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Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes [Review]

Tom Keifer - The Way Life Goes

Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
2013, Merovee Records

1. “Solid Ground”
2. “A Different Light”
3. “It’s Not Enough”
4. “Cold Day In Hell”
5. “Thick And Thin”
6. “Ask Me Yesterday”
7. “Fools Paradise”
8. “The Flower Song”
9. “Mood Elevator”
10. “Welcome To My Mind”
11. “You Showed Me”
12. “Ain’t That A Bitch”
13. “The Way Life Goes”
14. “Babylon”

Musicians:
Tom Keifer – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Slide Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Rhodes – Bass
Greg Morrow – Drums, Percussion
Tony Harrell – Piano, B3, Wurlitzer, Clavinet

Producer: Tom Keifer, Savannah Keifer and Chuck Turner

The Way Life Goes is the first effort from Cinderella front-man Tom Keifer that has been in progress for the past 10 years or more (slowed down by Tom voice problems and occasional touring with Cinderella). Truthfully, you can’t really tell that this album is a collection of songs written & recorded over the last 10 years because Tom doesn’t play to trends with any of these songs. The album is a mix of what you’d expect from Tom Keifer: ballads, blues, country and rock. Even if there’s not as many uptempo or hard rockers as you would get with Cinderella, this album is not too far off from that band. If you told me this was the follow-up to 1994’s Still Climbing, I’d believe you and I’d be completely okay with that.

Tom’s voice is so recognizable, it’s really to imagine that these aren’t Cinderella songs. “The Flower Song” is my favorite ballad from the album and it sounds like something off of Heartbreak Station.”Solid Ground” is the hardest rocking song here (and great opener) where we get to hear Tom wail again and this could’ve easily found a place on Long Cold Winter. “It’s Not Enough” and “Cold Day in Hell” are also fantastic rockers. “Mood Elevator” is yet another rocker and there’s an appearance by another Cinderella member — guitarist Jeff LaBar lends a hand.

Meanwhile, “Ain’t That a Bitch” has a Tom Petty vibe and “The Way Life Goes” seems to have some ’80s Aerosmith moments with the sax and “Welcome to My Mind” is the darkest and most modern sounding song on the album. There’s also a few other songs on here that could probably make it to country radio with the right marketing. “Ask Me Yesterday” is the strongest example of this.

There is only one miscalculation on the record and that’s “A Different Light”. Looking at other reviews, I seem to be the only person that isn’t totally sold on this one. I just don’t care for the falsetto style that Tom is using here throughout the song or the poppy production of the song itself. That said, much like the rest of the album, this song has become stuck in my head at various points after listening to this album. It’s not a terrible song but it’s the weakest of the bunch and was kind of a head-scratcher for me when I first heard it.

Ultimately, I highly recommend this album to fans of Cinderella but keep in mind that The Way Life Goes is not a hard rock album through-and-through or a hair-metal throwback. The bluesy/country elements of Cinderella are here, but this is simply a rock album with a lot of soul.

Highlights: “Solid Ground”, “It’s Not Enough”, “Cold Day In Hell”, “Ask Me Yesterday”, “Fools Paradise”, “The Flower Song”, “Ain’t That a Bitch”, “Babylon”

www.tomkeifer.com
www.facebook.com/tomkeiferofficial

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Concerts! Part II

This past April, I mentioned a number of concerts I would be attending this summer. A few more have been announced/come to my attention so I thought I’d provide an update as to who I’m going to see this summer. Here’s my complete dance card!

July 1st
Scorpions w/ Cinderella
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Less than a month away! This was the second concert I had lined up this year and Scorpios are one of my all-time faves so I’m pretty excited about it. Cinderella’s great too, I just wish they had some NEW material to play.

July 16th
Alice Cooper w/ Tesla
Common Ground Music Festival
Lansing, MI

Finally bought my tickets for this last night. It’s all general admission so there was no rush to get’em, even though they’ve been on sale for close to month now. In addition to Sammy Hagar playing on another night, Buckcherry and Bret Michaels were recently added as headliners for the nights they play and Cinderella is now playing a date too (not as headliners though). I would love to see all three of them but I’ve seen Buckcherry three times already, saw Poison last summer and I’ll be seeing Cinderella with Scorpions, so I gotta go with Alice! I’ve wanted to see him forever, he’s one of my favorite acts and the fact that I’ll see Tesla too is a really cool bonus.

