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CINDERELLA
YOU SHALL GO TO THE BALL

   It's funny; the All Music Guide (www.AllMusic.com) biographies of most hair bands are fairly generous. Even if they can't say much nice about the band in question, such as with Warrant, they will point out what successes they had (in Warrant's case consecutive double-platinum albums). Cinderella, however, the AMG bio calls "Packaged like a second rate Bon Jovi imitation" playing "standard lite metal without much distinction." The writer hasn't done much research either, suggesting that disappointing sales for Heartbreak Station were behind the band's hiatus in the early '90s. With only a modicum of reading, he could have discovered that singer Tom Keifer blew out his voice after one too many screams, taking quite some time for his throat to recover, and drummer Fred Coury left the band, delaying the release of Still Climbing.
   Let me set the record straight then: 1) Cinderella were one of the most successful bands of the hair metal era. Their first two albums went triple platinum and their third went platinum. 2) Although Cinderella were playing hard rock with pop hooks, much to Def Leppard's annoyance, their sound was really more influenced by AC/DC and Aerosmith, a bluesy element which made Cinderella a lot more authentic than the poppier factions of hair metal. The AMG writer, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, also describes Keifer's voice as an "exaggerated Steven Tyler howl." Steven Tyler? Tom Keifer's scream has that AC/DC-ish quality about it, only Keifer's version is a less palatable, more grating noise. It suits the music but during the tender ballads it does start to sound ridiculous. A lot of people hate his voice, but it didn't stop Cinderella breaking big.
   Anyway, having your first two albums go triple platinum is a major achievement. Having one multi-platinum album is cool, but a second proves it wasn't a flash in the pan and also solidifies your fanbase. I mean, if a band puts out one CD you like, you can't really call yourself a fan, but if they do two good CDs in a row then you're likely to check out their next one too. Cinderella were signed on the recommendation of Jon Bon Jovi, who also got Skid Row their big break (a long story). Anyway, it's funny that Bon Jovi should have scouted two of hair metal's biggest bands when his skills as an A&R man are by his own admission limited: He didn't think "Livin' on a Prayer" was strong enough to deserve a place on
Slippery When Wet. These days, of course, Jon is busy trying to be trendy and a star in order to ensure his band's continued success, so he usually distances himself from bands like Cinderella. Not at all fickle, are we Jon?
   Cinderella came relatively close to a comeback in 2000. A&R wizard John Kalodner (check the sleeves of CDs by Aerosmith, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Asia, Bon Jovi and many others for his name) was trying a little experiment on his Portrait label (an imprint of Sony Music). He signed up a bunch of successful '80s bands and gave them medium-sized recording budgets in the hope that the combination of their old fans and a little radio support would give the bands gold records. Cinderella were among the chosen ones, along with Ratt, Damn Yankees, and Great White. Ratt's and Great White's albums saw the light of day, although neither of them sold anything. Damn Yankees were unhappy with the mix of their album and refused to release it, and Cinderella got dropped before they released any new studio materal… I guess because the label had done so badly with the releases from the other artists. Still, for a brief moment at the end of 1999 it looked like hair metal was coming back, only this time without the hideous image -- a killer combination. It was not to be. Cinderella's last release was
Live at the Key Club, and they're yet another band doing nostalgia package tours every summer.

BEST ALBUM: Debut Night Songs and its follow-up Long Cold Winter are both strong efforts, but the general consensus is Night Songs takes the tape. You can't go far wrong with either though; assuming you get on with Keifer's voice they're a great band. I haven't heard 1994's Still Climbing though and I want to since I've heard it described as both a strong comeback and a disappointment. I saw it second hand for a good price once but I didn't have the money to spare. Doh.

Official website: www.cinderella.net

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