We have Gene Simmons of Kiss and Jon Bon Jovi to thank for Tom Keifer and Cinderella. Gene tried to get them signed first, wasn’t successful though. Then Jon came in the picture and boom, a contract. Cinderella’s debut album came out in 1986 and wow was it over the top with the packaging of the band’s look and their sound. They fit right in to the Hair Metal style. Their next album in 1988 came out, ‘Long Cold Winter’, and they got as far away from that sound and look as they could. With their third album, that took it the extreme the other way. That lineup of Tom Keifer, Eric Brittingham, Jeff LaBar and Fred Coury were a house hold names for me.
After their third album, Tom suffered major throat problems with paralysis of his left vocal cord. This delayed their fourth and final album, ‘Still Climbing’ in 1994, With little to no fanfare, the band basically called it quits…well with at least album as we never received another one. It was until 2013 did we even get Tom Keifer’s first solo album. What a comeback it was. But then nothing for six years until the most current release in 2019 with ‘Rise’. It has been a long ride, and sadly only 6 albums so far. I hope we get more, if not from Cinderella, at least from the voice of the band, Tom Keifer.
Let us go ahead and rank the 6 albums we do have and I can’t wait to see what order you would place them. I hope you enjoy.
THE WORST: Tom Keifer: ‘The Way Life Goes’ (2013):
Ok, let’s get this out there in the open right away. There is no “Worst” Tom Keifer album. There is only Favorite to Least Favorite as he hasn’t really made a bad album. Out of all the albums he’s done, this is only the one I don’t play as often as the others, so it is my least favorite of the bunch. They are all favorites. What a welcome sight it was to finally get some new material for Tom after 20 years of nothing. It felt like a personal album and his writing and playing have matured and improved and aged perfectly like cheese, but no cheese here. All well crafted songs. They didn’t capture me as tightly as the other album which is the only reason this one is a the bottom, but it is far from being a bad album.
Swedish hard rock band H.E.A.T. are now on their sixth studio album simply titled ‘II’. The band unapologetically deliver a melodic rock album that is a throwback to the 80’s hard rock scene while moving straight into the new decade of 2020.
They check off every box in a hard rock style I grew up with and loved…
Tom Keifer brings us his second solo album and pretty much let’s you know that he means business. Now known as the Keifer Band, the album has that band feel. They are tight and solid and they blow your freaking ears off. This album is loud, it is raucous, it is dirty, it is gritty, it is out and out nasty at times and all in a good way. The band is Tony Higbee (lead guitar), Billy Mercer (bass), Jarred Pope (drums), Kory Myers (keyboards) and Kendra Chantelle and his wife Savannah Keifer (backing vocals).
The thing I noticed most about this release is the guitar sound. Tony Higbee is a beast and tears it up song after song. His guitar has that dirty blues rock guitar sound that hits you in the gut in a way that knocks your breathe away and is satisfying all at the same time. That gut wrenching, distorted sound is the masterpiece of this release next to Keifer’s songwriting and vocals which is why we are in the first place.
Tom Keifer puts to rest any thoughts of a Cinderella reunion because after you hear this you realize you could care less to go back and revisit after such an outstanding release. You get two opening tracks that are heavy and badass with “Touching the Devine” and “The Death In Me” and then he slows it down with the well-written “Waiting on the Demons” before getting slapped in the face again with “Hype” and Higbee’s killer guitar sound.
The coolest and best song for me on this album is “Untitled” as it has this eerie guitar opening riff that turns in to a nasty blues riff and Keifer comes in with a deeper vocal before hitting that signature high pitch vocal we all know and love. Tom slows it down again with the epic sounding “Rise” which is exactly what he has done. He has had vocal issues, legal issues and health issues and like the phoenix, Tom has risen to give us one of the best albums he has ever done.
“All Amped Up” is exactly as it sounds. A return to the heavy and the good times. And then we get to the only two songs I wasn’t overly thrilled with “Breaking Down” and “Taste for the Pain” as they both were a little dull and felt like filler. But don’t be disheartened as “Life Was Here” brings the energy back and Tom delivers another great track. The album closes with the acoustic track “You Believe in Me” which is only a guitar and Tom’s vocals. It is quite beautiful and a nice way to go out.
I have loved this album and has been on almost non-stop since its release. Tom Keifer brings his roots and influences full force with one of the best Hard Rock Blues album I have heard in a long time. Like a fine wine, Tom keeps getting better with age and shows no signs of slowing down. The production and songwriting were top-notch and that guitar sound was the most killer part of the whole package. For all of those things, I give it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Starswith a Track Score of 82% (9 out of 11) since there were only 2 out of 11 songs I didn’t care for. An incredible release that will certainly make my Top Rock Albums of 2019 list at the end of the year.
Back in 2013, Richie Sambora met Orianthi and sparks flew, apparently. The two are an item and now they are putting out music for the masses and it is about time. I love Richie’s vocals and his bluesy, rock style plus he can play the guitar (have you heard of Bon Jovi?). Orianthi is also one helluva a guitar player herself and she can sing with the best of them. She has played for Michael Jackson and for Alice Cooper as well as her own solo work. The two together, I was expecting a bluesy rock album with some amazing guitar work. Did I get that…well…we will see.
