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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

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

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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