JAM Magazine CD Review

July , 2013
Review by Scott Dworkin

The Winery Dogs

"The Winery Dogs"

Label: Loud and Proud Records

Honestly, at this point if you don't know who Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy and Richie Kotzen are, you probably wouldn't be on a rock music website, and you likely wouldn't have even clicked on this review. So safe to assume most everyone reading this review of the new Winery Dogs album knows at the very least that this is the new power trio these three legends have formed. Their debut self titled album is set to release on July 23rd.

The talents of these three artists found throughout their previous bodies of work is well known and hugely well respected, but put the three of them together in one band, and the result is nothing short of spectacular!

To say each of them is a virtuoso on their respective instruments is not a stretch. Sometimes virtuosos don't play nice with one another and need to be front and center to feature their playing, in the case of The Winery Dogs this is farthest from the truth. Portnoy is playing a much smaller drum kit than his typical set up, still even in a trio, truly one of the most powerful and unique drummers alive. Sheehan, after all these years still plays wicked bass licks that still amazes, and Kotzen is, as always, a wizard on the guitar, (why isn't he more famous? What is most surprising here the discovery of the MASSIVLY underappreciated/underrated singer Kotzen is!

The highlight of this album really is Richie Kotzen's vocals, he truly kills. The bluesy songs suit Kotzen's voice perfectly, and the harmony backing vocals provided by Portnoy and Sheehan blend well with his lead singing. There are actually some hints in the harmonies of Sheehan's old band Mr. Big, and his talents as a back-up singer are put to good use. Again I hate to use the same term, but he is massively underrated as a harmony vocalist, and honestly I didn't even know Mike Portnoy could sing but he does on this album and along with his drumming it brings a powerful push to the background vocals.

Kotzen's guitar playing and solos on every one of the tracks shred, yet don't stand out as grandstanding for the sake of showing off, they fit into the songs perfectly. Kudos also needs to go to Jay Ruston who mixed the album for allowing each of the artists' instruments to be heard and appreciated. In the form of this power trio, you get three amazing musicians putting all they have learned, all that they are known for, into one amazing 13 track album.

The Winery Dogs debut album, for me is the album of the year, and I don't think anyone who has followed these three throughout their careers will disagree. Do yourself a favor, buy this album and put on the second to last track The Dying, close your eyes and listen to three masters at their craft...and then tell all your friends to buy it too!

01. Elevate
02. Desire
03. We are one
04. I'm no angel
05. The other side
06. You saved me
07. Not hopeless
08. One more time
09. Damaged
10. Six feet deeper
11. Time machine
12. The dying
13. Regret