This is a 3CD set that's comprised of three Richie Kotzen album reissues from his late 90s solo output, namely 1997’s ‘Something to Say’, 1998’s ‘What Is’ and 1999’s ‘Break it All Down’. Each disc has three bonus tracks, all taken from 1996’s ‘Wave of Emotion’ so, effectively, this set houses almost four full albums, just shy of two tracks from said 1996 release... kind of an inexplicable omission.
A prolific musician, Kotzen’s back catalogue is now quite extensive, with 20+ albums released under his own name, as well as countless collaborations with others; albums from his brief tenures as a member of both Poison and Mr. Big; plus his recorded output fronting The Winery Dogs alongside fellow virtuosos Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy. So, ‘Telecasters & Stratocasters: Klassic Kotzen’ is but a small dip into the sonic diachrony of this widely lauded guitarist/singer/songwriter. But, it’s a worthy and rewarding dip, if not a wholly representative, all-encompassing one.
With rock as his foundation, Kotzen is also renowned for his mixed-genre approach that has seen him incorporate elements of blues, jazz fusion, funk, pop, soul and R&B within his music, over the years. While the albums represented in this set are undeniably rock-centric, his stylistic divergences rear their head throughout, across his accomplished sense of songwriting, and some truly great performances. The man has a great voice but, for me, it’s his fretboard work that has the genuine wow factor. His playing shines in each and every solo spot. So much so, that he speaks emotionally more through his instrument than any use of vocals/lyrics. This is the true strength of the material on ‘Telecasters & Stratocasters’.
While this set has been billed in press blurb as being “an unmissable collection of some of his finest moments”, and there are many fine moments across the discs, it would need a far wider ranging set to truly encompass some of Kotzen’s “finest moments”. A “best of” release would, perhaps, be a better starting point for newcomers - earMUSIC’s excellent 2014 ‘The Essential Richie Kotzen’ 2CD collection would satisfy such a need. However, this is still a fine release, chock-full of the man’s fine, late-90s, musical chops.
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TELECASTERS & STRATOCASTERS: KLASSIC KOTZEN
Review by Mark Holmes
23rd Feb 2018
DISC ONE: 'Break It All Down' album + 3 bonus tracks
DISC TWO: 'Something to Say' album + 3 bonus tracks
DISC THREE: 'What Is' album + 3 bonus tracks
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a small dip into the sonic diachrony of this widely lauded guitarist/singer/songwriter. But, it’s a worthy and rewarding dip, if not a wholly representative, all-encompassing one."