release from the group.
But on a recent music buying excursion, I came across both Night Songs and Long Cold Winter on cassette and figured I had to pick them up and give a new listen to the album to see what I thought. What I found was that time has seemingly improved my taste because I have a newfound love of Night Songs.
Despite having a classic rock and straight up metal sound, the band was cast alongside the rest of the 80’s glam metal era. It might just have been a function of the prevailing tastes of the time, but it does strike me now as a big mistake.
The title track opens the album and while the uptempo pacing of the track gives an immediate jolt of energy to the listener, I wasn’t blown away by it. I thought it wasn’t the song to best represent the band. But the next two songs were “Shake Me” and “Nobody’s Fool”, so suddenly the album was kicked into a higher gear. “Shake Me” was the first single released off the album and though it didn’t make the singles chart, it is simply a great in your face rocker. As for “Nobody’s Fool”, that was a monster hit on the charts and is pretty much the main reason why the album is now certified triple platinum. It’s the only song that can legitimately be thought of as a “power ballad”, but it is actually quite a bit more weighty than the more cloying aspects of the song genre.
I really dug the album track “Nothin’ For Nothin'”, which was another quickly paced song. The first side of the album closed out with “Once Around The Ride”. It’s another rocker and musically speaking, I really loved the track. It’s got a really good guitar solo. The only thing that holds back a full throated endorsement of the song from me is that I didn’t like the phrasing on the vocals during the chorus.
The second side of Night Songs opens with two hugely entertaining rockers. “Hell On Wheels” may not be a “greatest hit” track for the band, but I loved it. And “Somebody Save Me” might be one of the best known songs the band has but listening to it for this article gave me a newfound appreciation and love of the song.
All the songs on the album are written by frontman Tom Keifer and this new spin of the album has also opened my eyes more than I could’ve expected to his songwriting ability. This aspect of his talent may have gotten overshadowed in the 80’s metal era of excess, but the guy can write!
Side two of the album is actually all killer, no filler if you really want to know the truth. I loved the bouncy rhythm to “In From The Outside”, the straight up rocking nature of “Push, Push” and I think the closing “Back Home Again” is the best example of the direction the band would take for Heartbreak Station. The more focused bluesy sound shines through a lot on this track and left me wondering how I managed to not clearly see what the band was all about the first time around.
I’m not a fan of change. I like being in a rut and freely acknowledge that I’m a creature of habit. But on occasion, change is a good thing when it opens your eyes to something you should’ve seen the first time around. When it was originally released I didn’t think all that much of Night Songs. After three plus decades, I’ve found that I’ve come around and have to declare that I was apparently everybody’s fool all these years because this album is chock full of prime rock and roll. If you haven’t heard the album in years or never listened to it at all, you’d be doing yourself a favor by discovering for yourself exactly what I’m talking about here.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Drummer Fred Coury joined the band after the recording of the album. All drum tracks for the album were played by Jody Cortez. Cortez has played with the liked of Boz Scaggs, David Crosby, Christopher Cross and a host of other acts since his time in Cinderella.
The keyboards on the album were played by Jeff Paris. Among his credits, he co-wrote Vixen’s two biggest hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin'”.
Jon Bon Jovi provided backing vocals on “Nothin’ For Nothin'” and “In From The Outside”.