July 17th
Iron Maiden w/ Dream Theater
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

First concert tickets I bought for 2010. I just saw the set list for the tour and I’m kinda disappointed because it mostly focuses on their music from ’90s through today. It’s understandable since their last tour was built around their ’80s catalog but for this being my first time seeing Maiden, I wanted all the signature songs!

July 22nd
Huey Lewis & The News
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

I actually like this band a lot, at least when it comes to their “hits”. I have one of their albums and two greatest hits. Lawn tickets were only $7 so I figured why not? Should be fun.

Aug 31st
Aerosmith w/ Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI

Haven’t bought the tickets yet (they go on sale next Wednesday but I won’t be able to buy them until the Wednesday AFTER next Wednesday) but I’m really excited for this show. Tickets are pricey but it’s AEROSMITH! With Sammy Hagar! I don’t want to pass up seeing Aerosmith at least once in my life.

Sept 5th
Ted Nugent
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Another $7 lawn seat ticket. Ted’s a really cool guy but he’s another act I’m not all too familiar outside of his signature songs. Still, I think it should be a fun show. Haven’t bought these tickets yet but I will the same time I buy the Aerosmith tickets.

Sept 11th – Saturday
KISS w/ The Academy Is
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Definitely HAD to buy these tickets, got’em yesterday. Since the great ‘Rock The Nation’ show cancellation back in 2004 (Paul got heat exhaustion and the Pensacola, FL show I had tickets to got canceled and was never made up), I made a promise to myself that I would always go see KISS should they ever be in my neighborhood. How could you expect any less of me when they’re my favorite band? Well, I saw ’em last September as they were one of the last acts to ever play the historic Cobo in Detroit and I’ll see them this September too! DTE’s site lists The Academy Is as the support (they kinda suck and are way too indie rock/pop to be supporting KISS, IMO) but KISS is also holding a contest for a different unsigned band to get the opening slot in each city. Could be interesting…

So that’s my summer concert series! Should anything else pop up, I’ll be sure to report on it here and I’ll definitely be doing my concert reviews for each and every one of these shows.

CINDERELLA – Night Songs

Cinderella – Night Songs (1986, Mercury Records)

1. “Night Songs” … 4:03
2. “Shake Me” … 3:44
3. “Nobody’s Fool” … 4:49
4. “Nothin’ for Nothin'” … 3:33
5. “Once Around the Ride” … 3:22
6. “Hell on Wheels” … 2:49
7. “Somebody Save Me” … 3:16
8. “In From The Outside” … 4:07
9. “Push Push” … 2:52
10. “Back Home Again” … 3:30

Band:
Tom Keifer – Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Jeff LaBar – Guitar
Eric Brittingham – Bass
Fred Coury – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Jon Bon Jovi – Backing Vocals (“Nothing for Nothin'” and “In From the Outside”)
Barry Bennedetta – Guitar
Jeff Paris – Keyboards
Jody Cortez – Drums
Jim Drnec – Drums

Produced by: Andy Johns

Wow, check out that cover. These guys were trying REALLY hard to fit in with the rest of the 80s glam bands. As for sound, they were doing that too. It’s still sounds like the Cinderalla I’m familiar with (Keifer’s voice is unmistakable) but with less hard rockin’ blues and more hair metal.

This is a solid debut from one of the 80s most underrated hard rock bands. It’s not the generic hair metal release that I’ve seen others try to peg it as. A few songs (“Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me”, “In From the Outside”) show what the band would later become on Long Cold Winter and Heartbreak Station.”Nobody’s Fool” was the band’s biggest hit, and it’s good, but it’s been used soooooo many times on 80s rock compilations, I think I could go the rest of my life without hearing it and be okay.

Mercury labelmate Jon Bon Jovi sings backing vocals for two songs. In addition to that, he helped the band get noticed by Mercury and Bon Jovi took the band out on their Slippery When Wet tour. This no doubt helped propel Night Songs to the triple platinum status that it has attained.

Highlights: “Night Songs”, “Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Nothin’ for Nothin'”, “Somebody Save Me”, “In From the Outside”

www.cinderella.net
www.myspace.com/stillclimbing

FREAKSHOW – Freakshow

Freakshow – Freakshow (2009, Retrospect Records)

1. “Welcome to the Freakshow” … 3:27
2. “Everyone” … 2:53
3. “You Who Wins” … 2:35
4. “It’s Really Over” … 3:21
5. “Burning Me” … 2:58
6. “Four Leaf Clover” … 2:53
7. “Looking Back At Me” … 4:13
8. “Mindgame” … 2:51
9. “Mistreat Me” … 2:41
10. “Ripper” … 2:44
11. “Mistaken” … 2:48

Band:
Marcus Allen Christopher – Vocals, Guitar
Jeff LaBar – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tony Franklin – Bass
Frankie Banali – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Ronnie Borchert

Another outstanding release from Retrospect Records, which despite primarily being an 80s rock/metal reissue label, are proving themselves when it comes to new material as well (see Wildstreet).

