Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Richie Kotzen - 1991 "Electric Joy"

Electric Joy is the third studio album by guitarist Richie Kotzen, released in 1991 through Shrapnel Records.

"Electric Joy" was Richie Kotzen's third album for Shrapnel Records and documents his incredible growth as a musician. The album delivered a collection of original instrumental compositions rich in tasteful melodies and contemporary guitar techniques, that further cemented hs position in the music world as a guitarist's guitarist. For the first time, Kotzen was in the studio producing himself with complete creative control. Since he was preparing a vocal record for Interscope around the same time, he chose to make this an all instrumental record. Kotzen's favorite songs from "Electric Joy" are "Slow Blues" and "Electric Toy".

His debut album was a hit with the shredders, but three albums in, Kotzen had already delivered three completely different pieces of work.  Electric Joy has some of the playfulness of the debut, but is mostly a jaw-dropping collection of intricately composed pieces that skirt multiple genres including funk, country, bluegrass, jazz, fusion, and blues.  If I had to pick out an influence, I would say that Electric Joy sounds like Richie had been listening to a lot of the “two Steves”:  Vai and Morse.  His technique is top-notch.

“B Funk” opens the album with some light-speed bluegrass-y licks, but it keeps changing, from a funked up rocker with shredding, to a melodic “chorus” section.  Then it’s back to the bluegrass from space.
At this point I’ll point out that Kotzen plays all the instruments except drums, himself.  That’s Richie’s standby Atma Anur on drums.  What this means is, that incredibly dexterous bassline you’re hearing on “B Funk” is also performed by Kotzen!  And it’s almost every bit as stunning as the guitar!
“Electric Toy” begins ballady, with some lyrical Vai-like moments.  Of course, Kotzen can’t help but do what he does, so there are different sections, some at lickity-split tempos.  This is followed by “Shufina”, which is essentially a blues jam.  Kotzen’s deep bends are appropriate, but before too long he’s harmonizing with himself on some unconventional melodies.
A smoking hot riff ignites “Acid Lips”, little lightning licks flicker in and out, but this one has a solid groove.  (It can’t be easy grooving with yourself on bass.)  “Slow Blues” contains some of Richie’s most lyrical lead work.  If you can imagine the lead guitar taking on the role of a singer, then “Slow Blues” is probably the most accessible song on the album.
The next song “High Wire” is uncatagorizable, suffice to say that like all of Electric Joy it combines quirky notes with shreddery, funk and groove.  My favourite song is “Dr. Glee”.  It sounds like it seems it should – gleeful.  I find this pleasant melody to be very summery.  Kotzen guitar has so many different sounds and shades, even just within this one song.

“Hot Rails” is another one that sounds like advertized…a train racing down the track.  Kotzen’s slide work is anything but simple.  This one’s so fast it’s hard to keep track of all the cool different guitar parts.  It almost sounds like Kotzen wrote a blues shuffle, and then decided to hit fast forward on his tape deck and learn it at that speed!
Electric Joy closes with “The Deece Song”, which thankfully is mid-tempo allowing us to catch our collective breath.  It’s another great performance, similar in style to “Dr. Glee”.  It has its sweeping Satriani moments as well.

This one is by far the best Richie Kotzen instrumental album to date. The opener Shufina and the following song Electric Toy are enough to put this album in the wish list of every guitar lover. The entire album by the way is extremely consistent from its beginning to its end. The music is a sort of blues fusion type of thing. There are true songs, Richie doesn't show off here for the sake of. He plays his trademark legato licks with heart and mind and the music in the end is truly gratifying. There is only one song that I don't like which it happens to be the one before the last one. Too confused. But apart from this one, a perfect brilliant album. 

I'm a huge fan of technical music. I love Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, Shawn Lane, Steve Morse, etc. The problem with some of the shredders out there is the music is boring. Not so with this album. Richie sheds his previous neoclassical stylings for a bluesy funk fusion. His tone on here is superb, and the melodies are great. If you like high calibre guitar playing with good TASTE, buy this.

Recorded at Richie`s House and Prarie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA. This material was originally recorded on 1/4 inch 8 track and later transferred to 24 track for all drum overdubs and mix.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Richie Kotzen.

1.     "B Funk"       4:18
2.     "Electric Toy"       5:01
3.     "Shufina"       5:02
4.     "Acid Lips"       4:45
5.     "Slow Blues"       4:21
6.     "High Wire"       5:41
7.     "Dr. Glee"       4:11
8.     "Hot Rails"       3:34
9.     "The Deece Song"       5:12

Total length: 42:05

Richie Kotzen – guitar, bass, tubular bell, arrangement, engineering, mixing, production
Atma Anur – drums, percussion



  2. Non come il primo di G. Howe….ma comunque da avere!!