Boy does King Kobra have an interesting history. Formed by legendary drummer Carmine Appice and four peroxided L.A. unknowns, their debut Ready To Strike was tremendous with hits “Hunger” and “Ready To Strike”. Then came the second album Thrill Of A Lifetime. Granted it did have bad-ass album art and a big hit in “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)”. However the rest of the album was very synth heavy and shed any resemblance to the hard rock from their debut. Plus it had “Home Street Home”, the first rap-rock song EVER and it is atrocious. I mean absolutely horrendous. I m ean old people using slang to sound hip bad. The band was done and the revolving door opened. The big shock was when singer Mark Free announced he was having sexual reassignment surgery and became Marci Free.
Times being what the were, Carmine got the original band back together and reportedly offered Marci the position of singer again. She turned it down so they got Paul Shortino, ex-Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot to man the mic. They put out King Kobra last year and it was pretty good. Shortino’s blues based vocals suited the bands’ new stripped down direction.
On their newest release II, odd since this is their 5 studio album but whatever, King Kobra maintains the back to basics approach. It starts off with “Hell On Wheels” a great fist pumper that really sets the tone. What is surprising about this track is that it is over 6-minutes long but does not get old. A lot of this album defies rationale. The second track “Knock Em Dead” is in theory a very cliché track but it is done so well that you can’t help but like it.
Same can be said of the ballad “Take Me Back”. It is not something we haven’t heard before but its sincerity is off the charts and really propels the track. There’s also a couple of real nice poppier tracks in “The Crunch” and “We Go Round” to lighten the mood a bit.
You have to give King Kobra a lot of credit. They could have done the easy thing and put out albums of re-recorded material or a “covers” album but they buckled down and have made a good album in King Kobra and a great album with II. Very rare that a band is able to remake themselves and release a career defining album in their 25th year.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space