KING KOBRA had the world to gain and had it, almost. The band had drumming veteran Carmine Appice for a leader. It had an arsenal buffered by fleeting future stars: guitarist Mick Sweda in BULLETBOYS, bassist Johnny Rod in W.A.S.P. and guitarist David Michael-Phillips (aka David Henzerling) who later found himself running a full circuit of like-minded power rock acts such as KEEL, ICON, SCHOOLBOYS, BANGO TANGO, TUNNEL and shock rocker, LIZZY BORDEN. Though it occurred after-the-fact, the group’s voice on mike emancipated herself from Mark to Marcie Free. At the end of the group’s sadly short first run, implosion and a failed attempt to court the mainstream saw the group dissolve by the time its 1988 third album was released. Then, in 2011, four-fifths of the lineup reunited for the oddly plotted “King Kobra” album: further underscoring KING KOBRA’s weird story.

“Ready to Strike” is dated, yet it still holds up well more than 30 years later. “Hunger” today continues to carry a pleasing power groove while the slamming succession of “Shadow Rider”, “Shake Up”, “Breakin’ Out” and “Piece of the Rock” are funneled by Carmine Appice’s vigorous rhythms. Far heavier on the guitars, naturally, this album doesn’t let up for most of the ride until the checked down “Tough Guys”. That one benefits from Johnny Rod’s relaxed bass lines and Mark Free’s elevated pipes. Still carrying a kick and a snazzy tag solo, the twinkling synths and bubbly choruses give preview as to where KING KOBRA would soon be heading.

“Attention” is a fast and rumbling answer to DOKKEN’s “Turn On The Action” with perhaps a smidge more finesse. Carmine Appice’s aggressive romping with double kicks, jazzy snare taps and cymbal dancing sets “Attention” upon a speedy course with huge riffs—this album is packed with them—tumbling right behind him.

“Ready to Strike” is dated, yet it still holds up well more than 30 years later. “Hunger” today continues to carry a pleasing power groove while the slamming succession of “Shadow Rider”, “Shake Up”, “Breakin’ Out” and “Piece of the Rock” are funneled by Carmine Appice’s vigorous rhythms. Far heavier on the guitars, naturally, this album doesn’t let up for most of the ride until the checked down “Tough Guys”. That one benefits from Johnny Rod’s relaxed bass lines and Mark Free’s elevated pipes. Still carrying a kick and a snazzy tag solo, the twinkling synths and bubbly choruses give preview as to where KING KOBRA would soon be heading.

“Attention” is a fast and rumbling answer to DOKKEN’s “Turn On The Action” with perhaps a smidge more finesse. Carmine Appice’s aggressive romping with double kicks, jazzy snare taps and cymbal dancing sets “Attention” upon a speedy course with huge riffs—this album is packed with them—tumbling right behind him.

“Dancing With Desire” was, in a sense, the surprise cut on an album largely focused upon one banging ditty after another. Acoustic-led with some of “Ready to Strike”‘s finest harmonizing, harmonizing being another of the album’s attributes, “Dancing With Desire” is wonderfully constructed and sung sensuously. It’s a power ballad delivered with conviction and sensibility, not schmaltz. While there’s a hint of the SCORPIONS sprinkled into “Dancing With Desire”, KING KOBRA just might’ve scored a hit number or two before “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)” had it been smarter pushed.

The pressure to go for the sure thing ironically ended up being KING KOBRA’s biggest misstep. As corporate rock was looking for another SURVIVOR to match up to Hollywood blockbusters, since movie soundtracks of the ’80s were big business, KING KOBRA did come ready to answer that call. Unfortunately, this uber-harmonic shift alienated much of the band’s cult following while Bret Michaels and company rode the same image all the way to MTV and the biggest arena party of the group’s time. A so-so anthem to a B action movie doesn’t quite measure up to near-hourly television exposure—a shame, really, because KING KOBRA, in the beginning, was one to talk about back in the day.

King Kobra
Ready to Strike
Rock Candy Records

★★★☆☆

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here