Richie Kotzen

Fever Dream

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Richie Kotzen put himself on the map in 1989 the way many of his Shrapnel Records/guitar shredding bretheren did -- he put out an all-instrumental album showcasing his unbelievable chops, and made a splash in the guitar community with lots of magazine interviews, clinics, and product endorsements. When it came time to produce a follow-up album, Kotzen decided to broaden his appeal by doing more pop-oriented vocal songs -- much like Joe Satriani was doing at the time. And, like Satriani, Kotzen opted to step up to the microphone himself, rather than hire a lead singer to do the job. The results on Fever Dream are enjoyable. Kotzen's vocal range proves to be more than adequate to convincingly deliver his ideas, and he's written some strong, catchy songs. "Dream of a New Day," the album's best, was even featured in the movie Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Go also to "Fall of a Leader" and "Yvonne" for more solid hooks. But Kotzen's guitar work is still his trump card. Framed by more conventional song structures, Kotzen's solos are given just enough time to sizzle and soar. What's more, his phrasing, tone, and overall technique have improved dramatically since the first album. Check out the solo in "She" for a lesson in perfect pacing. Released in 1990, Fever Dream suffered from bad timing. While Kotzen's talent is superior to most of his contemporaries, the overall tone of his album was too close to the Wingers and Warrants of the day to bring it successfully over the threshold of the new decade. It would have done a lot better had it been released in, say, 1986. Still, this is pop-metal with musical muscle, and some of Kotzen's best guitar playing.

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