Once again, my musical opinions are thwarted by popular opinion, and as you can tell by the title, I will be reviewing one of the greatest hair metal albums of all time by arguably the greatest hair metal band ever. Aside: After my Limp Bizkit post, you probably thought I was joking about liking them, but you’re wrong. I actually started an official fanpage on Facebook for them which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/limpbizkitfanpage/.
Before I start my review, I would like to summarize what hair metal is for the uninformed. In its most basic form, you could call it heavy metal mixed with pop, but that doesn’t really do it full justice. Bands like Poison, Skid Row, and Warrant proved that you didn’t have to sound like Madonna to create catchy songs. Some defining characteristics of the genre include shredding guitar solos, driving drum rhythms, stacked harmonies, and of course the occasional power ballad. What was just as important, if not more important than the music, was the visual aesthetic of the genre. Huge hair, tight pants, mascara, full makeup, you name it. They had it.
Unfortunately, the genre didn’t last long. As the story goes, “real” music came along and killed the hair bands of the eighties, leaving behind a whole tradition of technique focused metal that was perfectly okay in its cheesiness. In one way, the style of Freddie Mercury was carried on by these bands, with their bombastic styles and melodically charged guitar and vocals. On the other hand, this style was just as reminiscent of early glam rock acts such as Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Mötley Crüe. Hair metal was created in such an interesting window of pop-culture history that it was in itself more unique and easily identifiable than almost any other genre that came before it and ever since. Bands like Steel Panther, The Struts, and The Darkness carry on the tradition today with a modern twist, and I would highly recommend checking out their music, especially The Struts, which I particularly like.
Cinderella’s Long Cold Winter could be described as one of the definitive albums of the hair metal genre, if not only because of the mega-hits on it. Songs like “Gypsy Road”, “Coming Home”, and “Don’t Know What You Got (Till it’s Gone)” put this record as their standout performance during the time it came out, but what I think makes this album special is its ability keep the listener hooked in to what’s happening, whether its the ear-piercing vocal work of lead singer Tom Keifer, searing guitar riffs of then lead guitarist Jeff Labar, or the driving rhythms of drummer Fred Coury. Originally, this sound caught the ear of Gene Simmons, who tried to sign them, but to no avail. After this, Jon Bon Jovi heard them play and eventually got them signed to Mercury/Polygram Records. At this point in their career they had already put out their debut record Night Songs, which had already went triple platinum, and had opened for fellow glam rockers Poison, David Lee Roth, and Bon Jovi. They had a pretty good footing in the music industry at that time and were due for their sophomore album, which is always the one that is most anticipated and likely to flop, because of the pressure to repeat what they did the first time. The album did not flop, however, and was actually even more successful than the first, with a more blues-inspired rock sound that was show ready; 254 shows to be exact.
I think that one of the problems that the hair metal bands had was the fact that no one took them as seriously as they probably should have, just based on their talent and songwriting abilities. I’m not saying that I would’ve been their biggest fans if I lived through the eighties, but I would have at least recognized that their music was respectable enough to at least survive through the nineties. Obviously bands like Steel Panther, The Struts, and The Darkness, which I mentioned earlier, agree with me, and carry out the tradition of glam rock/metal that deserves to see the light of day in the current music landscape. To be honest, so much music today is so fake and talentless that bands like Cinderella almost look like legendary figures in comparison.
After listening to the album multiple times, I felt as if I was transported to the late-eighties in a Bill and Ted inspired time machine, where the Wyld Stallyns are the soundtrack for world peace and harmony, and nothing else matters. I would certify this album to be pretty fresh, only because it isn’t my genre of choice the majority of the time, but it does bring you to a different time and place, which is most excellent. I will probably listen to some more hair metal to further develop my opinion on the genre even further, if only to widen my musical horizons. Thanks for reading, and as always, God Bless America.