Richie Kotzen - Into The Black
Do you long for self-titled Richie's debut solo release recorded for Shrapnel Records in 1989? Do you feel a nostalgia? An american guitarist, hailing from Pennsylvania (USA), released that album with Stuart Hamm (bass guitar; Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) and Steve Smith (drums; Journey), but it was long time ago and many things changed to the present.
You can remind his name of the bands like Poison, Vertu and Mr. Big, so he isn't an anonymous musician at all. No guitar shows. No technically advanced parts. But only a respectable rock music backed up by a great experience and skills. Obviously, here are a few "economical" guitar solos, but it is a far cry from "Richie Kotzen" album. Much more important are soul and blues influences than showing the proficiency superiority over others. It is a light rock as regards instrumental, but razor-sharp at some fragments as regards lyrical. Since Richie is responsible for all instruments including his vocal cords, I'd like to mention that he sings with a moderate anger keeping distinct melodious lines.
This album isn't an evidence that Richie Kotzen ran out of steam after the debut. If you listened to his first solo CD, "Into The Black" can seem to be a confusing stuff and I am aware of it. I think that he simply topped off that chapter and moved to another musical area. Does it mean that Richie, converted to play an unsophisticated rock, can't be still considered a guitar virtuoso? Of course, it was a rhetorical question. I realize that some people can characterize "Into The Black" as the album with contemporary mainstream rock music, but I don't see any reason for writing Richie off. An artist should have a chance to present his new stuff to a wider group of listeners. On the other hand, there are many human beings who are convinced that virtuosic guitar music is out of fashion, but with such opinions they give voice to their ignorance on this subject matter, since virtuoso kinds of music have never been very popular (except for the eighties), and they have always been directed to the practised hearers who don't pay attention to trends which come and go with time. I respect both groups, because some of them are entitled to listen to the music that appeared on "Into The Black". We should identify with an artist's role and realize that he has also the right to jump ahead and try something new in music. Beyond all distinctness, we ought always to take two important things into consideration: a human free will should always go hand in hand with a freedom in music! Let the people listen to "Richie Kotzen" and "Into The Black" to everyone's joy and keep the harmony between them. Both groups can only take advantage of it, and it is probably the best solution, haha.
Lucas H Gordon
Hasta ahora, que voy empezando a escuchar el cd, me doy cuenta que de todos los que ya he escuchado de Kotzen, es el mas crudo y a mi gusto el mas disfrutable cd de toda su basta carrera como solista.
Justamente antes de empezar a escuchar el redondo, me preguntaba: “habiendo tocado en dos bandas que pertenecen al genero hard rock, porque no toca algo de eso, no digo todo, en sus discos solistas?”.
Bueno, me había adelantado y si bien no llega a ser un disco metálico completamente, “Into the black” se muestra mucho mas crudo, con una garra que lo pone mas cerca del hard rock que del rock que vino empleando en sus anteriores producciones.
Siempre dije que para que un lanzamiento pegue fuerte, el primer tema es el más importante, mantenerlo con más temas buenos es tan importante como el primer tema, pero esa canción de cabecera es la que te hace tenerle más paciencia al resto si es un disco no tan bueno o quererlo como un hijo.
Lo que vuelve a dejar bien constatado en cada tema como por ejemplo en “Hill you put me down” es que es un virtuoso de la guitarra con los espeluznantes solos de guitarra que se manda.
Curiosamente la camaleónica voz (que siempre la compare con la de Steve Windwood), al cantar mas agudo, la noto con cierta similitud con la de David Coverdale.
Kotzen sigue sacando buena música, y con “Into the black” a mi me voló la cabeza; meritorio que no solo se encargo de la guitarra y voz, sino que toco cada instrumento que suena en este cd. El hit “You can’t save me”. Gracias Richie.
Angel (Malaga Spain)
A Must have excellent record.
This is my song by song review of Into the Black after a few listens.
You Can´t Save Me
When Originally Richie shared this one on the Internet, I did not like it much... Now I see the song as a perfect opener to this (I would say) "sad" new cd from Richie Kotzen. Not sad effort at all, but the mood of the songs and the lyrics are in that direction. This is the kind of music that grows inside you each and everytime you listen to it, Great song, great vocals with a catchy chorus.
Another great song. This is a clasic Kotzen tune, with also a great chorus, and superb vocals. The verses are soft & slow in the mood of all the cd, then the chorus explode with violence, Nice guitar work also.
To me one of the Downs on the cd. Don´t like the falsettos at the begining, the verses are similar to Misunderstood, the chorus is not that bad, but all in all, this song has grown inside me and now I like it a lot, even I still don´t like the begining.
As someone said before, the begining of the chorus is similar to "Shine", again the verses are soft and slow but growing to an exhuberant chorus with nice vocal work by Richie. I think this could be the most comercial tune on the cd, is a catchy one.
Doin' What the Devil Says to Do
Another good tune. The verses here are top, also the chorus. In This is tune Richie makes an impresive interpretation of the lyrics in the whole song. One of my favourites, so far.
Till You Put Me Down
Oh my God what a song!! ...let me sing: "All that I´ve survived yet I can´t escape the pain.." My favourite so far, catchy chorus, hot guitar work, superb vocals, Tipically Kotzen. This only song worths the cd, I can´t imagine a single Kotzen fan not liking this one. Thumbs up Richie!!!
This song is slightly diferent to the rest of the record. The verses has a a tribal or military taste. Richie sings the bridge and chorus at very high notes, the effect is a little annoying, at least to my ears... although the melody is very good. I think Richie is not going to perform this song live, because of the vocals here are not real, I mean is a good studio tune, but I don´t see him (an nobody) able to sing this one live.
A filler for me It sounds to me like an unfinished demo. The guitar riff reminds me a lot to KISS, is the most rocker tune on the cd. What make this song better are the Richie vocals and guitar work. Not good, not bad at all.
Livin in Bliss
Not exactly a ballad, but an acoustic midtempo with a nice verses an chorus. Very good vocals by Richie that makes this a very nice tune to enjoy. The atmosphere of this tune is the more "optimist" on the whole cd.
Good song to end the cd. I love this one specially beacuse my name is Angel . Very nice soft Ballad. The feeling that Richie transmit on this one is amazing, the vocals are very impresive. Similar to Special from Get Up.
Price & Shipping: As most of the people say, the delivery of the cd is very fast... just 7 days from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. I think to pay 16,50 Euros for a completely new cd delivered right to your home is cheap, specially if it´s a RK one.
Packaging: The cd comes in a regular jewel case. Includes an booklet with all the lyrics and some photos of Richie, including one that my wife rate as a very sexy one. . The disc itself is completely black with the words RK and Into the Black printed in silver with a nice drawing. Beside the disc on the insert, is a distorted photo of Richie´s face with what seems to be handwritten lyrics by Richie himself. This is interesting because the letters written at my envelope are very similar... I wonder if Richie himself wrote them and sent the cd.
Conclusion: Now that I´ve listened to "Into the Black" several times, I know that this is a cd that will probably grows inside of all the fans. It´s not an easy one, the mood of most of the tunes is obscure, as are the lyrics, but as always the guitar & vocals performances by Richie are superb, and there are very good tunes on it. If you don´t have it so far, go for it now, support Richie.