KING KOBRA – King Kobra

King Kobra - King KobraRight now it feels like all I’m reviewing are albums by reunited 80’s band, most of which are bands that never played in the first division. Not because any of them were bad, but because every band can’t be huge, no matter how good they might be. King Kobra is one of those. Formed back in 1985 by drum virtuoso and legend Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Ozzy) he hand-picked his musicians whose skills both had to be in looks and musical perfection. The band (Mark Free, vocals, guitarists David Michael Philips and Mick Sweda and bassist Johnny Rod) released two well acclaimed albums, Ready To Strike and Thrill Of A Lifetime. But both albums failed to sell the part and soon both Free and Rod quit and were replaced by Marq Torien on lead vocals and Lonnie Vencent on bass, but nothing came of that and Vencent, Torien and Sweda left to form Bulletboys. Appice and Philips put together and new version of King Kobra with singer Johnny Edwards (later Foreigner), guitarist Jeff Northrup and bassist Larry Hart and released III, an album that failed completely and that really wasn’t any good. The band split but in the year of 2000 Appice tried once again with the album Hollywood Trash, that wasn’t much more than a project and shouldn’t really have been put out under the name King Kobra. Again, nothing happened.

But damn the quitters. It’s now 2011 and the newest trend for old bands seems to be reunions, so why not give it a go again, for real this time? So, Appice contacted the original line up, got a yes from everybody except from Mark Free, who now is a woman named Marcie, who declined and instead the singer job went to Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt), a man with a big voice. Shortino’s wide range and raspy voice is the perfect replacement for Free, who has a voice not too far away from that. The production here is heavier than the two first albums, but the music is still hard rock with a very melodic twist. However, even though this is a good album, the material has its flaws. ”Rock This House” and ”Turn Up The Good Times” are crunchy openers. They are both good, but they doesn’t really stick. On the other hand, first single ”Live Forever” is a killer, catchy as hell and feels perfect for rock radio, ”Tear Down The Walls” is also in that vein, just a bit heavier and ”Cryin’ Turns To Rain” is a brilliant ballad with big hit potential. But the biggest exclamation mark here is ”Red Flags” –  a brilliant track and the best on the whole album. The question is, why on earth is it here as a bonus track?? Big mistake.

To sum it up, good album, but not great. The performances are great, the band are great musicians and Shortino is still one of the best rock singers you could find. No bad tracks, but too many forgettable tunes. But no need to break up the band once again. I believe there is a killer album in there somewhere

Jon Wilmenius (6/10)

Tracklist:
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. Cryin’ Turns To Rain
11. Screamin’ For More
12. Fade Away
13. Red Flags (Bonus Track)

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