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King Kobra – Ready To Strike/ Thrill Of A Lifetime

Label: Rock Candy
Format: CDs
Released: 2017
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 8/ 10, 6/10

So before Poison and Cinderella blew up in 1986, right when Motley went full glam in pinks/purples/white outfits with “Theater Of Pain”, and Twisted Sister (who looked more like drag queens on “Stay Hungry”), King Kobra were even more femininely dressed. KK was formed by drummer Carmine Appice after his time with Ozzy Osbourne from 1983-1984, joined by vocalist Mark Free, guitarist David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda, Johnny Rod on bass. In 1985, at the time on MTV, KK are one of the first who brought the androgynous side of glam metal to the channel. Ratt, Van Halen, Dokken, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi were still a mix of leather, studs, ripped up denim, and spandex, and not so pretty, or well polished, yet.


Ready To Strike (1985)
Opening title track to their debut combined the best of what makes glam metal what it is in sound and style – melodic clean and twin guitar leads, a crunch to the riffs, a backing (not overpowering) complimenting keys, and equally melodic voice, punchy driving rhythm, and reflective solo section. The albums single, ‘Hunger’ (I remember was played on MTV at the time), a song written by members of the Canadian metal band Kick Axe and was released by them in 1986 in The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack album. ‘Shadow Rider’ follows, keeps the edge and punch going, while ‘Shake Up’ keeps with the mid tempo flow, while ‘Attention’ kicks up the energy level. Keyboards return for ‘Breakin Out’ without drowning out the riffs, drums and bass – a problem that took over the followup “Thrill of A Lifetime”. Guitars drop out during the verses for ‘Tough Guy’s and contradicts its title. The synthesizer sounds of the decade can be heard coming through some of the guitars, and there is only one ballad of the ten.

Thrill Of A Lifetime (1986)
So this followup was not the thrill of a lifetime for King Kobra, regardless of the album featuring ‘Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)’, the theme song of the 1986 film Iron Eagle. By the first time around listening to opening keyboards with sleek guitar tone, ‘Second Time Around’ had succumbed to the times – watered down guitars and an overpowering keyboard. Still, it’s a great song, catchy and poppy, but this formula took over the entire album. ‘Overnight Sensation’ and ‘Raise Your Hands To Rock’ are the lone two that recall the metal edged sound from the debut. And what is with the over synthesized rap duet on ‘Home Street Home’?

Both albums are remastered with liner notes that includes pictures and interviews with the band members.


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