Kotzen, Richie - 2003 Change

ARTIST: Kotzen, Richie
ALBUM: Change
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2003

LINEUP: Richie Kotzen - all instruments and vocals, except drums on track 6 by Pat Torpey, additional vocals on track 10 by Charlie Sarti

TRACK LISTING: Forever One * 02 Get A Life * 03 Change * 04 Don't Ask * 05 Deeper (Into You) * 06 High * 07 Am I Dreamin' * 08 Shine (Acoustic) * 09 Good For Me * 10 Fast Money, Fast Cars * 11 Unity (Jazz Bee Bop Instrumental)


While I admire the fact that Richie Kotzen has obvious talents, his ability to release albums in different musical styles ('Electric Joy' - widdly instrumentals, 'Fever Dream' - retro rock, 'Bi-Polar Blues' - the blues, and so on) has often frustrated me. That's hypocritical really, as I've often said the same about David Bowie for the exact same thing.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that Kotzen has recorded albums in the past which I've enjoyed and some which I haven't. It seems for his 2003 release 'Change', he's decided to take previously investigated musical genres and squeeze them into one album.

The initial feeling I got from the album, due to it's overall variety, is that it lacks direction. It definitely doesn't 'flow'. Despite that, as a selection of individual pieces, it makes for great listening, as it seems like a collection of tracks rather than an album. Here's an overview of each of the songs as an alternative to a structured review.

The Songs

Forever One: I'm surprised. This is the heaviest Kotzen's sounded for a while. If you like groovy monster riffs, this is for you. An ever bigger surprise is the chorus, which despite the hard rock tendencies of the song, the vocals are straight from the Billy Sherwood school of melody but without the helium balloon. Throw in one of Richie's scary-ass solos and the album's off to a good start.

Get A Life: The rocky edge is carried over from the opening track, but things are more rooted in the melodic field. Match that with a killer chorus and it's a (fever) dream for Kotzen fans.

Change: A change in tack for the title cut, as Richie pulls out his acoustic guitar. An altogether more reflective sound to match the more reflective lyrical content. Another of those radio-friendly songs, which thanks to the magic of red tape and playlist restrictions, will probably never be heard across the world's airwaves.

Don't Ask: Back into a melodic rock groove similar to 'Get A Life'. Nothing outstanding. It has another big chorus (Richie seems to be in rather fine voice this time out) and some nice guitar flourishes during the verses.

Deeper Into You: I was waiting for this to happen. Here, Kotzen returns to the soulful sound he explored on the 'Something To Say' and 'What Is'. While this is well put together, the mechanical feel of the drum track meets me with indifference. Again, a great vocal performance, though.

High: Another slower number, this time with some groovy guitar runs, and then the chorus kicks in and it's a real beauty. Most of my feelings here are reflected about the title track. It's another song which deserves to be heard by the masses, but instead will probably have to settle for being heard by the lucky few. This song is reprised as an acoustic reworking, at the end of the European version of the album.

Shine (acoustic): This is a surprise (and welcome) addition to an already solid album. It should already be familiar to some of you, as it's a song Richie wrote during his tenure with Mr. Big. Originally from their 'Actual Size' album, it had been a hit for the band in some territories. This new acoustic version works well and, more importantly, even avoids sounding like filler material.

Good For Me: Time to kick back with another soulful groove. It's not quite the Black Crowes-meets-Hendrix-fest of Kotzen's 'Fever Dream' outing, but definitely has more guitar work than 'What Is'. Once again, a good opportunity to ask the all important question: where did he learn to sing like that?

Fast Money Fast Cars: The album's cuckoo in the nest. Kotzen trades in a previous suave soulfulness for full-on funk. Measured against the other songs here, this is definitely the weak link, especially when at just over seven minutes, it feels too long. Had Jeff Scott Soto recorded this, chances are it would have made complete sense. As a footnote - if this kind of funk shakes your tree, I suggest checking out the self-titled album by Dag.

Unity (Jazz Bee Bop Instrumental): Yup. The boy can play jazz too and this track does exactly what it says on the tin. While I appreciate the skills necessary to play this kind of thing, jazz is not really my bag, man. If you cats can dig it, that's groovy.

In Summary

There's something within 'Change' which should appeal to most Kotzen fans. It's definitely my favourite disc that Kotzen has released for a while.

All written content on this website belongs to GloryDazeMusic.com copyright. Duplication elsewhere on the Internet is strictly prohibited, unless specific permission is granted.

Sign In or Register to comment.