REVIEW: King Kobra – Ready to Strike (1984)


IMG_20150607_142430KING KOBRA – Ready to Strike (1984 Capitol)

What happened to the good ship King Kobra? Hilarious misspelled name, silly coordinated hair colours (all but veteran drummer Carmine Appice, who complimented their red and blonde with his red and black), and production by the guy who brought you Quiet Riot — what could possibly go wrong? They even had their own “kobra” signature hand gesture, and weird complementary stage moves in an expensive music video.

When you have lyrics like, “I’m ready to strike, I’m cocked and loaded tonight,” but you’re not David Lee Roth or Gene Simmons, you’re already fighting an uphill battle.  Carmine saw the sudden success of bands like Quiet Riot, and decided “why the hell not”?  He picked up some great players for this project.  Bassist Johnny Rod ended up in W.A.S.P. later on.  David Michael-Phillips played with Lizzy Borden after Kobra.  Mick Sweda formed BulletBoys.  Mark Free formed Unruly Child, and ultimately became Marcie Free.  She still fronts Unruly Child today. Meanwhile Carmine Appice reformed this lineup of King Kobra, substituting in Paul Shortino for Free, and getting good reviews for it.

IMG_20150607_142053

So talent aside, there’s no worries there.  There are two major issues with this record.  One: the muddy Spencer Proffer production which lays a muffly blanket over the band.  All but Appice of course, who bears a very Frankie Banali-like sound on this album. The guitars are empty transistor radio renditions of what guitars should sound like. Two: filler material kept Ready To Strike from fulfilling its potential.

It’s not all filler of course — much of it is damn good.  The first three tracks in a row (“Ready to Strike”, “Hunger”, and “Shadow Rider”) are all really good, actually.  Famously, “Hunger” became a minor hit, although it was actually written by Canada’s Kick Axe, and recorded by them under the name Spectre General, for Transformers: The Movie in 1986!  I prefer the King Kobra version, because Mark Free really nailed that vocal.

Other decent tunes include “Shake Up”…I mean, it’s OK.  It has a good pre-chorus, “And the beat goes on and on and on…”, but the lines about home work and yard work were pretty goofy even back then. Like that one, “Tough Guys” is also a good tune (mid-tempo mellow rocker) sunk by a bad lyric. “The world’s greatest lie, is that all of us tough guys don’t cry.” No thanks, not cranking that one with the windows down.

Crummy tunes: “Attention”, “Piece of the Rock”, “Breakin’ Out” and “Dancing With Desire”. Stinky. I can’t decide how I feel about the overwrought “Second Thoughts”.

Overall: Middle of the road album that neither astounds nor repulses. It has enough good tunes to warrant a place in my collection. How about you?

3/5 stars

Advertisements

43 comments

  1. Ha…I liked Piece Of The Rock! Just give me a piece of the Rawk! I bought this at the time and I liked it..I’m with you on the production and Yep Theres filler littered throughout but there are some real good finds on here like u said in regards to the first three tracks!
    I only heard there followup once (Thrill Of A Lifetime?? If that’s what it was called) did nothing for me….but yeah I was sold at the time on this as Kick Axe Vices was gold in these parts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This band never got picked up on my radar until very recently. I think it was the Metal Evolution show… they used a picture of them and I had no idea who they were. A band with Johnny Rod and Carmine Appice? Wtf?! Thanks to the Internet I was able to find out who they were pretty quickly but now I know a bit more about them! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lemme tell you something Scott — I was watching some music videos from their new album with Paul SHortino. GOOD STUFF. I was impressed. The other four guys are still there!

      I heard some Unruly Child stuff too with Marcie Free. The stuff I heard was more pop that I expected. She still has the same voice which is interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well you know Carmine Appice for sure. I even bought one of his solo albums on our first record store excursion in 2012! Haven’t played it since 2012, but I got it!

      Like

        1. Actually that was Cozy Powell jumping over the drums!

          But yes you did give me Beck Bogart Appice. Jeez I need to play it again. It was good but I don’t remember much!

          Like

  3. Never heard of these dudes before … can’t think I’ve ever seen ‘group shots’ quite like theirs either. Magic. Look at those dudes! Forget Vegas, they had a residency in Midwich.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like this record. I bought it the day after Swedish television had shown the video for Hunger. It’s still their best album as far as I’m concerned, but the production could be better. Also, I never got why Kick Axe never released Hunger themselves. It’s a hit. Same thing with Piece Of The Rock, my other favourite here. Also written by Kick Axe, but I dunno if they ever recorded it themselves.

    Like

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s