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Smith/Kotzen|Smith/Kotzen

Smith/Kotzen

Smith/Kotzen, Adrian Smith, Richie Kotzen

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What do you get when you combine half of Iron Maiden's legendary dual-guitar assault and one of the most highly regarded "shred" guitarists who also happened to once be part of Mr. Big and Poison? You get an album that sounds absolutely nothing like any of those bands. Instead, the debut collaboration from these two longtime friends veers immediately into comfort rock territory—leaning heavily on melodic, sorta-bluesy, sorta-crunchy structures that are clearly straight from the "most-played" section of their personal record collections. Evoking both classic '70s hard rock in the UFO/Thin Lizzy vein and—somewhat surprisingly—early '90s rock (Kotzen's voice is occasionally a dead ringer for Chris Cornell's), the nine tracks are both breezy and burly. While "Solar Fire" may evoke the jazzy, semi-prog vibe of early '70s Manfred Mann with its title, in execution, the track is a gutsy barnburner, thanks to the fiery drumwork of Maiden's Nicko McBrain who guests here. Meanwhile, the big chorus of "Taking My Chances" feels like it wouldn't have been out of place on a 1991 edition of Headbangers Ball. On these and other tracks, like the dynamic "Scars", Smith and Kotzen are going with what they know, and swinging for the fences with glee. While (thankfully) it never devolves into the sort of gunslinging guitar duels that one would expect from such a team-up, both players get plenty of space to show off (tastefully) with excellent, melodic, and decidedly unflashy solos throughout. Smith and Kotzen clearly enjoyed making this album, and it probably didn't hurt that they recorded it on the Turks and Caicos Islands the month before the pandemic hit. The joy they got from writing, playing, and recording this material is apparent—even though they're probably not gonna win any innovation medals for it. And yeah, in 2021, there's not much of a place for straightforward, swaggering rock records from gentlemen on the other side of 50, but that doesn't diminish the simple pleasures that a record like this can bring. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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Smith/Kotzen

Smith/Kotzen

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1
Taking My Chances
00:04:46

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

2
Running
00:04:19

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

3
Scars
00:06:18

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

4
Some People
00:04:22

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

5
Glory Road
00:04:54

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

6
Solar Fire
00:04:29

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

7
You Don't Know Me
00:07:14

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

8
I Wanna Stay
00:05:13

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

9
'Til Tomorrow
00:05:39

Richie Kotzen, Composer, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Ryan Smith, Engineer - Kevin Shirley, Engineer - Adrian Smith, Composer, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Smith/Kotzen, MainArtist

© 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited ℗ 2021 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

Album Description

What do you get when you combine half of Iron Maiden's legendary dual-guitar assault and one of the most highly regarded "shred" guitarists who also happened to once be part of Mr. Big and Poison? You get an album that sounds absolutely nothing like any of those bands. Instead, the debut collaboration from these two longtime friends veers immediately into comfort rock territory—leaning heavily on melodic, sorta-bluesy, sorta-crunchy structures that are clearly straight from the "most-played" section of their personal record collections. Evoking both classic '70s hard rock in the UFO/Thin Lizzy vein and—somewhat surprisingly—early '90s rock (Kotzen's voice is occasionally a dead ringer for Chris Cornell's), the nine tracks are both breezy and burly. While "Solar Fire" may evoke the jazzy, semi-prog vibe of early '70s Manfred Mann with its title, in execution, the track is a gutsy barnburner, thanks to the fiery drumwork of Maiden's Nicko McBrain who guests here. Meanwhile, the big chorus of "Taking My Chances" feels like it wouldn't have been out of place on a 1991 edition of Headbangers Ball. On these and other tracks, like the dynamic "Scars", Smith and Kotzen are going with what they know, and swinging for the fences with glee. While (thankfully) it never devolves into the sort of gunslinging guitar duels that one would expect from such a team-up, both players get plenty of space to show off (tastefully) with excellent, melodic, and decidedly unflashy solos throughout. Smith and Kotzen clearly enjoyed making this album, and it probably didn't hurt that they recorded it on the Turks and Caicos Islands the month before the pandemic hit. The joy they got from writing, playing, and recording this material is apparent—even though they're probably not gonna win any innovation medals for it. And yeah, in 2021, there's not much of a place for straightforward, swaggering rock records from gentlemen on the other side of 50, but that doesn't diminish the simple pleasures that a record like this can bring. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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