Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen – classic rock chemistry at its finest

In its short existence so far, the Adrian Smith/Richie Kotzen union has been such a success that even the men in question are probably taken aback. But as their superb eponymous debut album tells you, it’s no coincidence. What started as just a friendship blossomed into a tantalizing musical partnership that breathed new life into the Classic Rock genre.

Smith/Kotzen – Better Days… and Nights (BMG)

Release date: September 16, 2022

Lyrics: Brian Boyle

Better Days…..And Nights is their latest offering and consists of last year’s EP Better Days and five live tracks which were recorded during their US and UK tour earlier this year.

Smith/Kotzen – Better Days… and Nights (BMG)

And if you’ve been lucky enough to attend one of the shows, you’ll know that the avalanche of rave reviews paid off big time. And as their illustrious careers have shown us, live is where these guys really come to life.

The Better Days EP is a nice addition if you missed the limited edition vinyl, but after hearing the concert recordings you’ll probably wish it was a fully stocked live affair instead of five teasers.

But as they say, small is beautiful, and this small set of melodies is delightful. From the lively tones of Hate And Love, the natural chemistry between the two is palpable, with their contrasting voices intertwining perfectly.

A song about the dangers of alcohol on which Smith reassures the crowd to “enjoy their beer”, Got A Hold Of Me unleashes his massive kahunas with two jaw-dropping guitar performances that would make your eyes spin.

Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall.  Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

Although this collaboration concerns approximately MM. Smith and Kotzen, the engine room of bassist and good lady of Kotzen Julia Lage as well as tub drummer Bruno Valverde provide a sturdy platform for the front to do its job.

As live versions of the blues rock ballads go, Gary Moore’s hair-raising Still Got The Blues takes a few hits, but overshadowing its full studio version, Scars takes on a new lease of life with colossal bare-bones deliveries of the soul of the two artists, leaving absolutely nothing in the locker.

Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall.  Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
Smith/Kotzen, Islington Assembly Hall. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

In nearly ten minutes, the epic word understates the magic created on You Don’t Know Me. After a spunky slice of 80s rock ballad, S&K takes it to a different level with a pair of guitar solos that will compel you lie down and smoke a cigarette afterwards.

One of the standout songs from the debut album, cruising Running was one of the tracks you knew would bloom in a gig situation, and this hard-hitting version doesn’t make you think any differently.

Better Days….And Nights is classic rock chemistry at its finest.

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