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King Kobra - Reissues album review

Famous drummer’s not-so-famous 80s band

Cover art for King Kobra - Reissues album

When the impressively moustachioed Carmine Appice formed LA rock act King Kobra in 1984, he was an established big hitter – in terms of his explosive drumming style and his CV, which included stints backing Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne.

For two other members of King Kobra, this band was a hair-metal finishing school: guitarist Mick Sweda going on to brief success with BulletBoys, and bassist Johnny Rod joining W.A.S.P. And for singer Mark Free, it was the first big break in a career in which, following gender reassignment and a new identity as Marcie Free, she currently stars in AOR group Unruly Child.

King Kobra’s first two albums, now reissued by Rock Candy, were the best they made. 1985 debut Ready To Strike (610) majored on high-energy hard rock, but 1986’s Thrill Of A Lifetime (810) was slicker, more melodic and featured one of the great 80s anthems in Iron Eagle (Never Say Die), the theme to hit movie and Top Gun knock-offIron Eagle.

When that album bombed, Free departed. There was a third album in 1988 before the band split, and two more since a 2010 reunion, with Paul Shortino, ex-Rough Cutt, on vocals. But without Free and that one-in-a-million voice, the thrill was gone.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”