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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » King Kobra - 1985 Ready To Strike
King Kobra - 1985 Ready To Strike

ARTIST: King Kobra
ALBUM: Ready To Strike
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST 12386
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1994, ATM (Germany), BTCD 979470 * 2000, Axe Killer (France), 3057232 * 2017, Rock Candy Records, CANDY298


LINEUP: Mark Free - vocals * David Michael Phillips - guitars * Mick Sweda - guitars * Johnny Rod - bass * Carmine Appice - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ready To Strike * 02 Hunger * 03 Shadow Rider * 04 Shake Up * 05 Attention * 06 Breakin' Out * 07 Tough Guys * 08 Dancing With Desire * 09 Second Thoughts * 10 Piece Of The Rock


Journeyman drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, DNA) was coming off a brief stint with Ozzy Osbourne ( having been fired after a merchandising row with Sharon Osbourne) when he decided to put a new band of unknowns together. Appice had been cutting some demos with Earl Slick (David Bowie) and wanted Free to put vocals on them. From this King Kobra was born, Appice enlisting the above lineup, without Sweda initially. He replaced Mike Wolfe who was the original choice, but he soon left in favour of the future Bulletboys man. Somehow securing a major label deal with Capitol, the debut was produced by Spencer Proffer who had caused Quiet Riot so much grief in the 'Metal Health' glory days (as in hording a large share of QR's takings). This debut was met with widespread acclaim, indeed a mostly sophisticated set of mid 80's commercial metal which beckoned at bigger things for the promising group.

The Songs
Opening pair 'Ready To Strike' and 'Hunger' are close to perfection, breathless slabs of energy and melody, essentially heavy metal. The riffs are tight and the choruses are typically desperate, an 80's trademark. Keyboard use is there, but marginal at best, not intruding on the basic five piece sound. 'Shadow Rider' is a medium paced grinder, but the scorching twin attack of Sweda and Phillip's works well here. The commercial side of KK appears with 'Shake Up', with Free delivering a blazing vocal effort, with intricate guitar fills adding to a made for radio hook. In no capacity is it as obvious as 87's 'Thrill Of A Lifetime' AOR excellence however. 'Attention' moves at pace, but the main chorus has a cornball element in the harmony which is charmless to say the least. This cannot be said of 'Breakin' Out' a genuine classic with soaring layers of melody and a relentless dual riff war between the guitar duo. An inevitable power ballad is included in the form of 'Dancing With Desire', an endless acoustic ridden escapade, which bores more than it entertains. The situation is barely rescued by 'Second Thoughts', a faceless melodic rocker, and 'Piece Of The Rock', an attempt at an anthem which fails to sustain a winning hook needed for such a track.

In Summary
When KK reappeared in 1986 with 'Thrill Of A Lifetime', the sound was AOR personified, the basic hard rock/metal sound of the debut forgotten. Rather than being a bad thing, it was an improvement on the debut, which veered between the memorable and the forgettable. Listeners were turned off by sweat inducing tunes like 'Feel The Heat', 'Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)' and 'Second Time Around'. Thus KK were unfairly dumped by Capitol which led to the departures of Free, Sweda and Rod. Rumours had it that Free was unhappy with the direction of the band's sound, but ironically, his turn with Signal was in keeping with 'Thrill's AOR direction more than the metal influence of the debut. In summation 'Ready To Strike' put the band on a platform they tried hard to stay on, it allowed them to tour with Iron Maiden and Kiss, but wasn't as good as many thought. When they met their potential with their next two albums, the audience was gone, leading to the inevitable split.

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#1 | sabace on July 16 2006 15:27:27
great aor
#2 | rostoned on June 22 2008 17:40:56
This and the follow up 'Thrill of...' got reissued SO many times in the digital format I lost count! Maybe too many times for their own worth (while other kick ass titles are still missing) but that's another story....Labels involved: ATM/Bear Tracks, Axe Killer, Emi Japan, Caroline US. Am I forgetting somebody or someone here???
#3 | englandashes on January 10 2011 12:18:14
Been playing this again for a couple of days, and really enjoy it, especially Shakedown, and the Kick Axe song, Hunger. I notice on the song writing credits a 'H.Banger', I assumed is a ghost writer, using Head.Banger as a hidden alias, any idea who the actual writer was...?
#4 | gdazegod on April 22 2011 03:12:30
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