After writing his fishing based memoirs Monsters of River and Rock last year, Iron Maiden axe man Adrian Smith teamed up with Winery Dogs, Poison and Mr Big guitarist Richie Kotzen to make Smith/Kotzen. Despite their differing C.V.s both are friends whose shared love of 1970s rock acts like Bad Company, Deep Purple and Free shapes the record.
Blues influenced hard rock with plenty of solos is the name of the game – the latter was to be expected given the people involved. The riffy behemoth ‘Taking My Chances’ with its catchy chorus is a good statement of intent. The straight between the eyes guitar attack is continued with ‘Running’, which sports melodies primed and ready for rock radio.
Smith and Kotzen share bass, production and vocals duties on the album, with Smith’s husky, soulful tones a good foil for Kotzen’s Glenn Hughes like power. This is especially so on ‘Glory Road’, a soulful tune with a sumptuous hook and a Gov’t Mule feel to it. Drummer Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden fame helps out on ‘Solar Flare’, a fiery number with a tasty southern rock like riff. Nothing here is surprising, but they know what they like and they have done it well. There are a few misses towards the albums end though – the sombre and overly long ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and the de rigueur bluesy ballad ‘I Wanna Stay’.
Overall Smith/Kotzen is a classy album of lovingly made classic rock that will please fans of The Dead Daisies and The Winery Dogs.