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RICHIE KOTZEN Into The Black Frontiers (2006)

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen is best-known for brief stints with Poison and Mr Big, where his laid-back, soulful playing added a totally new dimension to their sounds, but he has also forged an extensive solo career both before and afterwards.

On his new release ‘Into the Black', he writes, plays and produces the whole thing himself. As my first experience of his solo albums I was struck both by the fact the focus is very much on the songs with the guitar tasteful but kept in check, and that it follows its own path rather than those trod by his previous bands.

It is still melodic, but with a contemporary feel - many of the songs having the laid-back flowing grooves of recent Red Hot Chili Peppers. Richie's own voice is warm and soulful, occasionally sounding like Audioslave's Chris Cornell, although Till You Put me Down is an uncanny replica of Glenn Hughes!.

The CD has a diverse mix of all-out rockers including the expletive-littered opener You can't save me and Sacred Ground, to the mellow, blues-influenced Doin' What the Devil says to Do and My Angel.

An album that is not easy to pigeonhole, but brings its rewards if you are open-minded enough to persist with it.


Review by Andy Nathan

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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