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King Kobra: King Kobra

Ahh vintage 1985, the clothes, the hair, the music!! King Kobra's debut album, Ready To Strike is released and becomes one my favorite Metal records, period, much less just one of my favorite's of the '80's. Legendary drummer, Carmine Appice's (Cactus, Jeff Beck, Ozzy, Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge) new band would soon get heads to turn with 4 platinum blond and pink streaked haired band members to contrast against his dark brown. An attention getter? Of course it was and they even wrote a song, "Attention" just about it that was on that debut. Who could forget the video for the tune, "Hunger" that was dimly lit, with shadows across their faces so you could barely make them out? In 1985, the guitar duo of Mick Sweda (who would go on to form Bulletboys) and David Michael-Philips (ex-Icon) would carve out an incredible, unmistakable guitar tone and fire up an albums worth of amazing, Thin Lizzy like, twin guitar harmonizing pyrotechnics. Ready To Strike featured the talents of Appice, Sweda & Philips on guitar, Johnny Rod (who went on to play in W.A.S.P.) on bass and angelic voiced Mark Free (Unruly Child, Signal) on vocals. Of course most people know that Mark Free is now Marcie Free and still has a great voice, but that's an entirely different story.

2011 finds King Kobra back on the boards with an all original lineup, minus Free and now featuring the equally legendary West Coast vocalist, the awesome Paul Shortino, of Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot fame. And of course you also remember Shortino as "Duke Fame" in the classic movie Spinal Tap (sorry Paul, couldn't resist!). Shortino has ALWAYS had a set of killer pipes that were steeped in the blues and with the rasp of a male Janis Joplin, but how would they fit in with KK? First off, the band does not sound like that '85 debut whatsoever and I've gotta admit, I was a bit disappointed at first. Gone is that amazing guitar tone, something that always set them apart from the pack, as well as a lot of the guitar work that was familiar and in came a much more bluesier approach that suits Shortino's wailing better. I know it is NOT 1985, but I want what I want, damn it!

The new, self titled album, King Kobra (Frontiers Records) features 12 songs filled mostly with straight ahead rockers with a couple of softer ballad, radio friendly songs thrown in. CD opener, "Rock This House", fires up the record with an uptempo tune and finds Shortino's voice in top form, while Appice gets to throw in some double bass chops right off the bat. "Turn Up The Good Times" keeps the ball rolling with another solid rocker that is more Hard Rock than Metal and next up is "Live Forever" that has radio hit written all over it. Although in '11, what radio would that be?!! This song instantly gets stuck in your head with its uber catchy chorus. This DOES sound very much like something out of the glorious '80's but does NOT sound sappy at all and features a nice twin guitar harmony solo. The band sounds pretty damn good and I just can't get over how awesome Paul Shortino's vocals sound. I was a big Rough Cutt fan and he sounds as good now as he did in '84 on their debut album! Time has been good to him, as it has been to Carmine Appice! Appice also sounds great and just does NOT seem to EVER age! The guy has played with EVERYONE and still brings it. Other standout tracks on King Kobra are "This Is How We Roll", another balls out rocker with a great groove and some killer lead guitar work, the sultry feel of "You Make It Easy" and the anthem/arena rock sound of "Tear Down The Walls", with another great harmonized solo by Sweda and Michael-Philips and complete with the '80's styled background gang chanted chorus!

I am a sucker for wanting things just as they were 25-30 years ago and I also know that isn't realistic, but that being said, this is a really good comeback for King Kobra. The songs are solid (though I could have done without the heart tugging ballads), the guitar work by Mick Sweda and David Michael-Philips is great and the rhythm section of Johnny Rod and Carmine Appice is tight as hell, as you would expect. The 2011 King Kobra doesn't sound like the 1985 version, but that's OK, this a re-launch of the King Kobra brand and it sounds good on its own. Hard Rockin', bluesy, good time music, Welcome back!

Track Listing

  1. Rock This House
  2. Turn Up The Good Times
  3. Live Forever
  4. Tear Down The Walls
  5. This Is How We Roll
  6. Midnight Woman
  7. We Got A Fever
  8. Top Of The World
  9. You Make It Easy
  10. Crying Turns To Rain
  11. Screaming For More
  12. Fade Away

Added: April 23rd 2011
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 1703
Language: english

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