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Cinderella: Long Cold Winter - Album Of The Week Club review

Cinderella shifted gear on second album Long Cold Winter, as Tom Keifer attempted to move forward before both the band and the scene got left behind

Cinderella: Long Cold Winter
(Image: © Mercury Records)
Cinderella: Long Cold Winter

Cinderella: Long Cold Winter

(Image credit: Mercury Records)

Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin' Apart at the Seams
Gypsy Road
Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)
The Last Mile
Second Wind
Long Cold Winter
If You Don't Like It
Coming Home
Fire and Ice
Take Me Back

With their debut album Night Songs, Cinderella seemed happy to offer up some unchallenging ear candy to go with their ultra-glam looks. But, perhaps sensing a change in the air, singer Tom Keifer attempted to shift gears before both the band and the scene got left behind. 

Cinderella abandoned the cheery hair metal of Night Songs for an album of darkness and depth, although it was still a mile away from grunge. Gypsy Road and The Last Mile are perfectly pitched cock-rock, while Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Til It’s Gone) is a tearful, heart-on-sleeve ballad. The tone, though, is adult, and it marked the arrival of Tom Keifer as a writer of some talent.

“I didn’t see it that way, but people accused us of changing our style from record to record,” Keifer says with a shrug. “To me it was a progression; we became better musicians and learned how to paint landscapes, using Dobros, pianos and harmonicas to build up the colours. The writing style didn’t change at all because it was all based on the blues, country and gospel – the ups and downs of life, or falling in and out of love."

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Other albums released in May 1988

  • Melissa Etheridge - Melissa Etheridge
  • Open Up and Say... Ahh! - Poison
  • Operation: Mindcrime - Queensrÿche
  • Scenes from the Southside - Bruce Hornsby and the Range
  • New Order - Testament
  • Lovesexy - Prince
  • Invisible Lantern - Screaming Trees
  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 - Frank Zappa
  • Battalions of Fear - Blind Guardian
  • In the City of Angels - Jon Anderson
  • Ram It Down - Judas Priest
  • Vivid - Living Colour
  • Out of Order - Rod Stewart
  • Up Your Alley - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • OU812 - Van Halen
  • Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart - Camper Van Beethoven
  • Second Sighting - Frehley's Comet
  • Down in the Groove - Bob Dylan
  • A Bell Is a Cup - Wire
  • Power Metal - Pantera
  • Total Devo - Devo

What they said...

"They still haven’t found their own identity–and probably never will–but I like the raucous noise they come up with on Long Cold Winter. Like the best metal, it’s got a strong blues base, and Tom Kiefer’s vocals have been honed to a fever pitch." (The Georgia Straight

"Long Cold Winter stands as one of the greatest pillars of 80s hard rock, eclipsing Night Songs which is good in its own right and annihilates everything else they ever did. I like Gypsy Road so much that I get pissed off when somebody plays Shake Me or Nobody’s Fool or any other song than Gypsy Road itself. Tom paid the price for his screeching, as the guy can barely talk anymore, but his balls-out approach on this album was probably worth it." (Sputnik Music)

"Cinderella’s Long Cold Winter, to me, is hard rock perfection. It captures the very best of 80s glam metal; injecting it with a refreshing dose of blues at times to create something fairly unique. Keifer is, as always, captivating in every fearsome roar that spills from his lips; gracing us with tales of heartbreak, homesickness and rejecting social conformity." (Splendid Fred)

What you said...

Plamen Agov: Gypsy Road was the first tune that introduced Cinderella as a band to me, sometime during the last months of 1989. I was deeply impressed by the highly specific style of this group. Then, I've got couple more of their songs on self made various bands cassette tape. Unfortunately, the band disappeared during the turbulent time of the 90s and it was not before 2011 when I fully examined their albums.

