What does a musician give himself best as a birthday present? Richie Kotzen went for a new album on 3rd February 2020. And as the rock legend had his 50th birthday that day, the number of songs was as clear as the title: 50 for 50 covers 50 songs for this very special anniversary.
Richie Kotzen – About The Artist
Richie Kotzen, who was born in Reading, Pennslyvania, began to play guitar as he felt inspired by KISS. At the age of 19, Kotzen recorded his first (self-titled) solo album. His breakthrough was when he joined the glam-hard rock band Poison in 1991, with whom he also co-wrote two Top 20 singles. His time at Poison was just a few years, but when Paul Gilbert left Mr. Big, he took the opportunity and joined the band. He published albums with that band until 2002. Later, in 2013, he joined The Winery Dogs. The list of his musical creations is massive, the list of solo studio albums only has 20 entries.
Richie Kotzen – 50 for 50 – My Review
The 50 tracks are spread over three CDs. The overall playing time is 3:24 hours. As for other albums with extended playtime, I will not do a track by track review, but do the “classic” press style.
Already the first track of the first CD, Stick The Knife, gives some great rock sounds. Not too much of an uptempo song, as well as the next one, As You Are. The first song which I would call a potential radio hit is the fourth track, More Than This.
There is really a quite wide range of songs and sounds – for example Dirty Tricks fees to be quite experimental to me, Nickel Hustler travels back into 1970s rock music. Who would expect Devils Hand to be an acoustic guitar track, if you read its name?
While listening to Turning The Table, I thought about Sex Machine by James Brown. Another favorite song of mine on the first CD, though, is Mad Bazaar.
While listening to the second CD, I more and more wondered that I really do not get tired of the tunes created by Kotzen – maybe the biggest compliment you can to do the author of a 50-track album. The first track of that CD, Radar is already a good listen. I also loved to dive into the world of harder guitars, when I listened to the third song, Warrior:
To me, the CDs do not have a unique character or similar (maybe also because after a certain period of listening, you don’t know which track you are just listening to… Took a lot of notes). One song of the second CD, which I really enhoyed listening to was Last Laugh, which features some really nice riffs.
But there are also melodic tracks. So Fast is a nice ballad, and the final track of the second CD, I am the Crown, is one of my absolute favorites of this complilation.
Finally, the third one – 17 tracks remaining. 50 for 50 feels like a marathon – but as a superb-trained runner. You don’t get sweaty, you don’t get tired, you even feel a bit of sad when you take the curve to the final straight. Before that, the CD opens with three very nice tracks, Play The Field, Wide Open and Dark Places, which again illustrates Kotzen’s great talent on the guitar.
Another favorite of mine is track number 39, Edge of The Earth. A very catching song and melody. The only reason to quickly forget is that the song thereafter, Mountains, has some very soulful background voices and is just a fantastic track.
The last ten tracks have a couple of gems. I love She’s the man, which has a lot of blues on top of rock sounds, Hide from Me surprises with organ sounds and Let it slide just got the groove. Nevertheless, I want to finish my review with the very last song of 50 for 50, This House, which I feel to be very atmospheric and intense and a lovely finish of an impressive collection of songs.
Richie Kotzen – 50 for 50 – Spotify
Dare to spent some 3 1/2 hours with good rock music? Here is the Spotify widget:
Richie Kotzen – 50 for 50 – My View
I feel I gave the key message of my review already in the CD 2 section above: this album just does not get boring. It is fifty tracks, it is 205 minutes of your life – but this time just feels like a great investment, like a good movie with a good, but versatile plot. Richie Kotzen surprises you again and again with new sounds in this set of songs, which just deserves to receive the Top Pick! rating that much. Look forward to his 60th birthday… To his 70th… To his 80th? Great potential for more epic albums!
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