Review: The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs Out Now

By Alle Royale

The origins of this project could be traced back to a couple of years ago, when rumors of a collaboration between Mike Portnoy, former Dream Theater drummer, and John Sykes (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy), surfaced. In the end, that original design came to nothing, and virtuoso strings tamers Richie Kotzen and Billy Sheehan entered the picture, and for the better, I must say. I’m not ashamed to say that the final result is a power trio in the same legacy of Cream: like the British legend, The Winery Dogs are composed of three outstanding musicians, leaders absolute in their own action field, that decide to join forces, not to merely show off their amazing chops, but, for once, to write some damn good music, heavily rooted in the tradition of 70’s rock, in all its forms. 
 
Kotzen, who also handles vocal duties with taste and soul, brings to the table a guitar sound so fat and warm you could almost smell the barbeque broiling those funky licks, and with Sheehan’s pop sensibility and Portnoy’s arsenal of percussive fireworks, it sounds like a musical marriage made in heaven. Sometimes the tracks are reminiscent of a bluesy version of Mr. Big (Kotzen replaced original Mr. Big’s guitarist, Paul Gilbert, for the albums “Bump Ahead” and “Actual Size”), notably when they mellow down a little for soulful ballads like “I’m No Angel” and “Damaged”, or they venture in more melodic rock territories, as for the wonderful “The Other Side”; most of the times, the amount of talent involved is so overwhelming, you have just to prepare yourself to face the power of one of the best new musical phenomenon out there. 
 
What really shines out, knowing the ephemeral consistency of most of those so-called super groups, is the high quality of the song writing. On this debut album you wont’ find one single track sounding like a mere excuse to stretch the musicians’ egos, even if there’s enough of those jaw dropping moments to make you decide to quit playing your instrument for good; but you will be severely hit in the head by the mighty hard rock hammer of these three gods.

(Correction: Kotzen replaced original Mr. Big’s guitarist, Paul Gilbert, for the albums “Get Over It” and “Actual Size”. – Alle Royale)

 
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