Richie Kotzen – 50 For 50 – A First Reaction and a chat

The Full Interview

Richie Kotzen just turned 50 and celebrated the milestone by releasing a mammoth 50 song album called 50 For 50, featuring 50 new tracks on  3 CDs. Notice a theme?

My initial thought upon hearing about this album was, “There must be a bunch of short little filler songs. No way could he write, record and produce 50 songs since his last release in 2017 (Salting Earth).”

Not so. This is the real deal.

As if this wasn’t impressive enough, Richie is also the only musician on the album.

I’m stoked for this one.  HERE WE GO!


(If this is your first time visiting Let’s Rock, we do album reviews a little differently than other sites.  We keep it light and fun. I hang out with the family dog, Gizmo, and listen to the album straight through, typing comments as I go. Unfortunately, Gizmo had better places to sleep on this night, so she couldn’t join me. It’s a first reaction to the album.  For me, as a music fan, there’s nothing better than a first listen to an album I’ve been dying to hear.)

Song By Song

Stick The Knife

The first 10 seconds of this album is a perfect example of what makes RK such an amazing talent.  A speedy little run with feeling to burn. That’s always impressed me about his playing…the feel. Goosebump inducing. And then the voice…so much soul. Nice little acoustic breakdown after the second chorus.  Sweet.  I’m sensing a ripper of a solo coming up. Yep. Wow. He’s flawless. What a great track to kick it off.  I especially liked the gospel type feel before and after the solo.

As You Are

It’s so hard to categorize RK music. It’s heavy, but not heavy, if that makes sense. As You Are is a pretty straight ahead rocker, but it’s so soulful. His voice is so powerful it just carries every song. A couple great solos in this track. Great ending. I’m beyond impressed. This dude rules.

Dogs

Bluesy intro with some very fluid guitar lines. Caught his show at the Brass Monkey in Ottawa a couple years ago and this song would have fit in perfectly to that set. It’s been said countless times, but it’s nice to see a guitar hero who doesn’t just rely on instrumental fret burning. I love instrumentals as much as the next guy, but with a voice like this, it would be a sin if he just focused on the guitar.  Nice solo. Oh, it’s over.  That one slipped by quickly. It was a nice change in pace from the first two.  So many different styles. 

More Than This

Piano intro withan Interesting vibe. His harmonies with himself are spot on. This has a pop kind of feel to it. Why isn’t this guy playing arenas? There is something for everyone on all of his albums. Solo coming soon? Nope. No solo on this track, which is cool.

Nickel Tricks

Talk box. Horns. What the hell is going on with this album? It’s all over the place style wise and I love it. Trumpet solo with talk box underneath. This is mind blowing. That was fucking amazing. Holy crap, this is good.

Nickel Hustler

Dirty is a perfect word for the intro to this one. Yeah, baby. This is so bluesy. Aggressive vocals are the key to Dirty Hustler. There seems to be so much happening in every song. It’ll be interesting to see how he pulls it off live. Speaking of live, I’m a little bummed he’s not coming to Ottawa again. How can I describe this? It’s got elements of blues, soul, funk, R and B, and a rippin’ solo. In other words, it’s Richie Kotzen.

Devil’s Hand

Ballad. Very nice. Very nice. I’m not a big ballad guy, but this is nice. It’s all about the voice. It’s so emotional. Slide solo. Very nice. Tasty start to solo #2. Holy crap. Kind of a Wish You Were Here feel to the solo with RK singing along to the guitar line. This is one of the greatest guitar solos I’ve ever heard. Good Lord. Teach me your ways, Master. It just keeps going and going. Holy shit. Only one word for the ending of this song…WOW.

Mad Bazaar

Another piano intro. I was really impressed with his show in Ottawa when he did a couple songs on piano, with no guitar. He’s so much more than a guitar hero. I realize I’m raving about this a little too much, but it’s honestly that good. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but this is special. Mad Bazaar is short and sweet.  Very sweet.

Turning The Table

I’m guessing by the length of this song, it’s gonna have some guitar pyrotechniques. ‘I’m tired of hearing your shit, you two-faced dirty bitch’. I’m not good with lyrics, but that’s what I heard on this one. A bit of James Brown style with the vocals. He sounds a little angry on this one, until he hits the chorus. Here we go. Solo time. Go, Richie, Go. That was fun. I think this guy might have a future in this business. The solo is amazing, but more importantly, it just fits the song so well. Love it.

Already Scarred

Nice song. Not my favourite, but it’s definitely a well written song.  It didn’t quite hit me the way the others did.

Black Mark

‘Black mark on my soul again’. Black mark is cool. It’s pretty straight forward, but, wait …what did he say….”Seeing you all the time with that stupid fucking guy, motherfucker, I want to see him dead.” Did I hear that right? That’s pretty dark. I like it. That is a fun little outro solo. Cool tune.

Living The Dream

Ooh, kind of a funky little intro. I’m running out of adjectives.  How about badass? It’s just a great record. Cool breakdown into a solo. It’s very fuzzy and low. Nice. It’s 1:15 AM and I have to work at 7, but I can’t stop listening. RK rockin’ a monster solo to end this bad boy. That bend must have broken a string. Awesome stuff.

When God Made You

Wah Wah. Always a great way to kick off a tune. Nice riff. I need to practice more. I’m feeling very inspired. SO MUCH HAPPENING! Some songs, you can just tell there’s gonna be a sweet solo.  It should be coming up soon. This is a great tune. Here’s the solo. Damn. Not sure if I should practice or just burn my guitars. Wonderful song.

Wait For Me

I would love to know what inspires his writing. It’s so funky and then he just rips off a hard rock riff. Then it’s right back into the funk. Another great solo and back into the chorus. oooh, great ending. Cool tune.

Life Gonna Give It To Ya

Judging from the intro, this one has ‘guitar extravaganza’ written all over it. He has so many subtle little guitar parts that are almost hidden. Solo 1 (I’m guessing). That’s how you do it. Well done, sir. Solo 2. A little wah never hurt anyone. Again, short, but stellar (Trying to find new adjectives). “Hold on for your fucking life”. Woah, the vocals at the end are aggressive, powerful and in your face. This is one of my favs. MUST. PLAY. THIS. ONE. LIVE.

Innocuous

Classical guitar intro. This is kind of haunting. I like it. Just classical guitar and voice so far. Great range on his vocals. What a great way to end the first CD. Beautiful.

There’s just no doubt about it. I could go on and on trying to wrap this First Reaction up, but really all that needs to be said is that Richie Kotzen is a musical genius. I haven’t heard discs 2 and 3, but if they’re half as good as disc 1, they will still be masterpieces.

This is an album for the ages. Richie Kotzen is a master of all styles of music and while there are many incredible guitarists in the world, few can match him when it comes to songwriting and emotion.

Gizmo has no idea what she missed.

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Visit Richie Kotzen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Apple Music, Spotify and his Official Website

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