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King Kobra: Ready To Strike/Thrill of a Lifetime (Reissues)

There's a reason King Kobra rates more than just a footnote in Eighties' rock history. The pretty-boy band -- featuring four very blonde dudes and dark-haired drummer Carmine Appice -- proved to be a breeding ground of sorts for future members of Foreigner, Blue Murder, Bulletboys and W.A.S.P. And original vocalist Mark Free later went on to become Marcie Free.

Signed to Capitol Records in the mid-1980s, Free, Appice and three other players recorded Ready To Strike (1985) and Thrill of a Lifetime (1986) -- two albums without many similarities. Both are available once again on CD through these Caroline Records reissues. Designed to replicate the original album packaging (including the inner sleeves and references to album sides in the track listings), these versions are "lovingly remastered" -- at least according to the sticker on the front -- to sound great. But with more than two decades worth of hindsight, it's not hard to conclude that there was nothing too original about King Kobra.

Side One of Ready To Strike was standard, of-its-time, fast n' mean hard rock-slash-lite metal, bordering on the inconsequential. But on Side Two, King Kobra begins to diversify, with all five tracks sounding like they were written and performed by different bands. Particularly noteworthy is "Dancing With Desire," a track that was actually ahead of its time and one that a band such as, say, Hammerfall, would have killed for a decade and a half later.

On Thrill of a Lifetime, King Kobra failed to live up to its menacing name and heavier debut, becoming fluffier with a more-dominant keyboard sound, a Loverboy fixation ("Dream On") and even a movie soundtrack hit -- "Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)" -- from the Air Force flick Iron Eagle, and it landed somewhere between Sammy Hagar and Kenny Loggins. Then there's the misguided rap-rocker "Home Street Home," which also was ahead of its time but certainly didn't need to be on this record.

These are straight-ahead remastered reissues, with no new liner notes to give the band context or bonus tracks from King Kobra's sizely vault. Still, if you're of a certain age, the music, the packaging and the scary-ass photos of band members will make for some nostalgic fun

Track Listings
Ready To Strike:
Side One:
1) Ready To Strike
2) Hunger
3) Shadow Rider
4) Shake Up
5) Attention

Side Two:
6) Breakin' Out
7) Tough Guys
8) Dancing With Desire
9) Second Thoughts
10) Piece of the Rock

Thrill of a Lifetime:
Side One:
1) Second Time Around
2) Dream On
3) Feel the Head
4) Thrill of a Lifetime
5) Only the Strong Will Survive

Side Two:
6) Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)
7) Home Street Home
8) Overnight Sensation
9) Raise Your Hands To Rock
10) Party Animal

Added: September 15th 2008
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official King Kobra Web Site
Hits: 3914
Language: english

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