Freakshow is a supergroup of sorts featuring M!SS CRAZY’s Marcus Allen Christopher, Cinderella’s Jeff LaBar, Quiet Riot’s Frankie Banali. Rounding out the group is Tony Franklin, who is no stranger to supergroups, having played in The Firm, a collaboration between Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page. He also has been in Blue Murder, Whitesnake and played on Rehab, the final Quiet Riot album.

Given the band members, the sound of Freakshow is not what I expected. I was expecting a more classic rock/80s rock vibe and that sound is not entirely present here. In fact, the album very much has a fresh hard rock sound, just check out the incredibly infectious, mean and Zeppelinesque “It’s Really Over”. In a world that was fair and just, that song would be all over radio right now.

On the surface, the band looks like a bit of a mismatch. Marcus Allen Christopher sticks out like a sore thumb with his face paint that makes him look like he belongs in a Norwegian black metal band, but all that really counts is the music and the music is great. I also love his voice, which can really wail and sometimes reminds me of Robert Plant.

Hopefully, this isn’t just a one-off project of Christopher’s (he wrote all the songs), because this is one of the year’s best releases and I look forward to more Freakshow albums in the future.

Highlights: “Everyone”, “You Who Wins”, “It’s Really Over”, “Burning Me”, “Looking Back At Me”, “Mindgame”, “Mistreat Me”, “Ripper”

www.freakshowrox.com
www.myspace.com/freakshowrox
www.retrospectrecords.com

WAYNE’S WORLD – Music From The Motion Picture

Wayne’s World – Music From The Motion Picture (1992, Reprise Records)

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen … 5:58
2. “Hot And Bothered” – Cinderella … 4:17
3. “Rock Candy” – Bulletboys … 5:04
4. “Dream Weaver” – Gary Wright … 4:26
5. “Sikamikanico” – Red Hot Chili Peppers … 3:26
6. “Time Machine” – Black Sabbath … 4:19
7. “Wayne’s World Theme” – Mike Myers/Dana Carvey (Extended Version) … 5:14
8. “Ballroom Blitz” – Tia Carrerre … 3:30
9. “Foxy Lady” – Jimi Hendrix … 3:19
10. “Feed My Frankenstein” – Alice Cooper … 4:46
11. “Ride With Yourself” – Rhino Bucket … 3:15
12. “Loving Your Lovin'” – Eric Clapton … 3:55
13. “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” – Tia Carrere … 3:33

A friend passed this one over to me years ago and it’s a good collection of 70s/80s/90s acts. Queen, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cinderella… Sounds good to me! The album was a big hit, making it to #1 on the Billboard 200, knocking off Nirvana’s Nevermind!

In 1992, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (originally released in 1976 and charting at #9) became a gigantic hit, working it’s way up the Billboard charts to #2 after being re-released as a single, all thanks to the song’s inclusion in the movie. The hilarious scene is one of the best uses ever for a song in a movie

“Feed My Frankenstein” is one of my favorite Alice songs and for years, until seriously getting into Alice, I thought it was an older tune. I didn’t realize the song’s inclusion in the movie and on the soundtrack was a clever marketing ploy to promote his recently released Hey Stoopid album.

Highlights: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Hot And Bothered”, “Rock Candy”, “Feed My Frankenstein”, “Ballroom Blitz”

MONSTERS OF ROCK

Various Artists – Monsters of Rock (1998, Razor & Tie)

Track Listing:
1. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot … 4:51
2. “Once Bitten Twice Shy” – Great White … 5:22
3. “Poison” – Alice Cooper … 4:30
4. “The Final Countdown” – Europe … 5:11
5. “Round and Round” – Ratt … 4:24
6. “Cherry Pie” – Warrant … 3:20
7. “Here I Go Again” – Whitesnake … 4:35
8. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – Poison … 4:20
9. “Seventeen” – Winger … 4:05
10. “Cult of Personality” – Living Colour … 4:54
11. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister … 3:39
12. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” – Judas Priest … 5:08
13. “Nobody’s Fool” – Cinderella … 4:48
14. “Hold on Loosely” – .38 Special … 4:37
15. “Turn up the Radio” – Autograph … 4:34
16. “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger … 4:56

Ahh… The hair metal compilation that gave rise to all the rest of the imitators and countless sequels from Razor & Tie.

