Smith & Kotzen / A pair with a glaringly infectious chemistry

It is fair to assume that Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen are not setting out for world domination with their new collaboration. So with a probable carefree attitude, where better to record their debut album than smack bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on one of the paradisiac Turks And Caicos Islands.

Smith/Kotzen – Smith/Kotzen (BMG)

Release Date: 26 March 2021

Words: Brian Boyle

With holiday pics of the pair being posted on social media and then a teaser snap of Smith’s green Jackson and Kotzen’s trademark Telecaster, the big announcement of the project lost most of its mystique along the way.

Nevertheless their respective passion for Classic and Blues Rock has brought about an intriguing looking union, one not seen since David Coverdale and Jimmy Page crossed ego’s in 1993.

Right from the off the chemistry between the pair is glaringly infectious with the big brawny tones of ‘Taking My Chances’ vigorously lighting the albums touch paper.

Photo of the album Smith/Kotzen by Guitarists Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen

While you can label this as a Classic Rock album, they are by no means trying to recreate the past. Second tune in, ‘Running’, would be at home comfortably in any decade of Rock going back fifty years, but it still boasts a hefty modern melodic chorus giving it a striking balance.

While such a direction would be near enough par for the course for the more mainstream minded Kotzen, having completed tenures in Poison, Mr Big and still fronting The Winery Dogs, a few may be surprised at what Smith brings to the table given his Metal branding with Iron Maiden and his abrasive sounding solo projects Psycho Motel and Primal Rock Rebellion.

On ‘Scars’ his obvious love of the Blues flows naturally, with some gripping guitar exchanges with Kotzen and his vocal performance will without doubt raise a few eyebrows.

The Blues fest continues with the very instinctive sounding ‘Some People’ which also packs a soulful punch for good measure.

The South rises with Skynyrd leanings on ‘Glory Road’, and although it was recorded in a vicinity of exotic cocktails, blue skies and sandy beaches, it may set a much more sombre image in your mind.

Smith did not totally leave his Maiden association behind, as their now regular producer Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley handles mixing duties, but overwhelmingly outdoing that is the appearance of Nicko McBrain on the groove laden ‘Solar Fire’, evoking memories of his stint as drummer in the Pat Travers Band.

With two heavyweight guitarists locked and loaded with an arsenal of head spinning virtuosity, some may reckon this collaboration may just be an exercise in displaying respective six string ploomage.

But not for a single chord does it give off a scent of fretboards at dawn.

A prime example of this is the sweet exchange of solos intertwining magically on the smokey 80’s type ballad ‘You Don’t Know Me’, the slickly polished ‘I Wanna Stay’ and the titanic finale on ”Til Tomorrow’.

If schedules allow, it would a sight to behold to witness these immaculate compositions in a live setting. But for now sit back and enjoy a collection of tunes that inject new life into the New Wave Of Classic Rock.

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25mar9:00 pmSmith/Kotzen YouTube album premiere

Smith/Kotzen Tracklist :

Taking My Chances
Some People
Glory Road
Solar Fire
You Don’t Know Me
I Wanna Stay
Til Tomorrow

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