Long Cold Winter LP starts with three of Cinderella’s most recognisable songs, then till the end of the album the level somehow goes down. Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin' Apart at the Seams, Gypsy Road and the ballad Don't Know What You Got are constant on my playlists. The title song with its heavy blues also can be pointed out. 8/10

John Davidson: Cinderella were one of those ‘also featuring’ bands that were a staple of MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball in the late 80s. But perhaps they can have the last laugh because unlike the bulk of hair metal albums this one remains eminently listenable.

Fallin' Apart At The Seams is a decent opener with some nice bluesy guitar to go with the Nazareth meets Robert Palmer song structure and sets the tone for the bulk of the album.

Next up is Gypsy Road, a song I recall very fondly from those MTV days as it was a cut above the metal ballads that plagued the air waves at the time.

I’m less fond of the other single Don't Know What You Got - which sounds like Dan McCafferty singing a sub-Aerosmith slow dance smoocher, but its not bad if you can set aside the synth strings (which is what ages it more than anything).

Last Mile gets us back on track with an up tempo party rock/hair metal song. Second Wind on the other hand is proper heavy metal and sounds like a long lost Scorpions song as it rips along towards the guitar solo.

Long Cold Winter shows how slow numbers should be performed. It has a bluesy atmosphere and emotional heft rather than the stale whiff of cheesy ballad.

The rest of the album is a solid slice of 80s rock - not quite up there with Tesla, but it largely avoids the hair metal cheese factor so remains enjoyable to the modern ear even if it rarely offers anything remarkable. 7/10.

Mike Canoe: I didn't listen to Cinderella in the '80's beyond osmosis from MTV or radio but have grown to like them at a greatest hits level. Since this album was so supposed to be such an about face from their debut, I gave that one a few virtual spins this week as well.

To my ears, the debut sounds like the squealy, trashy fun of Mötley Crüe circa Theater of Pain. With Long Cold Winter, Cinderella references the superstars of the 70s: Led Zeppelin (title track), Kiss (Coming Home), Aerosmith (pretty much everything else). Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin' Apart At The Seams is a snarling junkyard dog of a song and a great way to open the album. New to me rockers like If You Don't Like It and Second Wind join the familiar Gypsy Road and The Last Mile as anthems to sing along with in the car. While Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) is the Cinderella weeper you are most likely to find on a compilation CD, I enjoy the mid-tempo Coming Home more.

I think Cinderella were still a band finding their sound, which should have been OK, because it was their second album. I think a major downside of the MTV era is that music careers got compressed down to a few years and a handful of albums. Bands that debuted in the second half of the '80's and were marketed similarly - like Poison, Tesla, Faster Pussycat, Skid Row, etc. - all follow a similar career trajectory: Two or three solid upward moving albums, then an album that tanked as the sonic blast from the Pacific Northwest levelled every band in its path. But then the same thing happened to most of the grunge bands and each subsequent new music scene after that. Video may have killed the radio star, but it wasn't always so great to the video stars either.

Iain Macaulay: Now that’s a weird coincidence. I listened to this album last week after it came up on my Spotify list. I had completely forgotten about them. I wasn’t really a fan back in the day but I had friends who were. I was more into the sleazy Faster Pussycat, Hanoi Rocks punky type glam than this spandex, white baseball boots and puffy hair type glam. 

But, listening now, I can say it’s actually pretty good. It’s not a consistent listen in the songwriting stakes by any means, but I get it now. It’s a good fun party album. The production is great, in that its not completely 80s. You can hear and feel the bass for a start which is always a bonus in these types of albums. There is also a lot more serious musicianship and credibility hidden behind those costumes than I noticed at the time. A lot more AC/DC than the New York Dolls. Other than the ballad, which sounds a touch ‘Heart’, or ‘Desmond Child’ like. And I can live without it. 