Razor & Tie initially pushed many of their compilations (love songs, country, 80s, etc.) through their 800 number. I remember many of these ads over on cable stations like TBS and WGN. I *think* there was even a 2-disc version of Monsters of Rock that was only available by ordering over the phone.

Anyway, tons of classics here, though I would argue the inclusion of .38 Special, Autograph, Night Ranger and Living Colour (I really hate “Cult of Personality” anyway). You can’t go wrong with these songs. Though I would eventually own all the albums that these songs were taken from, this was a great introduction for me to the genre when, up to that point, I had really only gotten heavy in GNR, Poison and Bon Jovi.

My fondest memory is playing this one constantly when my family moved from Virginia to Florida in June 1998. I had no friends and nowhere to go and this album received CONSTANT play in my room that summer. Also, Monsters of Rock gave me a great “I REMEMBER THAT SONG!” moment with Alice Cooper’s “Poison”. I had totally forgotten about that massive comeback hit for The Coop.

This album pretty much set the standard for pop metal comps and usually knockoff CDs basically just took this tracklisting and hit ‘shuffle’.

ARCADE – Arcade

Arcade – Arcade (1993, Epic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Dancin’ With The Angels” … 4:09
2. “Nothin’ To Lose” … 4:38
3. “Calm Before The Storm” … 4:08
4. “Cry No More” … 5:34
5. “Screamin’ S.O.S.” … 3:37
6. “Never Goin’ Home” … 3:41
7. “Messed Up World” … 3:57
8. “All Shook Up” … 3:38
9. “So Good… So Bad…” … 4:39
10. “Livin’ Dangerously” … 3:13
11. “Sons And Daughters” … 1:53
12. “Mother Blues” … 3:11

Band:
Stephen Pearcy – Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Frankie Wilsex – Guitar
Donny Syracuse – Guitar
Michael Andrews – Bass
Fred Coury – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: David Prater

Arcade was one of the last great pop metal acts. Unfortunately, they arrived just a few years too late to really make an impact because grunge & alternative rock already had crashed the charts by the time this album was released in the Spring of ’93.

It really is a great record and one of the best examples of the genre, I think. Stephen Pearcy (Ratt) recruited Cinderella’s Fred Coury alongside a few other players to put out an album that sounds like a more melodic version of Ratt. If this had been released in ’89 or ’90, quite a number of these songs could’ve been huge hits.

A follow-up was released in ’94, that time it was a little more in-step with the current musical climate. In 2006, Pearcy announced his intentions to revive the band, but ended up rejoining Ratt instead.

Highlights: “Dancin’ With The Angels”, “Nothin’ To Lose”, “Calm Before The Storm”, “Cry No More”, “Screamin’ S.O.S.”, “Never Goin’ Home”, “So Good… So Bad…”

CINDERELLA – Heartbreak Station

Cinderella – Heartbreak Station (1990, Mercury Records)

Track Listing:
1. “The More Things Change” … 4:22
2. “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time” … 5:19
3. “Shelter Me” … 4:47
4. “Heartbreak Station” … 4:28
5. “Sick for the Cure” … 3:59
6. “One for Rock and Roll” … 4:29
7. “Dead Man’s Road” … 6:38
8. “Make Your Own Way” … 4:15
9. “Electric Love” … 5:23
10. “Love Gone Bad” … 4:20
11. “Winds of Change” … 5:24

Band:
Tom Keifer – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Dobro, Mandolin, Piano
Jeff LaBar – Guitar
Eric Brittingham – Bass
Fred Coury – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Bobby Schumann – Guitar
J. Harman – Drums
Rod Roddy, Brian O’Neal, Rick Criniti – Keyboard
Jay Levin – Steel Guitar
The Memphis Horns: Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet
Jay Davidson – Saxophone, Piano
Ken Hensley – Organ
Bashiri Johnson – Percussion
Elaine Foster, Sharon Foster, Tara Pellerin, Carla Benson, Evette Benton, Curtis King, Brenda King, Tawatha Agee, Eric Troyer – Backing vocals

Produced by: John Jansen & Tom Keifer

A great continuation of the sleazy cowboy blues rock vibe (with some funk thrown in) that the band started on Long Cold Winter. “Heartbreak Station” is definitely one of my favorite Cinderella songs and the funk rocker “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time” is a real foot stomper.

