by Emery Columna –
“Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that sh!t and just play.” – Charlie Parker
To be a really great power trio you have to look at history to get a little perspective. Three come immediately to mind: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and Rush. What these power trios have in common is that each member is the master of their instrument.
So it is with The Winery Dogs. These guys can PLAY.
Richie Kotzen has two voices. The one he uses to make his guitar talk and the one he uses to deliver vocals that are similar in strength to Chris Cornell. There are not many musicians who can Play guitar and Sing as good or as strong as Richie at the same time.
So the guitar… I really can’t say I’ve heard anyone who sounds like Richie and that is good because that means that Richie has found his own voice on guitar… and the dude plays keys too!
The one liner on Billy Sheehan is that he is Rock’s version of Jaco Pastorius. I have not heard anyone who can play LEAD bass guitar with such command of the instrument as Billy. They haven’t been born yet.
There are moments on this album where Richie and Billy double lines on Lead and it is killer and it works! Billy is all over the neck when the song calls for it, or lays down a phat groove with Mike Portnoy as needed. While other bassists slap, Billy has chosen to tap. You have got to see and hear this live for yourself!
I was multi-tasking while listening to this groovy album when it hit me… Mike Portnoy is a freaking clock! As Ginger Baker puts it, Mike’s “Got Time”. Do me a favor and listen to SPIRAL. Mike is a freaking clock! Mike keeps better time than my Rolex. There is nothing sloppy about his technique.
You might ask me, Emery, all this technical brilliance is great, but what about the music?
From a production perspective, this album is sequenced like the great albums used to be. Every song is perfectly placed and created this sonic arc that took me elsewhere only to drop me off at the end wondering why the trip had to end.
OBLIVION grabs you at the very start and pulls you into The Winery Dogs’ world and does not let go until you’ve been taken on a ride around it. HOT STREAK, HOW LONG, and EMPIRE let you step into their wheelhouse, relenting only for a moment with a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano half-way-segue in FIRE. Then they grab you again and take you to GHOST TOWN, THE BRIDGE and WAR MACHINE.
The best part of my trip was SPIRAL! What a kool, atmospheric song! It has it all, as far as I am concerned. I hope someone takes it to Radio…
Another groovy song I really dig is THINK IT OVER. It is a modern take on a 70’s vibe about relationships.
The Winery Dogs finish strong with THE LAMB, dropping me off at a really good place in life.
Take the trip! I recommend the journey.
MAAF Box Listening Pleasure: Oblivion, Hot Streak, How Long, Empire, Fire, Ghost Town, The Bridge, War Machine, Spiral, Think It Over, The Lamb