Album review: CINDERELLA – The Mercury Years

CINDERELLA - The Mercury Years

Caroline Records [Release date 28.09.18]

US rock band Cinderella formed in the early 80s, and had some notable success in the late 80s and early 90s. And a great live band they were too. They split in the mid 90s, and there’s been reformations, compilations and live sets since, and this set completes that original run of 4 albums with loads of bonuses.  And wonderfully packaged it is too.

Lots of gigging, and building up quite a fanbase, by 1986 the line-up featured vocalist/guitarist/pianist Tom Keifer, guitarist Jeff LaBar and bassist Eric Brittingham.

Their debut album Night Songs featured Jody Cortez, with credited drummer Fred Coury joining shortly after the album’s completion. The album also featured guest appearances from guitarist Barry Bennedetta, keyboard player Jeff Paris (who had a noted career in his own right), and on a couple of tracks Jon Bon Jovi on backing vocals. The album is a very solid mix of mid 80s rock/metal with some glam touches, and in one or two places the kind of boogie that Hair Metallers Poison threw about. A strong MTV presence and a support slot with Bon Jovi helped.  A very worthy debut.

1988’s Long Cold Winter saw the band move in a slight blues rock/hard rock direction, and this album is an absolute classic by any standards. Think early 70s Humble Pie, Deep Purple and Aerosmith for influences. Again Fred Coury doesn’t play on the album despite being a full time band member, the drums handled by Cozy Powell and Joseph Starns. Other guests include guitarist Jay Levin, and keyboard players Rick Criniti, Kurt Shore and John Webster. Gypsy Road was a classic, a live staple and a minor hit, while Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Till It’s Gone was the band’s highest charting hit. Four singles, and the album went triple platinum – things were good for Cinderella and rightly so. This album I’d recommend to anyone.  And everyone.

Their 3rd album Heartbreak Station (1990) featured three singles and sold a million copies, and continued in a similar vain, only suffering the same way all classic rock did – at the hands of the abomination called grunge. Shelter Me and the title track both stand out, and amongst the multitude of guests covering percussion, programming, horns, saxophone and keyboards is original Uriah Heep pianist Ken Hensley. It’s an excellent album, but will forever be in the shadow of the band’s second set.

Recorded in 1991, after the live EP, Still Climbing wasn’t released until 1994 (due to vocalist Tom Keifer losing his voice), and sadly didn’t sell so well, largely due to grunge/alternative rock trends, and the lack of promotion from the record company. A shame as it was the grittiest bluesy set thus far. Opener Bad Attitude Shuffle (a minor hit) was by far Cinderella’s highpoint – a blistering groove.

The band have done lots since, there’s been many a live and retrospective release, but this album completes the Mercury years perfectly. The first two discs add a couple of single edits and b-sides apiece, while the third adds 2 tracks previously exclusive to the Greatest Hits. Then the fifth disc adds further single and b-side tracks and the 1991 Japanese only live EP. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Nicely packaged in individual card sleeves, booklet and clamshell box. The label have packaged previous releases like this and it works well. More, please.  *****

Review by Joe Geesin

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 1 August 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week and an interview with “metal queen” Lee Aaron.

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