When the King Kobra album dropped into my inbox, I thought there was something familiar about the name, but just couldn't quite put my finger on it. After a quick internet search, I still wasn't sure how or why the name was familiar to me, but what I can tell you is that this band produce some fantastic rock songs.
The band itself was formed by drumming legend Carmine Appice back in the early 1980s and recorded two albums ('Ready To Strike' in 1985 and 'Thrill Of A Lifetime' in 1986) before the band spilt up, only to reform again in 2010 when they released the 'King Kobra' album. This new release is quite simply a dozen quality rock songs that just makes you wonder why the band haven't been a bigger success.
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From the opening strains of 'Hell On Wheels' to the final notes of 'We Go Round', this album is firmly placed on my play list for August 2013. 'Hell On Wheels' rams like an express train through your speakers with its relentless beat provided by Appice alongside some great guitar riffs provided by David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda.
Likewise, the track 'Knock 'Em Dead' features an outstanding guitar solo that seems to come out of nowhere. 'Have A Good Time' shows the band's bluesy side with a nice mid-paced track that is still a solid track with its catchy chorus thrown in for good measure.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'The Ballad Of Johnny Rod' which proves that the band have a sense of humour about things with this (almost) comedic track telling the fictional story of bass player Johnny Rod. With it's lyrical guitar opening, the main riff kicks in and we're off and running. Sandwiched in between the old fashioned intro and outro, this track has an almost Van Halen sound to it as it gallops along, before the guitar solo really adds extra depth to the track.
Vocalist Paul Shortino really sparkles on this song with his gravely voice as he talks through some sections of the song before wailing out the awesomely catchy chorus of "Somebody, somebody get the Police, lock me up for Hell Raising - I'm guilty in the first degree". Truly a great song and no doubt about it.
It's not all harsh rock n' roll, though as they demonstrate with 'Take Me Back', the album's softest number with it's acoustic intro and harmonised backing vocals. The slow paced track is a timely reminder that some of the best songs aren't necessarily the fastest. Again, it's very catchy chorus, "take me back to New Orleans", just adds an extra dimension to the song, and has Shortino sounding not unlike Whitesnake mainman David Coverdale at times.
"When The Hammer Comes Down is one of Appice's showpiece tracks as he lays down the beat early on, showcasing his supreme talent for drum fills as does "The Crunch". The latter of which is another of my favourite tracks on the album - it's just a straightforward rock songs with no frills about it.
Although I wasn't sure what to expect initially, it's safe to say that the 'II' album is certainly worth seeking out if you like good, solid rock and roll and I have no problems at all giving this a clear five out of five rating. All we need now, is to see if the band can do some live dates to back the album up - so how about it, boys?
Hell On Wheels
Knock 'Em Dead
Have A Good Time
The Ballad Of Johnny Rod
Take Me Back
When The Hammer Comes Down
Got It Comin'
Don't Keep Me Waiting
We Go Round
King Kobra are:
Paul Shortino - Vocals
David Michael-Philips - Guitar
Mick Sweda - Guitar
Johnny Rod - Bass
Carmine Appice - Drums