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 – LONG COLD WINTER (1988)
As I wrote in my write up on the first Cinderella album Night Songs, I really wasn’t all that into the first two albums from the band. However, much like the case with that first album, I’ve had to do a major rethink about Long Cold Winter after listening to it again thirty years after the fact. I suppose better late than never would apply here, but I really need to go back in time and have a long musical discussion with my 18 year old self about the music I ignored.
While Long Cold Winter did have four songs that were released as singles, I can’t remember really being blown away by the rest of the tracks on the album. I loved the hits, but given what at the time I perceived to be just a bunch of filler material to round out the album, the album was doomed to eventually find its way out of my music collection.
Jump forward from 1988 to 2018, and it looks like I owe a large mea culpa to the band…AGAIN! The band started moving even more away from most of the glam sound on this album, even moreso than album #1. This shift was immediately on display with the opening song “Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin’ Apart At The Seams”. The first part of the song was this really cool dead on bluesy intro. Mostly guitar with a little one verse lyrical passage, it really resonated with me and left me with the sinking feeling that I was going to be giving myself a mental head slap when all was said and done. The second part of the song is a rocking stomp that had me writing a note saying “This is a GREAT song!”
I mentioned that there were four songs that got released as singles. The album was front loaded with three of those songs. You had “Gypsy Road,” which despite being the song that charted the lowest out of the four, might just be my favorite song on the entire album. Listening to the album while reading the lyric sheet really gave me that new appreciation for Tom Keifer’s writing ability all over again. Other than one co-writing credit for bassist Eric Brittingham, Keifer wrote all the songs on this album.
When the band initially released “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone),” I kind of found myself annoyed by it. However, as I listened to it now, I got the chance to go deeper into the lyrics and found myself suddenly being really digging the song. It was like I was hearing it with new ears or something. Maybe because the lyrics resonated with me due to my pathetically sad social life at this current point in life, but whatever the reason. I actually enjoyed the song a lot.
And you can’t leave out “The Last Mile”, another rocking run through for the band. I do have to say that I was kind of disappointed by the closing song on the first side of the album. It’s called “Second Wind” but it actually did more to take the wind out of the sails of the album for a bit. It’s got a cool guitar solo and a long musical outro, but otherwise there was something missing with this number and I found myself feeling adrift while listening to the song.
The title track of the album opens up side two and while it had some really ballsy guitar work, I thought it failed to establish what seemed to be a moody atmospheric feel to the song. It left me cold (no pun intended) and I instantly hoped things would not be headed in the wrong direction with the rest of Side Two.
Thankfully, my fears were unfounded as “If You Don’t Like It” roared out of the speakers, with its butt-kicking ferociousness giving an instant jolt of energy. I really liked how the lyrics were so defiant and in your face.
“Coming Home” was a mid tempo power ballad and the album’s third single. I enjoyed the song then and now. “Fire and Ice” was a bit of a surprise for me because it definitely fell under the banner of filler for me when I first listened to this album back in the day. But whether it was the song or myself that matured over the last three decades, the track has grown on me.
Cinderella closed out Long Cold Winter with a bang on the track “Take Me Back”. It’s a lyrical nostalgia trip down memory lane set to a rocking soundtrack. It’s a flat out great song but what really got me excited was how Keifer’s vocals/lyrics really flowed throughout the track, particularly on the chorus.
It seems that once again, I’ve unearthed evidence that I failed to appreciate what was right in front of me all these years. While the notion of filler material isn’t completely dispelled for me because of the two songs I still really could do without, Long Cold Winter is actually far better than I ever gave it credit for upon its original release.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The album initially went double platinum and was eventually certified triple platinum.
While Fred Coury was the drummer for Cinderella, like the first album, he did not play a single note on Long Cold Winter. Instead, the drums were recorded by Denny Carmassi (Heart) and Cozy Powell (Rainbow, amongst a host of other notable bands).