I’ve written about this album and certain songs previously on this blog.
This post was scheduled for today as part of my 1986 “Year In Review” series. And yesterday my Twitter feed was all about the passing of Jeff LaBar at 58. May he rest in peace and thank you for the music and all those licks and leads.
Signed to Polygram, the debut album, “Night Songs”, produced by Andy Johns, had everything from AC/DC style riffing and grooves, to Aerosmith style highs and Keifer’s unique raspy snarl.
But Keifer and co didn’t just sound like all of the other bands out there, because their influences weren’t just your standard Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC acts. They also went back and found out who influenced their influences, and allowed those artists to also influence them, hence the reason why Cinderella was more bluesier than the rest.
The debut album came out on released August 2, 1986.
It’s stood the test of time and when it came out, it competed with some massive albums from Bon Jovi, Europe, Ratt and Poison. And let’s not forget that within a year, they were also competing with Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Guns N Roses for market share and sales.
The clip for “Nobody’s Fool” was first.
It hooked me in because those clean tone Am arpeggios reminded me of “Bringing On The Heartbreak” from Def Leppard. At 30 million streams on Spotify, it’s one of their biggest songs, with “Don’t Know What You Got (Until Its Gone)” at 42.19 million streams above it.
The lead break starts off so bluesy to begin with. Then it goes into some fast melodic picking.
As “Nobody’s Fool” is repeated over and over again in the outro, there is another great lead shredding away.
Then I heard “Shake Me” and the party was getting started.
Tom Keifer’s raspy voice is the difference. He didn’t sound like any other singer out on the market. Maybe a bit like Brian Johnson and a bit like Blackie Lawless. The band Hinder built a career in the music business many years later because their singer had the same raspy voice like Keifer.
So I got the album and I thought I had a feeling how the other songs would sound. I dropped the needle and the opening riff to “Night Songs” started.
I was floored.
It was heavy. It sounded deep, like “When The Levee Breaks” heavy. And the slow groove hooked me like nicotine. (I could probably do better with that line, but hey).
Workin’ this job ain’t payin’ the bills / Sick and tired rat race takin’ my thrills / Kickin’ down the road not a dime in my pocket / Nightime falls and I’m ready to rock it
This message appeared in a lot of songs around this time. “Let It Rock”, “Rock The Night”, “Working For The Weekend” just to name a few. Working to get paid, so we could rock out.
Even if the rocking took place in the comfort of our own home. There was nothing more soothing then dropping the needle and letting the sound surround you and bounce off the walls.
I love the main riff in “Nothin’ For Nothin’” and Keifer delivers a stellar vocal melody in the verses.
“Once Around The Ride” is a classic heavy metal track, with an air guitar pedal tone riff, a wicked lead break from Jeff LeBar and a vocal melody from Keifer which sticks around long after the song has finished.
“Hell On Wheels” is a fast twelve bar blues type of tune, but it’s done that well, it could have come from any NWOBHM act, just with better melodies and vocals from Kiefer. Even ZZ Top on steroids comes to mind.
We’ve had enough of the raw deals / Hit the road and tell ya how it feels
Like hell on wheels
“Somebody Save Me” is my favourite. The “Knock Em Dead Kid” riff merged with “Looks That Kill” works a treat and Keifer delivers vocally.
Well, everybody’s got opinions / But nobody’s got the answers / And the shit you ate for breakfast / Well, it’ll only give you cancer
Remember when white bread was marketed as a health food.
Now processed meats will give you cancer. And too much red meat as well. Plus all those cereals and muesli bars and low fat alternatives are full of sugar.
“In From The Outside” has an excellent outro and it’s the reason why I go through the whole song, just to hear the outro and how they fit in this metal like section to a 12 bar blues.
And “Back Home Again” is a great way to bookend the album. An open string riff kicks it off and the vocal melody from Keifer is brilliant.
I hit the road wide open at seventeen
It doesn’t happen like that anymore or does it. I read an article how most kids are still living with their parents past the age of 30.
And there is a cast on the album.
Jon Bon Jovi does backing vocals on a few tracks, drums are played by someone else and even the guitar leads are played by someone else on a few tracks.
For a debut album, it was an expensive exercise for Polygram. But it paid off in spades. Three times platinum in the U.S.
A school friend back then asked me to describe the album and I called it “AC/DC on steroids”. Hearing it back throughout the decades its more varied than that. There is a lot to unpack. ZZ Top is present, the first three Def Leppard albums, Aerosmith, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin.