King Kobra: ‘Ready To Strike’

Released on November 9, 1985 (Capitol/EMI); reissued on February 17, 2017 (Rock Candy Records)

King Kobra was formed by drummer Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Cactus) after he was unceremoniously sacked by Sharon Osbourne for ‘being too big of a name.’ Appice set out to put together his own band. He envisioned himself with all blonde bandmates. That just what he did as he enlisted singer Mark Free, guitarists Mick Sweda and David Michael-Philips, and bassist Johnny Rod with Appice on drums rounding out the line-up.

Producer Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P.) entered the studio with King Kobra and the end result was Ready To Strike, a relatively strong, melodic hard rock album. Free’s performance on the album makes everything come together splendidly. He makes average songs like the sappy, predictable “Tough Guys” a better song than it actually is. The best of the lot are “Ready To Strike” which sets the tone for the album with its aggressive overtones, “Shadow Rider” which showcases Free’s versatility and the hit “Hunger” where we were first introduced at the band for the first time. Overall Ready To Strike is a solid hard rock record that is sure to be the liking of those into AOR or melodic hard rock. The songs are good, others are great, and the performances are solid but the spotlight is on Free’s vocals. I feel that if King Kobra had continued on the path they blazed with Ready To Strike, they would have certainly been up there with Ratt and Mötley Crüe. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be.

Rock Candy Records, as per usual, have a fantastic deluxe booklet with liners and interviews by Malcolm Dome. One thing to note is that Mr. Dome has taken liberties with band quotes and changed some words around so that it reads better in [U.K.] English. I don’t know how I feel about that but it must have bothered me some because I’m writing about it.

Unlike Ready To Strike, the follow-up Thrill Of A Lifetime failed to connect with the fans. The album was keyboard heavy and more ‘easy listening’ than the hard rock music that we were introduced to on Ready To Strike. Thrill Of A Lifetime has no redeeming qualities as far as I’m concerned — the drums are lifeless, the songs are fluff, the cringeworthy rap influenced “Home Street Home” should have been reason enough for Capitol Records to pull the life support off this band.

Track List:
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

Band Members:
Mark Free – lead and backing vocals
David Michael-Philips – lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals, synthesizers
Mick Sweda – lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals, synthesizers
Johnny Rod – bass, backing vocals
Carmine Appice – drums, backing vocals, percussion, associate producer

Produced by Spencer Proffer
Engineered by Spencer Proffer and Duane Baron
Mastered by George Marino
Assistant engineer: Alex Woltman

Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, February 2017

King Kobra‘s “Hunger” video:


Video della canzone “Hunger” dei King Kobra dal disco “Ready To Strike” del 1985