Salting Earth Richie Kotzen Headroom-Inc American glam-rock band Poison came close to imploding at the 1991 MTV awards. Guitarist CC DeVille, mired in cocaine and booze, played the wrong song, had a fistfight with singer Bret Michaels and promptly was fired. In hindsight, it was an ideal outcome. Michaels found a better guitarist: fellow Pennsylvanian Richie Kotzen, who offered technique and mystique in equal measure. But this being Poison, tensions soon surfaced. Kotzen lasted a year, booted out after he was found to be having an affair with the fiancee of drummer Rikki Rockett. Kotzen, 47, has since gone on to bigger projects. He supported the Rolling Stones in 2006 and before that replaced Paul Gilbert in virtuoso trio Mr Big. Kotzen burst on to the scene as a “shredder”, known for the kind of lightning-fast sweeps that metalheads love. This album, his 22nd solo effort, underlines his talent as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and, above all, vocalist. The opening track, End of Earth, has the gravel and groove that David Coverdale brought to Deep Purple. There’s a soulful falsetto here, too, on Cannon Ball and the acoustic, introspective, funk ballad, Grammy. I’ve Got You is catchy rock groove, but the standout is Meds, powered by a slinking bassline and suitably melodramatic chorus. Kotzen plays Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in August.