REVIEW: Kingdom Come – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection

KINGDOM COME – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection (2003 Universal)

Kingdom Come are a German/American band that rose from the ashes of Stone Fury.  For those who may not remember, Kingdom Come were quite infamous in their day.  Gary Moore wrote a song called “Led Clones” (with Ozzy singing lead) about Kingdom Come and bands of their ilk who were seen to be milking the now defunct Zeppelin cow.  The “Led Clones” riff directly aped “Kasmir” by Zeppelin, as did Kingdom Come’s lead single “Get It On”.  A little Zeppelin influence is fine, but Kingdom Come enraged Jimmy Page himself when one of their guitarists claimed he’d never heard a Led Zeppelin album.

The Zeppelin angle was one direction that Kingdom Come exploited in their early days, and though they grew out of it by their second album, the damage had been done. Their nickname became “Kingdom Clone”, the punchline of many jokes. This is why a simple 20th Century Masters compilation may be all the Kingdom Come you actually need.  Herein you will find all but one of their hits, and a fair few tracks from their first three studio albums.  Two guys from this band ended up in Warrant:  Rick Steier and James Kottak, who is also the longest-serving drummer that the Scorpions have ever employed.  By the third album, the original lineup had completely dissolved leaving singer Lenny Wolf the sole original member.

The one missing hit is a track called “Loving You” from the first LP, an acoustic ballad, sort of a sub-“Battle of Evermore”.  The other hits are here:

  • “Get It On”, the single that made them famous, which wears its Zep influences on its sleeves.
  • “What Love Can Be”, essentially Lenny Wolf’s transparent rewrite of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”.
  • “Do You Like It”, the first single from sophomore album In Your Face.

Lenny could have gotten away with some of the Zeppelin references if he didn’t try to sing so many Plant-isms.  You can only ma-ma-ma so much before you sound like Robert Plant, and Lenny could have tried to be his own singer instead.  You have to lay some of that at the feet of producer Bob Rock, who could have said, “Cut that shit out.”

The second album was a move away from that.  Keith Olsen got a sharper, more vibrant sound than Bob Rock did (though Rock really got a great drum sound for James Kottak).  Reportedly, some stores refused to stock the second LP because they thought the band’s name was Kingdom, and the album called Come In Your Face.  Too bad, because the incendiary “Do You Like It” was critically acclaimed for its drive.  The other In Your Face tracks included here absolutely represent a move away from Zeppelin and towards a more mainstream, slightly European rock sound.  Good songs, especially the mid-tempo “Gotta Go (Can’t Wage a War)”.

The third album, Hands of Time, came and went without a sound and Lenny was dropped from the label.  Reviews suggested it was soft and ballad oriented, but there are two decent slow rockers here from that album.  “Should I” has a slow grind topped by a passionate vocal.  The one included ballad, “You’re Not the Only…I Know” has a weird title but a great melody.

The great thing about the 20th Century Masters series is the ability to get key hits for a low price from bands that you may not want albums from.  The 11 tracks on the Kingdom Come edition are all worth owning, no duds in the bunch.  That makes this CD an easy one to pull the trigger on.

4/5 stars

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34 comments

  1. Cool review Mike.

    For the mostpart ignore most Hits records when a band’s studio albums qualify, and this was certainly the case here. Regardless the Clone accussations the Kingdom Come sophomore was far removed and on its own a Beast of a record. I’d go so far as to say In Your Face was a genre classic for its time, to my ears they never achieved such magnificence again until 97’s Master 7.

    So with that in mind while agree this Essentials collection would make for a good intro for newcomers, In Your Face surpasses such a release and I might add would be well worth a Ladano review hmmm…!? ;)

    Cheers Mike thanks for the read :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well dude I don’t own In Your Face! I have seen it on CD before but not usually in good enough shape to make the buy! I would prefer the Kingdom Come remasters — I believe they sometimes have bonus tracks!

      Really a shame that the second album didn’t have a chance!

      Cheers Wardy!

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      1. Not sure either that In Your Face got a remaster treatment other than the Japan mini-LP release a whike back (anyone ever got one of those, what are they other than housed in a mini LP sleeve?) But surely Rock Candy or so eone should pick it up.

        Ya gotta score it when you can Mike, seriously strong record. I mean after Do You Like It straight outta the gates followed by the mighty Who Do You Love, ball busting stuff fer sure. Unfortunately while it did well the record never quite did as good as it should because of that false start you rightly mentioned, bloody shame I tell you…

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  2. I’ve got the S/T and In Your Face but I’m only really familiar with the debut but I’ll have to give the other one a spin after reading Wardy’s comment! It always seemed to me that this band got too much of a hard time, but they did make things worse by denying the influence… I seem to recall an over-hyping too? Shame, cause the music holds up on its own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the record label really did push and hype these guys. Full page colour ads in the magazines. And yeah, the music stands up. Listening to this and Bonham — why was it OK for Bonham to do this sound, but not Kingdom Come? Birthright I guess?

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  3. I was onboard with the debut and the followup as well. Yeah they go hammered in the press as Clones but so what if it’s a good tune it’s a good tune! Your right Rock got a deadly drum sound on the debut but like you said as well the damage was done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It must have been pretty devastating to be in Kingdom Come when here comes Gary Moore and Ozzy Osbourne with Led Clones! They must have felt like hiding! I need to get that Gary Moore album incidentally, I don’t have Led Clones on any of the many Ozzy compilations!

      Rock has a knack for a killer drum sound. That doesn’t explain St. Anger of course. But he went from this to Blue Murder & the Cult…

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      1. Metallica on the Monsters of Rock tour did a mash up of all the bands in one song. They did snippets of HALEN/Scorps/Dokken and when it came time to do Kingdom Come they did a snippet of Zeppelin!
        Ouch..and these were guys u were boring with!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have the S/T on vinyl. I really like that album. I was digging the Led Zep influences.
    Who gives a shit if they sound like Led Zep. They were awesome, and they broke up so why not emulate them.
    How many bands emulate Black Sabbath in the stoner rock category? (I’m not complaining, because I love them, just saying)
    I think I need to find more of their albums.
    As for Bob Rock, his glory days are longggg over. I wish he had retired just before he met The Tragically Hip and completely ruined those records.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant, Mike. I had a chuckle imagining Jimmy’s rage at the “never heard a Led Zep album” line. He obviously liked that excuse, cause, eh, “I’ve never heard Spirit”. Led Zep were great and all, but they stole an awfy lot.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cause Zep ripped off the blues and folk and plugged it in, rocked it up and howled at the moon like a tortured maremaid man.

        I don’t mind ‘borrowing’, but acting like no one else can is a bit shitty. And denying that they’d heard the music they’re borrowing from is also pretty shitty.

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      1. I found Gary Moore through End of the World. Love that tune! I was waiting for Diver Down to come out. I was one of those kids who called the radio station all the time to get info. Knew it was coming out soon. Early one morning I heard the intro to End of the World…I was like is that it? No its new Sabbath…no maybe Van Halen…Found a new guitarist that day RIP Gary Moore

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I was much later than you. I never heard any Gary Moore music at all until…jeez, I was probably working at the Record Store! I hadn’t heard his music with Lizzy. I hadn’t been exposed to his solo albums. The first Gary Moore I heard was “Still Got the Blues” which hooked me in.

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