After releasing two E.P.’s in 2017 and a couple singles including one double single, we finally get a full album called ‘Radio Free America’ from RSO (it’s there initials, get it!). Now here is the problem with that…the full album is all 13 songs previously released with those E.P.’s and singles and only 2 new songs. That is right, only 2 and one is a cover. So, if you bought the E.P.’s, you aren’t getting much more. And to make it worse, it is an album of 15 songs in length (over an hour and 7 minutes). That is pretty long for an album and you know there will be filler…and trust me there is filler. I heard they recorded 25 songs, I would like to know where those other 10 songs are.
I have reviewed all the E.P.’s and 2 of the singles previously, but we will compile them here again and make it a full length review adding in the singles I haven’t discussed prior. We might as well jump in and away we go…
With the opening and title track “Making History” Richie & Orianthi are doing what we wanted them to do. They are rocking out. The guitars on this one are exceptional with an almost Def Leppardesque sound from around the “Euphoria” era at times (maybe). The guitar solo is freaking sensational and it is all I ask from these two. Of course I have one minor negative on the song. The vocals are missing something whether it is the chemistry or the mix. Bob Rock is the producer and he does great work, but I am not a fan of them singing simultaneously. I prefer them to trade back and forth.
I was going through my iTunes music library and damn there are a lot of repeat song titles. Always looking for new post ideas, it hit me. What are the most over used song titles? Now I have a post idea and so I am going to bring you the Top 10 Overused Song Titles in music…or at least my musical library.
Now there were several that barely missed the cut. They were the following titles: “Free”, “Forever”, “Without You”, each with 12 titles in my library. And several with 11 songs including “Stand Up”, “Someday”, “Scream” and “Save Me”…a lot starting with “S” apparently.
10. “You”: I have 12 different songs in my library with this title. The artists are rather varied with The Afters, Black Stone Cherry, Bonnie Raitt, Buckcherry, Candlebox, Collective Soul, Elliott Yamin, Gotthard, Marvin Gaye, Richie Kotzen, Safetysuit and Keith Urban.
Richie Sambora and Orianthi are back with their second E.P. this year. From what I understand, they have written 70 songs together and recorded 25. They plan on releasing them as E.P.’s so that means with 2 down (5 songs each), we have 3 more to look forward to in 2018? I hope that is the case as I am up for that. Before we get to those, we have to review the 2nd E.P., ‘Making History’.
The first E.P. ‘Rise’ was not what I expected from these two at all. With both being exceptional guitar players, I was looking for a guitar based album and they did not come close to that on the first one. Thank God they redeemed themselves with this album. They brought the guitars on ‘Making History’.
With the opening track and title track “Making History” you know that they are doing what we wanted them to do. They are rocking out. The guitars on this one are exceptional with an almost Def Leppardesque sound from around the “Euphoria” era at times. The guitar solo is the best thing they have done so far and it is all what I asked for so why should I complain. Of course I have one negative on the song. The vocals aren’t the best. I feel the production is lacking (Bob Rock is the producer which is surprising). Richie and Orianthi don’t sound like they are singing together and I don’t know if it is the effects they put in her vocals, but something is missing with the chemistry and the mix with the two of them singing together.
Back in 2013, Richie Sambora met Orianthi and sparks flew, apparently. The two are an item and now they are putting out music for the masses and it is about time. I had heard back last year, I believe, that they were working together and going to put out an album. Well, we finally got one; however, it is only an E.P. with only 5 songs. Now, I am not greedy, but I would have preferred a whole album.
Now when I heard we were getting music from the two, I was excited. I love Richie’s vocals and his bluesy, rock style plus he can play the guitar (have you heard of Bon Jovi). Orianthi is also one helluva a guitar player herself and she can sing with the best of them. She has played for Michael Jackson and for Alice Cooper as well as her own solo work. The two together, I was expecting a bluesy rock album with some amazing guitar work.
What I was expecting and what we actually have are not quite the same thing. Apparently, the two of them wanted to deliver an album that was not what people expected. They wanted to give something that shows that they can do something more than play guitar. Message received loud and clear.
You probably know Danny Gokey from his time on American Idol. He place third on Season 8 behind the winner, Kris Allen, and the runner-up, Adam Lambert. To me Adam should have won, but that is the topic for another discussion. I am going to talk about Danny Gokey and his new album, ‘Rise’.
Danny is on his 5th album (if you count the Christmas album and his Spanish version of his 2nd album). He has seem to have found his niche in the Christian Pop genre and is getting better with each release. You can see the maturity and the improvement in the songs on this release. Ever since he started adding to the songwriting on his second album, the releases have been getting better and better.
He has definitely gained more confidence and ease with his singing as his voice hasn’t sounded better. The smooth, soulful vocals along with the Pop vibe makes for an exceptional album that could easily be on the mainstream Pop radios.
For this release, he has taken songs with a positive, Christian message and turned them into sleek, danceable pop songs that at the same time have deep meaning and heart. The first single, “Rise”, is a dance, pop song, but is absolutely beautiful and is such an uplifting song and instantly became a favorite of mine. The video even shines a light on domestic violence and an organization that will help women going through such a tragic event.