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"Still Climbing" is the 4th studio album by American hard rock band, Cinderella. It was released in 1994 on Mercury Records and produced by Tom Keifer & Gary Lyons. The line-up for the album was Tom Keifer (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Kenny Aronoff (guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass) and Jeff LaBar (drums).
Although there has always been far more to Cinderella than the glam image they started with, first impressions stick with people. This album failed to be widely recognized, and didn't get the acclaim it deserved, due to timing. The release date was after the shift from glam metal to grunge. Had it been released a few years earlier, it would have easily been one of the best known albums of the late 80's. As it is, it is relatively unknown. Cinderella has always leaned toward a bluesy slant to their music.
This album contains some blues rock, some hard hitting rockers, 80's party rock, and two deeply emotional ballads. A lot of the lyrics on this album seem to be devoted to getting past hard times. This is probably due to all that was going on at that time. Tom Keifer not only lost his mother, but also had throat cancer. In addition to those, the band's popularity had waned due to the rise of grunge. In most cases, songs about rising above adversity tend to be wimpy, but Cinderella put their own spin on them and avoided that pitfall. Tom Keifer's voice is strong as ever, despite the surgery he underwent for the cancer.
"Bad Attitude Shuffle" starts out with an into reminiscent of a swing jazz style into blues before kicking into a rock, swing and blues mix that work impressively well together. The story of the lyrics is all about living your life for you and not letting anyone in because you are too busy focusing on your own troubles and cares. Overall, it is a bit of a 'tell the world where to go' rocker.
"All Comes Down" is slightly less angry track than the first one, but still has a bit of an angry vibe to the lyrics. With a heavy intro, this one is in true Cinderella signature style of their first couple albums. This one is about getting though the tough times, and although things aren't going the way you planned, you can adjust your course and keep going. The use of Rhythm and Blues horns adds depth to the song.
"Talk is Cheap" has a catchy chorus and great guitar riffs and solos. Although the lyrics are telling you that talk truly is cheap if you don't back up your words with your actions, it doesn't have a hateful feel to it. The song is not overly heavy, but just heavy enough to be enjoyable.
"Hard to Find the Words" is an emotional tribute to Tom Keifer's mother, who passed away. It is an intimate, very soul baring look into his feelings, set to music. It is done in such a way that not only do you feel his emotion as he performs it, but you can apply the tone of it to the feelings you have toward people you have lost. The track is a heavy ballad, and the vocals have the emotional weight of pain.
"Blood From a Stone" is a harder hitting song. It is darker than most Cinderella songs, but with a catchy chorus to balance it out. Played with a lot of heart and feeling, it is telling you that no matter how hard people try to take everything from you, they can't. You just keep on going, and all will be okay. With an edge to the song, you can feel the will to keep fighting.
"Still Climbing" is less angry than "Bad Attitude Shuffle" and "All Comes Down" but conveys the same message. It is a positive attitude in bad times song, but definitely wimpy. The intro is drums with guitar intermingled.
"Freewheelin'" is heavier and faster than what most people have come to expect from Cinderella. The intro lets you know you are in for something special, and the song delivers on that promise. The tempo of the song leads to a frenzied feel of someone freewheeling out of control, which fits perfectly with the lyrics. It is unexpectedly heavy for someone who was labelled as a glam group, but Cinderella have quite often thrown the unexpected into their work over the years. Had this album come out at another time, this song would have been noticed for the amazing thing it is.
"Through the Rain" is a power ballad with a piano intro that lets Tom Keifer's voice shine through. Although it is a power ballad, it is heavy and edgy, keeping it from sounding weak. In the spirit of this album, it is another song about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off.
"Easy Come Easy Go" could easily have been on "Long Cold Winter" because it is true Cinderella from the first note to the last. The first listen made me think it was the late 80s again. It has a brilliant intro and is heavy, but with a chorus you can sing along to.
"The Road's Still Long" has a slow, acoustic intro that builds and becomes heavier, with a bluesy feel. It is an introspective look at the many stages of life, how you felt at that time and what you have learned and how you have grown as a person since. It could be considered another tribute to Tom Keifer's mother, and how she helped shape his life.
"Hot & Bothered" is hard and heavy from the intro through the end. It is the only song on the album that has much of a glam feel to it. Lust has always been a party song topic, and this track fits the category. It is a bit of a rocker, but the overall feel is glam.
In summary, I do feel this album should have had far more publicity than it did. Most people don't even know it exists. Although Cinderella have always added more to their music than most groups of their genre, this album stretches in more directions of growth as a band than ever. Timing truly is everything when it comes to music getting the recognition it deserves. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes rock, blues rock, or is looking for something new to listen to.
1. Bad Attitude Shuffle
2. All Comes Down
3. Talk is Cheap
4. Hard to Find the Words
5. Blood From a Stone
6. Still Climbing
8. Through the Rain
9. Easy Come Easy Go
10. The Road's Still Long
11. Hot & Bothered
My rating: 8/10