There’s a fantastic start to the album with the slide and that simple riff. I find The Last Mile is a tad over wrought in the chorus. Second wind is a great driving song. Long cold winter may have touches of Zeppelin but that guitar is more Gary Moore than Jimmy Page to me and I can even picture Gary singing it. Saying that, there is quite a ‘British’ feel to a few of the songs. The blues rock ones. It’s not until you hear the next album heartbreak station that you realise this is a transition album, and you can see where the blues rock tracks were leading them. And those are the tracks that stand out best and pack the most credible punch. The band knew where their strength lay and went on to play it very well.

Carl Black: I have to say that it's a bit laboured and a bit tired. The songwriting is not of the quality that I remember. And it just seems to plod into a bit of nothingness. Standout feature us Tom Keifer's gravelly voice. Very distinct and unique. It's more gravelly than a gravel path leading down to the sea on Bognor seafront. 

Chris Downie: When coupled together, the words "hair" and "metal" trigger widespread revulsion on a level rarely rivalled by any other 80s cultural phenomenon and in the post-grunge climate evokes memories of a bygone relic of the decade akin to Jeremy Beadle and Jimmy Savile. That Cinderella were lumped into this category however, is something of a musical miscarriage of justice.

Spurred on by an excellent debut album (reminiscent of a glammed-up AC/DC) and a dalliance with Bon Jovi, they avoided the sophomore slump so widely accursed of their peers and produced an album with real depth. From the ominous bluesy intro Bad Seamstress Blues... they set out their stall and the quality is consistent throughout, with the likes of Gypsy Road and Second Wind providing weight to their repertoire, which was nicely rounded out by the power balladry of Coming Home.

There is little to fault on this album and it stands up as a highlight of its time and space. They would of course go further with the bluesy vibes on impressive follow-up Heartbreak Station, but faltered on fourth effort Still Climbing which, despite its moments, marked a creative downward trend at the wrong time, as 1994 saw the grunge / alternative scene in full swing. It is sad that, despite intermittent reunions, they haven't recorded a fifth album, but they can be proud in the knowledge that their initial run - of which Long Cold Winter is the highlight - left an indelible mark on rock music.

Happs Richards: I’ve always had a soft spot for this lot ever since I saw them supporting Judas Priest on the Ram It Down tour.

Now it did seem like a massive mismatch at the time, but the Cinderella boys made enough of an impression that I bought my own copy of Long Cold Winter and instantly fell for the whole blues’y feel of the album, which was so different from many of the “hair metal bands” of the time.

This in my humble opinion is Cinderella at their very best, I’ve loved an excuse to drag this album out again and play it loud, not sure the rest of the family are so grateful though.

Robert Dunn: OK, hands up, I was wrong. At the time, I dismissed Cinderella as just another dumb 80s hair metal band with glam tendencies so never really gave them a chance. I was never that impressed by RATT, W.A.S.P., Motley Crue etc. so never really listened to Cinderella. However this album came as a pleasant surprise, I actually quite enjoyed listening to it. The first song got off to a great start, a great nod to the roots of the music, and after that it settled into a comfortable, if slightly familiar, set of songs. 

What I would say is that although the songs were catchy and the musicianship more than competent, there was nothing here that really caught my ear until the last track, Take Me Back. It may be my extreme fondness for Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog, but you can't beat a bit of cowbell to give a song a groove. The rest seemed to be bit samey and safe, but not at all bad. I may even go and check out some of their other stuff.

Philip Qvist: Here's the thing; in early 1989 I walked into the local record store (yes, those shops did exist once upon a time) and the owner, knowing my love for rock, recommended this album. I heard a couple a songs and bought it.

The first song Bad Seamstress Blues / Falling Apart At The Seams grabbed my attention and so did Gypsy Road, but after that one song seemed to slide into the next one - without leaving any impression. I liked the title track a lot and one or two other tracks - Coming Home being one of them - but after giving it a few spins it went to the bottom of the record collection; never to be heard again - until now. 

