Long Cold Winter was Cinderella’s second album. I bought it on a whim in a record shop which is now a Hairdressers in my local town. I had money to burn and at 14 I had to spend it. Besides I knew they had something to do with Bon Jovi.
Getting home and putting side one of the vinyl on my record player the album started with a real country-esque slide guitar piece which got a little quicker as Tom Keifer’s vocal started. Very quickly the full electric rock band kicked into first song proper ‘Fallin’ Apart At The Seams’. Absolutely laden with screeching vocal and a blues-esque guitar riff all put together with the aforementioned Bon Jovi production values, what I was listening to sounded superb. Immediately after was single ‘Gypsy Road’ and in all honesty it was better than Bon Jovi!!
Now don’t laugh; to me Bon Jovi were the route into rock music. ‘Bad Medicine’ was the introduction, which led me to their New Jersey album and then backwards to ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ and ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ on Slippery When Wet and so on. Without Bon Jovi I would probably have been listening to Climie Fisher…
‘Gypsy Road’ was fast, it was ridiculously catchy and rocked, but not in a true rock, heavy band-type way, they had something else. Something more blues, something more soul, something just different to what I’d heard before. But they had long hair, guitars, scarves, spandex and a little more mascara than a man should. I was loving what I was hearing!
‘Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone’ was a piano driven ballad which blew me away. This was before ‘Bed of Roses’ or ‘November Rain’, this was ground-breaking to me. A rock band with the aforementioned long hair and guitars, scarves and spandex playing a piano! What a beautiful soaring song of love, loss and heartache. Of course this was all subjects I knew nothing about at 14, but the song made me feel as if I did.
‘The Last Mile’ and ‘Second Wind’ are up next and both are straight-forward rockers with the same sing-a-long lyrics and the inimitable voice of Tom Keifer. The man has two voices; a normal singing voice and what can only be described as a melodic screech. I didn’t know it yet, but the sound Cinderella had was that early 70s blues-rock sound which started with The Rolling Stones “Virgin” material which was progressed by Aerosmith, Bad Company, and Deep Purple.
Side one over, and in these days that mean turning over the vinyl to discover what the second chapter had in store. Building up the beginning of this side was title track ‘Long Cold Winter’ is slow burning and has a fantastic blues lick guitar punching responses to Tom’s forlorn vocal. It feels like freezing cold winter when you listen to this song.
‘If You Don’t Like It’ is next and is guitar riff normal. Slightly funky and just as ubiquitous as the rest of the album. The more I listen to it today the more I am convinced that it’s actually stolen from Aerosmith’s 1976 Rocks album; not a cover version just a complete facsimile of the sound. But I didn’t know that then, and regardless – this is still a great song. ‘Coming Home’ follows and again is slow, not ballad slow, but a great little pace. It is a get under your skin, sing along country-esque track with Tom’s characteristic vocal switching between styles supported by female backing singers.
The album finishes with ‘Fire and Ice’ and ‘Take Me Back’, both of which are of the same high standard and strong finishes to the album. What I’d discovered was a completely new sub-genre of rock music, one which wasn’t new actually, it just took a new band to show it to me.
Aerosmith released ‘Love In An Elevator’ the following year and through that I got into them. In the UK Aerosmith are mainly known for their 80-90s material, but personally I much prefer their 70s output. The output which made them megastars in the US – you know, ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Dream On’, ‘Sweet Emotion’ and all that. Ironically it was Cinderella which introduced me to that sound, and probably made me love Aerosmith as much as was healthy for a teenage boy.
To this day I think it is fair to say that what ‘Long Cold Winter’ introduced me to is my favourite genre of music. Sure, it spans a number of styles, and I hate pigeon labelling music as a way of limiting taste, however with slide guitars, 70s-feel and 80s solos Cinderella were not a cheesy hair metal cock-rock band. In many ways the band never really made it big, certainly not in the UK, but they were instrumental in introducing me to the music I love.