Album review: Smith/Kotzen – Smith/Kotzen

Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith teams up with Winery Dogs’ Richie Kotzen for a riffy knockabout…

When he’s not busy with Iron Maiden, Adrian Smith gets busy fishing. When he’s not doing that, he occasionally likes to make records with other people. Almost a decade ago, he unexpectedly teamed up with SikTh frontman Mikee Goodman in Primal Rock Rebellion and released their Awoken Broken album. If you squinted, you could tell it was him riffing away under Mikee’s wild vocals, but it’s true to say that the heavier, more extreme sounds the pair had cooked up were clearly too rich for his day job’s blood. This pairing with The Winery Dogs/Mr Big/one-time Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen isn’t quite as much of a departure, but it’s still a different kettle of fish than Maiden.

It’s more blues-rooted for one thing. Glory Road and Solar Fire have a rhythmic, bar-room stomp that calls to mind The Black Crowes or 80s ZZ Top, decidedly slick, bit still loose, groovy and not overly concerned with fuss. Elsewhere, like the intro to You Don’t Know Me or Running, there’s also the slightest of nods to Springsteen’s blue-collar strumming and Bryan Adams’ radio rock breeziness. And then, of course, there’s loads of solos, which is largely the point of the whole exercise.

As a showcase of two guitarists jamming and having a laugh together, you could do a lot worse than this. True, some of it could be slotted onto the soundtrack of an 80s Chevy Chase movie and it’d be right at home, but the rest of it is big in riff, stompy in thrust, and for guitar aficionados, a lot to get your teeth into.

Verdict: 3/5

For Fans Of: The Black Crowes, Aerosmith, ZZ Top

Smith/Kotzen is released on March 26 via BMG.

READ THIS: Iron Maiden: Every album ranked from worst to best

Posted on March 24th 2021, 5:07p.m.
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