KING KOBRA – Ready To Strike [Rock Candy remastered]
Fronted by the unique Marcie (Mark) Free, KING KOBRA was one of the outstanding acts from the ’80s US Melodic Hard Rock scene. Their two first, most celebrated albums, have been ‘Remastered & Reloaded‘ by Rock Candy Records for our pleasure.
Criminally underrated during the hair metal heyday – King Kobra certainly deserved a huge success – the band combined the killer drumming of legend Carmine Appice with the talents of vocalist Mark Free (later Marcie Free), guitarists David Henzerling and Mick Sweda, and bassist Johnny Rod, the band’s first and best known lineup.
The first of the two albums reissued & remastered by Rock Candy Records is King Kobra’s debut, 1985’s “Ready To Strike“, and this is easily the more heavy, aggressive release of the two.
Musically they received plaudits for their compelling energy infused riffs, shout-it-out-loud hooks and high-flying vocals.
Produced by Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot, WASP, Cheap Trick) and signed to Capitol Records, the band’s debut album “Ready To Strike” won them the attention of fans and critics alike by delivering one of the year’s best records.
This album rocks hard, while at the same time definitely accessible and catchy. A great mix of heavy and melodic sounds, there are plenty of highlights to be had here, including the anthem ‘Hunger’, standing out with its melodic driven moments and arena-ready chorus.
There’s a great rocker in ‘Tough Guys’, a punchy killer tune on ‘Piece Of The Rock’, while the title track has that awesome atmosphere with its intriguing intro.
Another favorite is the hard rocking ‘Shadow Rider’, and even the great semi-power ballad in the form of ‘Dancing With Desire’.
Exactly why the band never quite took off has long been the subject of debate, with potential reasons ranging from emphasis in the music industry shifting, to the band getting the short end of the stick when it came to their publicity and representation from their record label. Regardless, the group was shortchanged and never achieved the possible commercial success.
Mick Sweda (and later members Marq Torien and Lonnie Vencent) would later jump ship and enjoy later success in Bulletboys, but even then, it has been stated in interviews with Appice that that band’s success with their first album resulted from their reworking of in-progress King Kobra songs!
Ready To Strike” should have been a major chart buster, but sadly, this was not to be. But, all the more reason it is worth rediscovering here with this very good Rock Candy remaster.
Mark / Marcie Free performance is jaw-dropping, the drums are a blast, and the songs kick major ass.
Certainly this record is one of the best examples of mid-80s US hard rock ever created.
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
Mark Free – lead and backing vocals
David Michael-Philips – guitars, backing vocals, synths
Mick Sweda – guitars, backing vocals, synths
Johnny Rod – bass, backing vocals
Carmine Appice – drums, backing vocals, percussion