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Even if you don't necessarily like all of his music, it's a pretty fair bet you've heard of Richie Kotzen at some point over the last twenty five years. He's been a member of, and released, albums with Poison, Mr. Big and, most recently, The Winery Dogs, has collaborated with some of the best musicians around and 2015 will see him release his 20th solo album. That's not bad going for someone who's still only 44 is it? 'The Essential Richie Kotzen' is a 2CD+DVD set (I only have the two audio CDs to review unfortunately), put together by the man himself to introduce new listeners to his body of work. It contains two brand new songs, a collection of tracks from his solo albums, some re-recorded songs, acoustic versions and two demos of tracks that ended up on 'The Winery Dogs' album.

Hopefully, what you'll already know, is that Kotzen is a quite fabulous guitarist. You don't get discovered by Mike Varney and go on to play with the likes of Billy Sheehan, Glenn Hughes, Stevie Salas, Stanley Clarke, Gregg Bissonette and Mike Portnoy, amongst many others, unless you've got seriously good talent! What you may not know, though, is what a great vocalist he is. I suspect many, not familiar with his solo albums, got to appreciate that for the first time with The Winery Dogs but there is a whole lot more to Richie Kotzen's playing and singing than just that band. As a solo artist Kotzen brings influences to the fore that you won't hear elsewhere. His music is a beautifully laidback combination of classic rock, soul, fusion & some funk. If I had a veranda and the weather wasn't starting to get a bit colder in the evenings, I'd be outside with a bottle of malt, feet up, and chilling out totally to this. Don't get me wrong, it certainly rocks in all the right places, it's just a lot less full-on than much of the thrash, symphonic and melodic death metal I've been reviewing in recent weeks! It's quite reminiscent of several Glenn Hughes solo albums in places and that's not a bad comparison as far as these ears are concerned.

CD2 is even quieter, containing mainly reworked and acoustic tracks, but it's no less enjoyable. As already mentioned, I do not have the DVD to comment on but it certainly adds good value because, according to the running order which I have been sent, only two of the songs present on that, also appear on the CDs and one of those is a new track. As an introduction to Richie Kotzen, this cannot really be faulted but it should also appeal to long-time fans due to the inclusion of the two new songs and different versions of others. Either way, you will not be able to ignore the very underrated talent of this guitarist and singer.
Double Album
Review by Rick Tilley
60:23 & 37:40
8th Sept 2014
DISC ONE: 1) War Paint; 2) Walk With Me; 3) Love Is Blind; 4) Go Faster; 5) Fooled Again; 6) OMG (What's your Name?); 7) Help Me; 8) Bad Situation; 9) Lie To Me; 10) Fear; 11 You Can't Save Me; 12) Doing What The Devil Says To Do; 13) Remember (Reprise)

DISC TWO: 1) What is; 2) High; 3) Change; 4) Special; 5) Paint It On (Acoustic); 6) Holding On (Acoustic); 7) Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice) (Acoustic); 8) The Road (Acoustic); 9) Regret (Original Demo Version); 10) Damaged
"As an introduction to Richie Kotzen, this cannot really be faulted..."