The unlikely duo of Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden and Richie Kotzen of Mr Big, Winery Dogs have joined forces for their latest offering in the form of a Smith/Kotzen collaboration and are unleashing a nine-track beauty this coming Friday 26th of March in “Taking My Chances”.
Before hearing this album or any of its singles you would be hard pushed to imagine what a collaboration between these two musical giants could sound like, more so Adrian Smith’s career to date with Maiden has been very much an established style so a deviation such as this raised more than a few eyebrows fo shizzle! Not only does Smith share six-string duties but also vocals across the album too, The duo have also brought in the infamous Kevin Shirley who has worked with everyone from Led Zeppelin to Aerosmith and more recently has a well established long time relationship with Bluesman Joe Bonamassa which ties in nicely with these two axemen’s requirements.
Right from the off you know you are in for a treat, with the albums opener and title track you are enveloped in a world of guitar wizardry fused with hard-hitting riffage and easy on the ear melodies. Followed up by ‘Running’ one of the singles taken from the album you get a better taste of the angst tied up in those frustrated fingers, being restrained during 2020 you are treated to an onslaught of blistering solo work on this track that takes the breath away. ‘Scars’ offers a darker more emotive vibe, bluesy at its roots but hefty sounding enough to shake the fillings in your teeth. The vocals carry a Glenn Hughes like quality with piercing highs and range that are seriously impressive, I would say that this collaboration will bring in an army of new fans for both artists respectively. Kotzen has long time been admired as one of the best six-string slingers out there and Smith carries substantial credit in the Metal world for sure and for many who will stumble into the Smith/Kotzen world will no doubt be taken aback at the musical direction and style of the album.
It’s a great album, from start to finish it is packed with all the quality you would expect from two sublime musicians, dripping in melodic richness throughout you’ll be hard pushed to pick out a weak track on this album and for anyone who is unfamiliar with either artist as a solo entity, you may struggle to figure out without watching a video or seeing them live who is playing what with the interchanging solo work on tracks like ‘Glory Road’ for example. Only the die-hard’s will know.
A truly fine recording, and an unexpected beauty coming out of 2020 to ease us into 2021 and hopefully the light at the end of a tunnel and potentially the odd live gig somewhere down the line and hopefully the start of a beautiful relationship.
Smith/Kotzen’s “Taking My Chances” is out this Friday, March 26th Via BMG.