Prior to his years fronting AOR band Survivor, Jimi Jamison recorded a couple of excellent Hard Rock albums. Cobra was Jamison’s 2nd major recording act, having recorded 2 albums in the ’70s with Target [another time]. While on the Target albums Jamison came off at times more resembling of Paul Rodgers, on “First Strike” there is still that classic British hard-rock influence, but it is more so American hard-rock, made for radio.
First Strike was a guitar driven rock, with some lighter AOR rock, and a few decent ballads. The first 2 tracks – “Blood On Your Money” and “Only You Can Rock Me” both come out hard n heavy with big riffs and solos from Mandy Meyer [then ex of Krokus]. The first track was a single and MTV hit, with 2 further singles garnering more local support in Memphis. One single being the more laid back “Travelin’ Man” [that bass intro reminds of Uriah Heep’s “Stealin”], with a bit of a blues feel that builds up into the coolest guitar solo on this album. Travelin’ Man would be covered by Swiss band Gotthard years later . The ballad “Looking At You” was another single; still plenty of guitar on this – Cobra being mainly a 2 guitar band, with one guitarist subbing on keyboards occasionally. I’ve seen the band classed as Heavy metal, close but not quite, definitely much harder than anything Jamison did beyond this album. The album though doesn’t include any filler with a number of good pop rockers, most of which would’ve made fine singles, such as “What Love Is”, “Danger Zone”, and “Fallen Angel”. First Strike was produced by Tom Allom, who’d produced and /or engineered plenty of heavier bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, the first Def Leppard album, Krokus [also in ’83], as well as American 80s rock acts like Y&T and Rough Cutt.
The album didn’t seem to get the support from Epic it should have, with no major tour opening slots at the time. Meyer [Canadian born, but then from Switzerland], along with Swiss bass player Tommy Keiser took both left for Christmas that year, and never returned, leaving other members to ponder what to do. Before long though Meyer would join Asia for their “Astra” album, and Jimi Jamison would replace Dave Bickler in established US AOR band Surivor. Meyer would later join Gotthard [where they would cover Cobra’s “Looking At You”, and rejoin Krokus. Jeff Klaven [drums] and Keiser would also join Krokus for a while. Guitarist & keyboard player Jack Holder went on to work as a producer and sideman to many local and national acts in Memphis [including Tracey Chapman and Travis Tritt]. Van Zant [feat John Van Zant, pre Lynyrd Skynyrd] had a hit [and video] in 1985 with Cobra’s “I’m A Fighter”, a song written but not recorded by Cobra [for a 2nd album]. After hearing “First Strike”, I got to wonder how much of a step down – musically, was Survivor for Jamison[!?]
Following years fronting Survivor, where the band had numerous hit singles [plenty of ballads], Jamison would have a successful solo career. Sadly, Jimi Jamison passed away at home, September 1, 2014, at home in Memphis, Tennessee, following a performance. Following Jamison’s passing, the other 4 members of Cobra reunited for a tribute to Jimi Jamison show. Jack Holder passed away on January 17 of 2015. In October of 2015 the 3 remaining former members of Cobra reunited for a tribute show in Memphis. “First Strike” was reissued on CD by Rock Candy in 2009, along with plenty of liner notes, pics, and insight from Sullivan and Tommy Keiser. RIP Jimi Jamison and Jack Holder.
*I mentioned there being 3 singles from First Strike – these were what I’ve seen listed in reference pages, but I’ve never actually seen one, nor are any listed at Discogs.com . If anyone has a Cobra single [7″], please drop me a line or send me a pic. thanks
KJJ . 04/20
2 thoughts on “Cobra -First Strike : Classic ’80s Rock”
Personally, I feel your comment referring to Survivor as a step down for Jimi is insulting to his memory, to Survivor, etc. It was a sideways step and a step towards stardom whether he wanted that or not.
It is not intended to be insulting, no need to take it personally. I do think Jamison was the best thing about Survivor, and one of the best HR/aor singers of the late 70s-80s. The Cobra album [and Target] showed him as a great harder rock singer as well. It would’ve been interesting to have heard him in Deep Purple [had he taken up that offer].