I never hated the album but I never got to love it either. Not sure why, because the songs are well crafted, but maybe it wasn't for me. Even now, listening to it now for the first time in 30 years it is missing something for me. Not bland, not bad but not grab me by the throat exciting either.

That said I did like the Heartbreak Station single from their following album. Sorry, I tried. I give this a good 7/10, but nothing more than that.

Alex Hayes: Anyone even vaguely familiar with my regular musings as a contributor to this Club will probably not be surprised in the slightest to learn that I think Long Cold Winter is an absolutely great album. Shocker, eh?

That's not just nostalgia talking either, although there are shades of it here admittedly. I'm an 80s kid, so the different rock and metal scenes from those years all left some kind of lasting impression on me, including hair metal. I'm certainly not blind to its faults. I can openly acknowledge that it will never match up to the 'gold standard' classic rock of the 70s. However, it was terrific fun to grow up alongside and I'm still proud to call myself a fan of many of the bands from that period. I will always stand up to defend this music from its detractors.

Not that Long Cold Winter really needs such vindication. The quality and consistency of its songs, plus the rootsier, blues-rock direction that Cinderella were headed down musically with it, ensure that it remains a classic irrespective of which year it got released. I happened to recently listen to the album back to back with Ratt's Invasion Of Your Privacy. I dig both albums but, yeah, there's a big difference there.

There were some great albums released in 1988 (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II, Operation: Mindcrime, to name just three). Long Cold Winter does not look out of place on that list. It's loaded with great tracks (Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin' Apart At The Seams, Gypsy Road, The Last Mile, the title track), all delivered by a band that really brought their 'A' game to the proceedings (session musicians included).

I actually rate this album's sequel, 1990's Heartbreak Station, just as highly. All four of Cinderella's albums are well worth a listen though. They were one of the standout bands of that scene, one that should have created a much larger body of work than they eventually managed. Alas, things didn't work out that way.

And to anyone out there that isn't a fan, I'll let some of Tom Keifer's lyrics from the album close out the review (words that could almost constitute a personal manifesto) - 'If you don't like it/Hit the road cause I just-just-just don't care'.

Roland Bearne: Still after all these years as Bad Seamstress kicks into Fallin' Apart I get a surge of adrenaline and the hairs on my arms stand to full honour guard attention! Night Songs has some blinding moments, Heartbreak Station is cooler but pretty much flawless, but Long Cold Winter just just stamps a Cinderella brand "Justin Boot" right between the eyes. 

In a way it might have been more of a debating point to choose the stunning and criminally overlooked Still Climbing, but that's by the by. Definitely more organic and "them" than Night Songs, the pop metal element is still there but this sounds like they're hitting that vibe with Telecasters and Zemaitis rather than Jackson and BC Rich. The pop metal vibe is obviously still there but heavy blues and a whiff of midwest cornfields also spice the pot. For me they, i.e. Kieffer (a friend of mine named his son that!) Is one of the best songwriters to emerge in this era. For me, not a duff song on this and if you're looking for filler, forget it, the set ends with Take Me Back which has MTV / Headbangers Ball single tattooed all over it. Bloody marvellous!

Uli Hassinger: Cinderella got very fast rid of the kinky clothes and the extreme teased hair and emancipate from their hair metal period. Their debut was not bad at all, but it was not outstanding compared to other records of the genre. To expand their musical level and spice it up with stone cold blues was a great idea. The next album (Heartbreak station) perfect that idea and was even stronger.

The highlight of the album is the opener. It starts with traditional acoustic blues and when it switches over to the electric guitar slide intro of Falling Apart... it still sends shivers down my spine. The combination of a traditional blues tune with a straight rocking song is just perfect and works for me till today.

The other songs to mention are the ballads Don't Know What You Got and Coming Home, both classic make out songs of the time, and the title track Long cold winter. Still a very enjoyable listening. For me 8/10.

