JEFF LaBAR – One For The Road

Jeff LaBar - One More For The RoadEverybody goes: “Jeff who??”. Well, nothing strange about that at all, Jeff LaBar doesn’t really count as common knowledge. Even if you happen to be a metal head, the guy is quite anonymous. For you who don’t know who Jeff LaBar is, he is the rhythm guitar player from 80’s hard rock / classic rock band Cinderella. Cinderella were more or less lead guitarist / singer Tom Keifer’s baby and he was also the one who wrote all the songs for that band. Cinderella made it real big back in the mid eighties with brilliant albums like Night Songs (1986), Long Cold Winter (1988) and Heartbreak Station (1990), but after they completely bombed with 1994’s Still Climbing, due to the fact the their brand of melodic hard rock had gone totally out of style when Nirvana and their likes had taken over, the band split up. After that, Cinderella has made plenty of comebacks – 2000 – 2002, 2005 – 2006 and most recently 2010 – but now it’s seems likely that the band is here to stay. Their comebacks have, however, only been as a touring act, but the touring has consolidated them as one of the tightest efforts around. No new Cinderella music has been released since 1994, but Keifer released his first solo album, last year’s brilliant The Way Life Goes and now – out of the blue – the news that LaBar was about to release one as well hit me. This was interesting news, to say the least, but in all honesty, I really didn’t know what to expect. Since LaBar has not one single song writing credit with Cinderella and the band he formed with band mate, bass player Eric Brittingham, Naked Beggars, has totally passed me by unnoticed. So this album is the first time we get to hear 51 year young LaBar as a singer and a song writer.

Opener “No Strings” is a kick-ass rock’n’roller, quite heavy and very Cinderella-like and Jeff’s raunchy playing fits that style – of course – like a glove and he sings the song with heart and conviction. “Asking For A Beating” has lyrics that leaves me somewhat confused, but as a song, it’s a great rocker with a smashing refrain that I’m sure would go down like a charm live. “Hello Or Goodbye” has everything a brilliant rock ballad should have and had this one been included on an 80’s Cinderella record, I’m sure it would have gone on heavy rotation on MTV. “Nightmare On My Street” breaks the classic rock mold a bit as the song rocks fast and heavy and almost borders to metal – and it fits Jeff really well. The title track that finishes this seven track album is a big, fat blues rocker that has a rhythm not a far cry (pun!) from Whitesnake’s “Crying In The Rain” – a style that suits Jeff really well and it’s easy to hear that this kind of classic rock lies close to Jeff’s heart. Impressing stuff!

Two of the songs – “Muse” and “Ode To Page” (not hard to guess who this one is written for) – are both short instrumentals which leaves only five “real” songs. A little cheap in my book, to be honest. Never the less, this a very good album and as a guitarist, singer and song writer, LaBar turns out to be surprisingly good. His raspy voice is not that far from his band mate Tom Keifer’s voice. The fact that LaBar hasn’t branched out as solo artist years ago is really flabbergasting now that he has proved what he’s capable of. This album makes Jeff seem like an unused source in Cinderella, a band where Tom Keifer handled all the song writing and lead guitar playing. For any fan of Cinderella, Tom Keifer’s solo album and great classic hard rock ‘n’ roll in general, this album is the no-brainer of the year.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. No Strings
02. Asking For A Beating
03. Muse
04. Hello Or Goodbye
05. Ode To Page
06. Nightmare on My Street
07. One For The Road

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