ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JUNE 30, 1989
By Steve Newton
Diehard Led Zeppelin fans were either impressed or outraged when Kingdom Come’s debut album came out two years ago. The LP–made here in Vancouver at Little Mountain Sound and produced by Bob Rock–sounded an awful lot like a tribute to (or cloning of) Messrs. Page and Plant. Critics lambasted the band, but that didn’t stop kids from buying the album, which has sold 1.3 million copies to date.
“I think everybody was really psyched about the Zeppelin thing at the time,” says Kingdom Come bassist/keyboardist Johnny B. Frank, on the line from North Hollywood last week. “But there was a whole side to the first album that nobody even really paid attention to and that was the stuff that didn’t sound real Zeppelin-ey. I think more of that is getting attention this time.”
The band’s latest LP, In Your Face, shows Kingdom Come coming into its own to some degree–gone are the blatant rip-offs of “Kashmir” that marred the debut. Lead singer Lenny Wolf hasn’t quite gotten over his infatuation with Robert Plant’s vocal style, but that’s no real problem. Songs like “Stargazer”, “Do You Like It”, and “Gotta Go (Can’t Wage a War)” are nifty melodic-metal tunes lit wite-hot by the sterling axemanship of guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier.
The album was co-produced by Wolf and famed hitmaker Keith Olsen, although Frank admits the band would have preferred to have Bob Rock behind the controls for their second album as well.
“We tried to get him, but Bob Rock’s about the busiest guy on the face of the earth since our first album. We were one of the first bands he ever produced, and after that he got tons of work–Motley Crue, the Cult, everybody. We would have had to wait a couple of months for him, and we just didn’t have the time.”
Frank looks back fondly on the three months that his band spent in Van, recording its debut.
“It was the middle of summer, and Bob Rock’s got a couple of jet skis, so it was really cool. The Coast Guard got a little pissed off at us though–we were buzzin’ the party boasts a little too close, I guess.”
Kingdom Come recorded In Your Face in half the time it took to make the first record, but Frank says the approach to recording that Keith Olsen took was not very different from that of Bob Rock.
“Bob captured the sound that we were puttin’ down, and he made a few suggestions that were real good, but none that led to any major changes. And with Keith it was the same, where he basically liked what he was hearin’ and just wanted to get it down on tape real quick and get it done.”
When Kingdom Come returns to Vancouver for its show this Wednesday (July 5) at 86 Street the band will be backed up by another L.A.-based band, Warrant, which has a hit album on its hands with Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. Both bands are coming off failed tours as support acts for Black Sabbath and Ratt respectively.
“There aren’t that many great tours this summer,” says Frank. “That’s why we went with Black Sabbath. And they actually sounded really good; I just don’t think anybody cared. But they weren’t using our name in the promotion enough to draw any people. We were playing for 1,000 to 1,500 people a night when we were supposed to play for 3,000, so they decided to pack up their bags and go home.”
Although the current pairing with Warrant could prove a strong draw in the weeks to come, poor concert attendance has been something that Kingdom Come has had to deal with even before the cancellation of the Sabbath tour. They saw a lot of empty seats as the opening act for last summer’s ill-fated Monsters of Rock tour.
“We had so many offers last year to go on tour–with Def Leppard, David Lee Roth, and AC/DC–that now when we look back we think that we should have went with Def Leppard. Their tour lasted 10 months, and it would have just taken us farther.
“But the Van Halen Monsters of Rock thing was good exposure because they were talkin’ about it a lot on TV, and it was the biggest concert to ever hit the road. So it was nice to be a part of that, and be with all those great bands.”