Record Company: Polygram Records
Release Date: 1988
Producer: Bob Rock & Lenny Wolf
Web Site: http://www.kingdomcome.de/
Lenny Wolf ~ Vocals
Danny Stag ~ Lead Guitar
Rick Steier ~ Rhythm Guitar
Johnny B. Frank ~ Bass Guitar
James Kottak ~ Drums
1.) Living Out Of Touch [4:17] (Wolff/Wolf): The album opens with a killer riff... and when the band jumps in, it's immediately apparent that these guys are really on top of their game. They lay down a killer groove and Lenny belts out the vocals like a man possessed. A great hard rock jam with its roots firmly planted in the blues. Rating: 9/10
2.) Pushin' Hard [4:47] (Wolff/Wolf): This tune starts out with another hard-rockin' riff, but the band quickly kicks it down a notch to a more bluesy vibe. The song has a pretty wicked groove to it overall, with the band using a single guitar on the riffs, followed by both guitarists repeating the riff to give the line a bit more melodic punch. Lenny's range is used to full effect as well, ranging from soulful melodies to soaring howls. Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner. Rating: 10/10
3.) What Love Can Be [5:14] (Wolff/Wolf/Gowdy): This is the song that really hooked me on Kingdom Come. This is by far their bluesiest piece, and it really leans toward blues cliché in many respects, but the execution is so top-notch, you can't help getting into the groove. The rhythm section is deep in the pocket here... and the solo coming out of the break is a real show-stopper. This song still gets a lot of airtime around here. Rating: 12/10
4.) 17 [5:26] (Wolff/Wolf): An extended instrumental intro really gives you the Zep vibe, and when the lyrics kick in, you'd almost swear that the Zepmeisters never stopped recording... and you're actually listening to "Zeppelin VIII." The song is basically one long jam, with Wolfe interjecting his best plaintive Plant wails here and there. If you liked your Zep, you're gonna love this. Rating: 8/10
5.) The Shuffle [3:40] (Wolff/Wolf/Stag): Blazing guitar work fills the speakers to overflowing on this upbeat rocker. The riff takes on an almost organ-like sound during the verses... and the big drum sound drives the rhythm home with every beat. The break features Lenny and Danny doing their best Plant/Page style call-and-response, with Lenny's moans being echoed by Danny's guitars... and then they're off to the races again. A very catchy track. Rating: 9/10
6.) Get It On [4:21] (Wolff/Wolf): This song is a definite homage to Black Dog (with an updated late-80s hard rock sound). Like Page's classic riff, the line here is powerful and drenched in attitude. The band's delivery packs a big punch and the groove is tight enough to bounce a quarter off of. Lenny doesn't miss a chance to showcase his golden pipes either, wailing with enough power to make Coverdale wish he was twenty years younger. I remember this tune getting a pretty heavy rotation on MTV, which definitely helped cement the band's Led Clones image... but I think the comparisons tended to obscure the fact that what you were watching was a rock-solid band doing a pretty damn good song. Rating: 8/10
7.) Now "Forever After" [5:36] (Wolff/Wolf/Kottak): This song stands out a bit from the rest in my opinion. It has an upbeat feel to it and leans much closer to straight-ahead 80s hard rock than most of the other tunes on this disc. The song makes fairly extensive use of a keyboard to mirror the main riff, but it really adds to the atmosphere and mood, so you won't hear me complain. A melodic rocker with enough hooks to make Bon Jovi blush... and enough attitude and talent to make him just a little bit jealous. Rating: 10/10
8.) Hideaway [5:38] (Wolff/Wolf/Frank): Here's another stand-out from the Led pack. The guitars on this track scream attitude, delivering a short, choppy riff that counters the complex rock/blues lines featured on the other songs. There's a lot of space on the verses... and the drums and bass are way out front. The main line hits behind-the-beat on the choruses, giving the song a much looser vibe. This is the type of song that should have a warning sticker on it before you put it into a car stereo... because it just screams speeding ticket. Rating: 11/10
9.) Loving You [4:46] (Wolff/Wolf/Stag): The first appearance of a ballad, the clean electric riffs and mandolins make this one sound very Zep-like. Lenny does a convincing Plant impersonation here... and overall, the song would have been a nice companion piece for That's The Way. Well done. Rating: 8/10
10.) Shout It Out [3:37] (Wolff/Wolf): Surprisingly, the riff used on the intro and break of this track sounds like a fuller, more polished version of Def Lep's Hit An' Run. It is startingly similar, in fact. The similarity ends there, though... because these guys make Def Leppard sound like a garage band (and I love early Def Leppard). Obviously, this is a straight-ahead rocker, which makes it a bit of an oddity on this album... but like everything else here, the musicianship and delivery are A+. It's got a good beat... and you can rock out to it. I'd give it a "9." Rating: 9/10
When German-born Singer Lenny Wolfe's original band (Stone Fury) disbanded, the bigwigs at PolyGram were impressed enough to sign him for a record deal, despite the fact that he didn't even have a band. He eventually hired American musicians for Kingdom Come.