Greg Schwepe: Long Cold Winter is a good combination of 80% Night In The Ruts-era Aerosmith and 20% standard 80s power ballads. And not a bad combination at that; 8 out of 10. Tom Kiefer’s Brian Johnson-like raspy croak is A-OK with me!

Cinderella are one of those bands that I wish I heard first and not seen. Pretty sure the first time I heard (and saw!) them was on MTV. And the record company probably led with the power ballad, because they had to keep up with the Joneses at the time.

And my first impression was probably seeing the “Standard Power Ballad Video Format” which usually saw a band playing in some abandoned warehouse. The floor usually had about a half inch of water on it so it reflected "just right" for the camera. And midway through the video the hot chick with the black leather mini-skirt sauntered across the floor in front of the band with a distant look in her eyes like they weren’t even there. You know, that same video you saw for every type of band like this.

So, because of that I probably immediately wrote off Cinderella; because I’d seen too many others like them. And I probably vented at my TV, sounding like the Appliance Store character from the Money For Nothing video; “look at them yo-yo’s…”

But, had I heard Gypsy Road first, I might have had a whole other perception of the band. A totally rockin’ kind of blues-based vibe that is great for cranking! You either like or hate Tom Kiefer’s vocals. You’ve got varied guitar styles; a little slide, a bunch of power chords, nice acoustic, some wanky leads (but not too much 80s shredding/wanking!). It’s all there. And the power ballads don’t seem that cheesy, like some of the ones Cinderella’s brethren put out. And the rest of the lyrics are not as sophomoric as some of the other stuff of that era.

I found myself listening to this several times over and standouts for me are Gypsy Road, The Last Mile and If You Don’t Like It. And yes, I like the power ballad stuff too.

Good sophomore effort from the band. I did not own any Cinderella CDs until a few years ago. Read an interview with Tom Kiefer on a classic rock website and thought I’d give them another try. Purchased a compilation CD and got to hear many rocking songs for the first time. If only that had been my first impression of the band!

Terje Rognli: The title track is an absolute belter! One of the few 80s' albums that still kinda sticks with me, survived the test of time (weird, considered its years and years since I last played this record. But I often think about getting it on CD/mp3). It's the title track that really does it for me. Only a couple of songs that aren't really good, but, 8/10.

Alexander Taylor: What a fantastic album. Cinderella proved they make the jump from hair metal to classic blues rock. It's such a shame Tom's voice went south, and coupled with grunge spangled their career.

Nicolas Sampson: Long Cold Winter was musically more complex and mature, but their debut had all the energy and charm. I go back to it often. Long Cold Winter, not so much.

Steve Padilla: Long Cold Winter is a great album! The singles weren’t even the best part of it. The song Long Cold Winter is blues metal at its finest, love the solo! This band proved to be so much more than the hair metal band of its debut album.

Jacob Tannehill: Even though I love hair metal, and most albums by groups in the genre I still listen to most of them, but they didn’t age well. Here is the absolute exception.

This album was 180-degree turn from the first album. I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. The album runs like a classic 70’s album. Oh, and it was produced by Andy Johns - who was a major contributor to classic 70’s albums.

So many styles on this album. From the dobro of the Bad Seamstress Blues/Falling Apart At The Seams kicking you in the face starting the album. Bluesy style in the title track, The 70’s grand style of Don’t Know What You’ve got (Til It’s Gone). The country rock of Comin’ Home. Aerosmith swagger of If You Don’t Like It. I could go on and on. The album ends with one of my favourite rockers, Take Me Back. Almost all of the non singles are outstanding. Second Wind and Fire And Ice are great rockers. Not a bad song in the bunch.

I’m not even a fan of the first album. Night Songs and Long Cold Winter are two different bands. If they were active in the 70’s they would have been even bigger than they were in the 80’s.

Kevin Miller: I recently posted that I no longer enjoy the albums that were so big in the hair metal era. This band is an exception. I still love their music and while the gravel damaged Tom’s voice, it really stands out from the hyper smooth, almost feminine voices that were so popular at the time and that has kept me coming back to the first few Cinderella albums.

