I remember all the furore when Kingdom Come was released back in 1988, snide comments from Kerrang! reviewers, letters to Metal Hammer, protest marches in all European capitals, The U.S.S.R joining arm-in-arm with the USA to jointly propose a UN Security Council motion preparing the ground for the immediate invasion of Lenny Wolf (possibly). Never could see the fuss myself, so thanks to all the publicity I bought it in March that year. Well, thanks to the publicity and the fact I’ve always been a sucker for marble-effect covers on LPs.
In the Great Rock Courtroom Kingdom Come were accused of that most heinous of crimes, aping Led Zeppelin. The prosecution rested on the fact that the best tracks like ’17’ and ‘What Love Can Be’, were basically spliced together from the DNA of several Led Zep tunes and vocalist Lenny Wolf had no business sounding exactly like Wolverhampton’s favourite son when he came from Hamburg*. The prosecution summoned witness after witness to give damning testimony against the band, but one courageous and roguishly handsome young fellow refused to be cowed and took up the case for the defence, me (obviously, because this is my blog and if I can’t be the hero I’m just not playing).
Sensing he was up against it he, umm, I shuffled up to face the jury and gave a speech of such blinding eloquence that those who were there t hear it account themselves blessed to this very day.
‘Umm, I only own Led Zep II and it doesn’t sound much like that, I think Kingdom Come‘s alright really and that. Anyway don’t Krokus just copy AC/DC all the time? Burn them!’
So having got Kingdom Come freed on a technicality, I think Krokus were summarily executed by being fired from a big cannon.
It’s all true, in a sort of not literally true at all sense of the meaning. Arguments about musical legitimacy are fraught with selective revisionist historical attitudes anyway, how many times did Led Zep (who I deeply cherish) rip off various early bluesmen? check out recent song-writing credits on Led Zeppelin II, compared to an original copy and you’ll see my point. It isn’t like bands hadn’t been merrily ripping off Led Zeppelin for years and years anyway – okay so I know the counter-argument is that most had the good grace/guile to hide it a bit, whereas this lot were just too blatant to stomach.
They were too, ’17’ is by far the best track here – when I first heard it I was only 16, so as far as I was concerned it was a song about older girls! 25 years on … I feel a little seedier singing along, but hey, I still did.
It’s just great, drum echo robbed from ‘When the Levee Breaks’? check. Jimmy Page’s guitar sound, simplified, stolen out the back of his car when he wasn’t looking? check. Robert Plant’s vocal chords, ‘borrowed’ one night whilst he slept? check. But you know what? it works for me, probably because it was just such great source material anyway, but it does really work. ’17’ is a smooth cruising lust machine of a track – does it matter that Kingdom Come would fail a rock paternity test on it?
There are other minor highlights such as ‘Pushin Too Hard’ where Robert Plant’s sex God stuttering is reborn and ‘What Love Can Do’ a slick Zep-lite ballad, both of which are good. However there is a fairly high dross percentage here, tracks such as ‘Shout it Out’ and ‘Hideaway’ just have a MOR 80s rock vibe that I don’t like, slightly treble-heavy production, very average song writing skills – nothing terrible, just not good.
You know what my problem with Kingdom Come is? it doesn’t sound enough like Led Zeppelin.
P.S – the last word goes out to the late-lamented Gary Moore and a track of his with Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals.
*check out 1537’s research, Bitchez!