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KING KOBRA – Thrill of a Lifetime

King Kobra – Thrill Of A Lifetime [Limited Mini LP Edition] (2008, Caroline Records)
Original Release: 1986, Capitol Records

1. “Second Time Around” … 4:09
2. “Dream On” … 4:29
3. “Feel The Heat” … 3:58
4. “Thrill Of A Lifetime” … 4:12
5. “Only The Strong Will Survive” … 4:00
6. “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)” … 3:33
7. “Home Street Home” … 4:20
8. “Overnight Sensation” …  4:19
9. “Raise Your Hands To Rock” … 3:47
10. “Party Animal” … 3:58

Mark Free – Lead Vocals
David Micheal Philips – Guitar, Synthesizers, Backing Vocals
Mick Sweda – Guitar, Synthesizers, Backing Vocals
Johnny Rod – Bass, Backing Vocals
Carmine Appice – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Producer: Carmine Appice, Duane Hitchings and Spencer Proffer

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What happened to the band that gave us hard rockin’ guilty pleasures like “Ready to Strike” and “Hunger”? For the most part, they seem to have disappeared. Not that Ready to Strike is a heavy metal classic. It’s pure ’80s pop metal cheese but still a very good debut, in my opinion. Thrill Of A Lifetime lacks the bite and venom of the debut. It’s synth-heavy AOR/melodic rock pop that signals where Mark “Marcie” Free’s heart really was. This was Mark’s last album with the band, he would go on to form AOR outfits Signal in 19891 and Unruly Child in 1992.

“Dream On” (no, not the Aerosmith song) is by far the album’s best song and would have been better served if it was given a harder edge. The rest, I’m sad to say is fairly generic ’80s AOR music. There’s more keyboards than guitars on this album it seems! UGH!

But wait! That’s not at all! There’s rapping. Yes, rapping. “Home Street Home” is rap rock. I’m assuming this was done to cash in on the success of the Run DMC/Aerosmith collaboration on “Walk This Way” (which was released the same year this album was). So yeah, if you’ve ever wanted to hear Mark Free rapping about living on the streets, this is an essential album for you.

For the rest of us? Hardcore AOR fans may find a few worthy tunes but anyone who really liked the hard rock direction of Ready to Strike will probably be disappointed by this venom-less effort. How can a song called “Party Animal” come off sounding so limp? At least the band was able to gain some credibility back with King Kobra III.

Familiar with this album for years, I finally bought a copy just to fill a hole in my collection. Pretty interesting edition as my version is a mini-LP. It was listed as such when I ordered it but I thought maybe that meant the insert was an exact replica of how the vinyl looked or whatever. Not so. The album comes in a cardboard sleeve that is bigger than your standard jewel case and inside that sleeve is another sleeve featuring a photo of the band standing on roller coaster tracks on the front and all the lyrics and credits on the back. An exact replica of the original LP release, I imagine.

Pretty cool issue but I’m surprised to see this done for such a cult band. You’d think it’d be a much cooler and popular idea for more successful acts. Sadly, they didn’t go all out and make the CD look like the actual vinyl record. How could they miss that step? I’ve seen that done before and it always looks cool.

Highlights: “Second Time Around”, “Dream On”, “Raise Your Hands To Rock”

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