Singles for Get It On, What Love Can Be and Loving You launched this album to platinum status, but the backlash over the band's Zeppelin-inspired sound earned them the nickname "Kingdom Clone." When they released their second album, "In Your Face," the album didn't even make a dent in the charts.
The buzz over their first single earned them a spot opening the 1988 "Monsters of Rock" tour with Dokken, the Scorpions, Metallica and Van Halen. This was followed by a stint opening for the Scorpions in the U.S. on their "Savage Amusement" tour. However, they were eventually asked to surrender the slot... but not because of any problem with their perfomance. It was because Lenny Wolfe would continually run up onto the Scorpions stage set despite repeated warnings.
After the commercial failure of "In Your Face," the entire band quit and Wolfe went back to Germany, where he eventually assembled a new band and continued to perform and record. Steier and Kottack went on to form Wild Horses and released one album before they both eventually joined Warrant.
Ironically, the Scorpions' anger must have been reserved exclusively for Wolfe, because they asked drummer James Kottack to play on their 1999 album, "Eye II Eye." He's been a member of the band ever since. Also of note: Kottack's wife Athena plays drums with him in their side-project band (dubbed Kottack). She also happens to be Tommy Lee's little sister. I guess drummers like to keep it in the family.
The Last Word:
OK. I'll bet a lot of you remember these guys... and I'll bet that some of you saw Get It On and What Love Can Be on MTV and quickly wrote them off as a cheap Zep clone. If you did, I think you missed out on one of the best records of 1988.
Commercially, this album was fairly successful, but these guys still floundered as a perennial opening act, never quite making it to headliner status. At the same time, bands like Whitesnake struck paydirt and were selling out arenas in the U.S. not long after "Whitesnake" hit the shelves. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love me some Whitesnake... but you have to admit, Still Of The Night was nothing more than Kashmir on steroids. Come to think of it, the same could be said of Coverdale and Plant.
I'll admit it though: Saying these songs have a bit of a Zeppelinesque feel is like saying Stevie Ray Vaughan kind of liked the blues. However, I really think these guys have a lot more to offer and deserve much better than to be pigeon-holed as a simple tribute band.
Producer Bob Rock gave these guys a huge, full sound, which gave the songs added depth and impact. Of course, musically, the band was loaded with talent across the board... and Rock made sure that you could hear it in every note. The songwriting was also top-notch, managing to pay tribute to one of the greatest bands in history without copying them too closely. Like Whitesnake's big-ticket disc ("1987"), these songs don't sound exactly like Zeppelin... they sound like what Zeppelin might have sounded like in the late 80s. What's wrong with that? If you're gonna follow a band's lead, it certainly makes a lot more sense to copy a legendary supergroup like Zeppelin than to try to spoof some one-hit wonder.
Long story short, if you're a fan of 80s blues rock albums like "Whitesnake" and "Slip Of The Tongue"... you ought to love these guys. Give 'em a try...
I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Definitely RockHard approved.
The Bottom Line (AKA - The Six-Pack Scale):