It’s a shame Cinderella’s popularity didn’t continue with this album as their sound expanded, Heartbreak Station is great stuff from an era when many hair bands (and their labels) were *really* playing it safe and by the numbers. Thus, we got grunge. >=/

Highlights: “The More Things Change”, “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time”, “Shelter Me”, “Heartbreak Station”, “Dead Man’s Road”, “Electric Love”, “Love Gone Bad”

www.cinderella.net
www.myspace.com/stillclimbing

MONSTER BALLADS XMAS

Various Artists – Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Direct)

Track Listing:
1. “Jingle Bells” – Skid Row … 3:02
2. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” – Winger … 4:06
3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Jani Lane … 3:35
4. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Twisted Sister (w/ Lita Ford) … 4:09
5. “White Christmas” – Queensryche … 2:28
6. “Run Rudolph Run” – L.A. Guns … 3:10
7. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – FireHouse … 3:07
8. “Naughty Naughty Christmas” – Danger Danger … 4:56
9. “Blue Christmas” – Tom Keifer … 4:15
10. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Nelson … 2:52
11. “Silent Night” – Faster Pussycat … 4:13
12. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” – Dokken … 4:01
13. “Happy Holidays” – Enuff Z’Nuff … 4:23
14. “Winter Wonderland” – Stryper … 3:34
15. “Christmas Love” – Billy Idol … 3:57

Produced by: Michael Anderson & Beka Callaway

Another album in the long-running Monster series from Razor & Tie, this time with a Christmas theme, although calling it “Monster Ballads Xmas” doesn’t make much since because most of these songs are not ballads. Why not just “Monster Xmas“? Or get really old school with “Monsters of Rock Xmas“?

Anyway, I picked the year of it’s release at Target, of all places. It’s a decent release, though it pales in comparison to 2008’s excellent We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year from Armoury Records.

I don’t have to tell you that Faster Pussycat, as always with compilations and cover albums, sticks out like a sore thumb here with their more recent and improved industrial sound. Just an awful rendition of “Silent Night”. What is it with “Silent Night” getting so screwed up on these metal Xmas compilations? Queensryche does a pretty bad version of “White Christmas” as well. Geoff Tate’s voice sounds horrible here. Like someone trying to sound like Edguy’s Tobias Sammett but totally failing.

Dokken’s version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” is actually pretty funny to me because of the fact that it sounds EXACTLY like a Dokken song. They totally made it their own and you’d swear Don wrote the song himself.

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, certainly inspired by the Christmas spirit after the success of A Twisted Christmas, executive produced.

Highlights: “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Naught Naughty Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, “Happy Holiday”

CINDERELLA – Long Cold Winter

Cinderella – Long Cold Winter (1988, Mercury Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At The Seams” … (5:23)
2. “Gypsy Road” … (4:05)
3. “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” … (5:56)
4. “The Last Mile” …  (3:25)
5. “Second Wind” … (3:57)
6. “Long Cold Winter” … (5:22)
7. “If You Don’t Like It” … (4:13)
8. “Coming Home” … (4:55)
9. “Fire And Ice” … (3:19)
10. “Take Me Back” … (3:16)

Band:
Tom Keifer – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Jeff LaBar – Guitar
Eric Brittingham – Bass, Backing Vocals
Fred Coury – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Jay Levin – Steel Guitar
Rick Criniti – Piano, Organ, Synthesizer
Kurt Shore – Keyboard
John Webster – Keyboard
Cozy Powell – Drums
Denny Carmassi – Drums
Paulinho Da Costa – Percussion

Produced by: Andy Johns

Cinderella, just like Ratt, are an incredibly underrated band. They’re one of my favorites from the 80s scene and they weren’t just a good glam/hair band, they were a good rock band… Period. Long Cold Winter is one of the finest releases from the whole glam/hair era. This is one of my favorite albums out of my whole collection.

Though I certainly already knew their biggest hit (and an essential power ballad), “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”, my first exposure to Cinderella as a whole was by picking up their 1997 greatest hits compilation, Once Upon A…, at Wal-Mart on cassette (!!!) in 1998 as I was scooping up any and all hair band album I could get my hands on during that time… even if that meant compilations.

Eventually, that “best of” introduction led me to picking up this album.

Highlights: “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”, “Coming Home”

www.cinderella.net
www.myspace.com/stillclimbing

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