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Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen – classic rock chemistry at its very best

In its short existence thus far, the Adrian Smith / Richie Kotzen union has been such a success that even the men in question are probably taken aback by it. But as their stunning self-titled debut album tells you, this is no fluke. What began solely as friendship has morphed into a mouthwatering musical partnership which has breathed new blood into the Classic Rock genre.

Smith / Kotzen – Better Days… And Nights (BMG)

Release Date: 16 September 2022

Words: Brian Boyle

Better Days…..And Nights is their latest offering and consists of last year’s EP Better Days and five live tracks that were recorded on their tour of the US and UK earlier this year.

Adrian Smith / Richie Kotzen - Better Days… And Nights (BMG)
Smith Kotzen Better Days And Nights BMG

And if you’ve been lucky enough to have attended any of the shows, you’ll know the avalanche of rave reviews were bang on the money. And as their illustrious careers have shown us, live is where these guys really come to life.

The Better Days EP is a nice addition if you missed out on the limited edition vinyl, but after you hear the concert recordings, you will most likely wish this was a fully stocked live affair instead of five teasers.

But as they say, small is beautiful, and this little ensemble of tuneage is delectable. Right from the crisp tones of Hate And Love, the natural chemistry between the pair is palpable, with their contrasting voices intertwining perfectly.

A song about the perils of alcohol to which Smith reassures the crowd to “enjoy their beer”, Got A Hold Of Me bares its massive kahunas with two breakneck guitar performances that would make your eyeballs spin.

Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
SmithKotzen Islington Assembly Hall Photo Robert SuttonMetalTalk

Although this collaboration is pretty much all about Messrs Smith and Kotzen, the engine room of bassist and Kotzen’s good lady Julia Lage plus tub thumper Bruno Valverde provide a robust platform for the front of house to do their thing.

As live versions of blues rock ballads go, Gary Moore’s hair-raising Still Got The Blues takes some beating, but eclipsing its fulsome studio version, Scars takes on a new skin with colossal soul-baring deliveries from both artists, leaving absolutely nothing in the locker.

Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
SmithKotzen Islington Assembly Hall Photo Robert SuttonMetalTalk

Clocking in at nearly ten minutes, the word epic is underplaying the magic that’s created on You Don’t Know Me. After a gutsy slice of ’80s rock balladry, S&K take it to a different level with a pair of guitar solos that will require you to lie back and smoke a ciggy after.

One of the debut album’s flagship songs, the cruising Running was one of the tunes you knew would flourish in a concert situation, and this banging version doesn’t make you think any different.

Better Days….And Nights is classic rock chemistry at its very best.

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