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
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.
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