RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Richie Kotzen - The Essential Richie Kotzen
Loud and Proud Records

Rating: B+

Richie Kotzen is one of those musical type dudes that everyone who listens to rock music should know about.  He should be a household name.  He plays a mean-ass guitar... he has amazing vocal chops and he has that damn cool rock and roll look, swagger and vibe about him. He even has his own signature Fender Telecaster. Yes, everyone should know him... but they don't. 

Even the grandest of rock nerds probably has no idea this guy has 18 solo albums.  Yes, I said 18... as in a BUNCH.  Hell, I didn't realize that until I read the press release.  That's a huge slab of music, and in this case, it’s good music.  Oh sure, he has fans... one of them is Eddie Trunk from That Metal Show.  Mr. Trunk was the man with the plan that put Kotzen in the band The Winery Dogs alongside Billy Sheehan, who he played with during a stint in Mr. Big.  See, you should know more about this guy... and now’s your chance, as he has just released The Essential Richie Kotzen on Loud and Proud Records. 

The Winery Dogs gig allowed Richie to garner a lot of press and put him out in front of a great band across America.  This was just what was needed to wake everyone up.  This guy can flat out sing and play, and he is one creative MoFo as well.  He even made an entire video on his cell phone for the song "Walk with Me." 

The Essential Richie Kotzen is a collection of his best solo material, but this release also includes two acoustic performances, as well as two new songs.  Fans can check out a stream of the entire album on VH1 Classic/MTV.com by clicking here:  http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2014-08-26/the-essential-richie-kotzens-stream or at www.guitarworld.com.  My bet is that once you hear how cool this cat is, you will buy the album. 

Kotzen understands that while he has had international success, he has flown under the radar in the USA.  His body of material is impressive, and Loud and Proud is excited to offer Kotzen the opportunity to get his music out to more people. 

Kotzen is the total package.  Some songs rock, but Richie is more than just a rocker.  He mixes soulful sounds and raw emotions into his songs.  For the guitar nuts out there, this guy will sing an emotional passage and follow it with a jaw dropping solo.  He is a multi-faceted rock and roll guitar player with a lot of class, and even more talent.

Kotzen sums it all up best in his press release for the album when he states,”I've really changed and grown as an artist and as a person," he says. "I hand-selected songs so newcomers can get into my music and learn who I am as a recording artist."

His fans understand where he's coming from, and will snap this one up as soon as they can.  Newcomers will be onboard as well, as Kotzen wins one over the old fashioned way... with his music.

By Jeb Wright