Chris Perrins: Gypsy Road was always a good sing/shout along after a few beers. Don’t know what you got, although quite a formulaic power ballad, sits head and shoulders above its contemporaries such as Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home. It was Cinderella’s peak for me, didn’t like Heartbreak Station as much. A good blend of hair metal and blues.

Tito Lesende Galán: It wouldn't be fair to say that this album changed anything in contemporary hard rock music. But, dude, it works and it sounds true to Kiefer's roots. I dug Cinderella's first album, though I used to love it more when they played it loud in late night bars and pubs. But then Long Cold Winter came and it pulled something inside of us kids. For many, it was the first approach to the blues genre. I sincerely thank Tom Kiefer for that.

Andrew Johnston: A belter of an album that has truly stood the test of time. They were never more consistent than here - yes a lot of critics prefer Heartbreak Station but for me, after four songs that particular train runs out of track.

Here, free of the clodhopping ‘glam’ image that graced their debut - less convincing than prime time Sweet - they sound like they’re writing from the heart. Even if that heart belongs to a 1940’s bluesman.

Live they never disappointed, despite Tom Keifer’s obvious problems with his vocal cords.

It’s just a shame the rock press’ sudden infatuation with grunge ensured the baby got thrown out with the bath water - particularly given the quality of Keifer’s subsequent solo albums.

Marc Towersap: I remember when Cinderella came out, I thought, what a dumb name, but dang, them songs were catchy. By the time Long Cold Winter came out, I was only aware of the MTV videos. Great songs at the time, but was moving out of hard rock/metal to punk/alternative/postpunk/goth, so I didn't know any songs other than the MTV videos. 

I somehow heard Bad Seamstress Blues/Falling Apart At The Seams around the time of Nirvana's Nevermind coming out, thought, that's a great song. I think today it sounds a little dated but still, a good song. But jeez, I finally heard the title track, whoa! I've been missing out all this time!!! The other songs on this disk are good, but again, somewhat dated to me. I will pick up this disk, I have a greatest hits disk, but it's missing that awesome Long Cold Winter.

Marco LG: For a little while during my early teenage years I thought blues meant the kind of music Cinderella played. Reviews were all referencing it, interviews were all discussing it, and my only other reference point, the debut album by the Jeff Healey Band which was marketed as the “blues album of the year”, seemed to confirm it. Of course it didn’t take long for me to realise that in blues circles those were considered anything but blues albums and as a consequence I learned how to stick to what I liked best: heavy metal.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: I discovered this album, and Cinderella in fact, on MTV. If you were there, you know the song and probably are very familiar with the video: Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone). What probably is their most played single ever (it is on Spotify anyway) will, depending on your inclination, conjure images of an innocent youth or instigate violent reactions due to overexposure. I am firmly in the first camp, I still love that song and when it comes up on the radio I still happily (?!) sing along. This means that, like Pride a few weeks ago, I might be looking at this album under the influence of a big dollop of nostalgia. But while I was definitely aware of it while listening to White Lion, Long Cold Winter doesn’t sound dated to me, not even in the slightest.

The songwriting is mesmerisingly good. With the only possible exception of “If you don’t like it”, not by coincidence the most openly hair metal song of the lot, there are no weak tracks on the album in my opinion. It’s a good mix between slower numbers and fast paced ones, as aptly exemplified by the two main singles: Gypsy Road and the afore mentioned Don’t Know What You Got. But the absolute crown jewel is the title track. Five intense minutes of electric magnificence, with the guitar work counterpointing the vocal lines so perfectly it gives goosebumps.

In conclusion: Long Cold Winter is a great album that deserves the label of classic rock. It contains some of the strongest music Cinderella ever committed to tape and will receive a very high score from me.

Final Score: 8.07⁄10 (162 votes cast, with a total score of 1308)

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