Album review: The Winery Dogs

It’s a full time job keeping track of Mike Portnoy‘s every single project, especially since his departure from Dream Theater. The hardest working drummer in rock teams up this time with bass wizard Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr Big, Steve Vai and many more) and ace guitarist and vocalist Richie Kotzen whose most famous assignment was replacing C.C. Deville in Poison when he was 21 (!), thus increasing tenfold the level of musicanship in that band. (He also replaced Paul Gilbert in Mr Big, and is a prolific artist under his own name)

The three virtuosos team up as The Winery Dogs and just released their self-titled debut album. While an album from these guys could have easily been an instrumental display of technical prowess, we are treated to 13 solid rock tracks, where chops are obvious but still restrained. That’s not to say that they don’t let it out at times, but the songs are the focus here, and their catchy brand of rock is a mix of classic and 90’s rock. It’s nice to hear these guys play in a more restrained setting for once, and the album is strong from start to finish, a rarity these days. Kotzen’s vocals remind me at times of Glenn Hughes, especially on the Black Country Communion albums, and he provides soulful melodies in addition to fretboard blazing guitar solos.

Many of Mike Portnoy’s side projects have short life, either because the individuals involved are too busy, or Mike moves away to his new pet project. But I really hope that Winery Dogs can have a good life an release many more albums. I’m not sure how much of an audience there is in 2013 for a classic rock album, but however many rockers remain will definitely like these guys. This album is excellent; I have a hard time picking highlights because it’s all good. Here’s hoping they tour more extensively and come to Canada!

**** (out of 5)

1 Elevate 5:01
2 Desire 3:41
3 We Are One 4:32
4 I’m No Angel 4:03
5 The Other Side 5:41
6 You Saved Me 5:13
7 Not Hopeless 5:04
8 One More Time 3:36
9 Damaged 3:29
10 Six Feet Deeper 4:12
11 Time Machine 4:44
12 The Dying 6:06
13 Regret 4:49

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Jean-Frederic Vachon
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1 Comment

  • […] The Winery Dogs This super group, composed of Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Ritchie Kotzen was a big surprise, with its classic rock and catchy melodies. The band doesn’t thread new ground, but the song are really well done and the musicianship is stellar. Since it’s a side project for all three musicians, it remains to be seen how much leg the band will have (especially with serial drummer Mike Portnoy’s habit of jumping from band to band) but let’s hope for a few albums out of these guys, and more touring. Read my review here. […]

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