Review by Shayne McGowan
If you don’t know Ritchie Kotzen by now, pause what you’re doing, and go and rectify your mistake.
As a one time member of both Poison and Mr Big, Kotzen finally hit most rock fans radar, but he is first and foremost, a solo artist. Having amassed a back catalogue of over twenty solo studio albums - plus his work as the frontman of Winery Dogs, the man is absolutely prolific.
February 3rd of this year, marked Ritchies 50th birthday, so to celebrate, he has released his latest album, 50 For 50 - a triple album featuring, you guessed it... 50 tracks.
That’s right, 50 tracks!
But here’s the impressive part. 50 For 50 isn’t a “best of” compilation, and it’s not a collection of rare and unreleased b-sides. This is in fact, all brand new material - very impressive, considering his last release was a little over two years ago.
Even more impressive still, is the fact that Kotzen basically wrote, recorded, and played everything himself - guitars, drums, vocals, bass, keys and anything else you hear on this record - it’s virtually all him.
What you essentially get with this package, is three brand new Ritchie Kotzen albums. Each disc lives and breathes on its own, or you can spend the three hours and twenty five minutes required to hear it all in one sitting, just like I did (twice!)
Musically, the album(S) offer up a wide variety of sounds, from straight ahead rock, to blues, soul, r&b and funk (damn, there is some sublime bass playing on these tracks), and of course, there is plenty of Kotzens guitar wizardry on display.
Then there’s the voice. Yes, he is most notable for his guitar playing, but I would be doing a huge disservice if I didn’t mention what an exceptional vocalist he is. With a voice that is silky smooth, yet leathery at the same time. What an immense talent.
The other remarkable thing about 50 For 50, is that there is not a bad song among the whole bunch. More often than not, you could take a double album and create one better album out of the two (looking at you, Use Your Illusions). Not in this case. Although not every song is great, every song is certainly good - it’s actually mind blowing that I can’t consider any track to be “filler”.
I am not going to break this down into a track by track guide, that would take far too long, besides, this is the sort of music you should experience for yourself.