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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2017
I wanted to purchase this as "Unleashed In Japan" simply because it came with the live album as a bonus (and I simply love live albums!) - but the price was always high, or else the album itself, just wasn't available and, as I already owned the excellent "Hot Streak" album, I eventually succumbed to buying the single studio album - and WOW, what an album!
Well, when you have three talented players in Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy...what else would you expect? But this album fair explodes out of your speakers from the start with 5 straight rockers slowing down only for You Saved Me, to allow you to catch your breath before 2 more rockers hit you full on....this is a pure power display by a band as tight and cohesive as these three individuals should make up, but it's also the delivery of masterful songs that really does hit home. However, despite all of this it is simply 2 tracks - 1 x rocker in "Time Machine" and 1 x ballad in the beautiful "Damaged" that make this album a complete winner for me with Richie Kotzen still proving that he is one of the best vocalists around and yet still goes largely unrecognised this side of the Pond...!
If you like rock that hits you like a train, performed by some of the best musicians around, then buy this album - you will not be disappointed!
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on 11 January 2014
After this band got recommended to me by a friend and I saw who was in the band I had to check this out. The Winery Dogs are a supergroup of sorts, featuring ex-Dream Theater, among others, drummer Mike Portnoy, Poison/Mr Big guitarist Richie Kotzen and Mr Big bassist Billy Sheehan but this isn't some musicians showing off, The Winery Dogs are a proper rock band and this debut album of bluesy, funky rock demonstrates that. The first two tracks, Elevate and Desire prove that this band can play and also that Richie Kotzen is a fine singer to, bringing to mind Chris Cornell at times. Even slower tracks such as the brilliant The Dying hit the spot to. Not every song is brilliant, maybe, but as debuts go, The Winery Dogs are off to a great start.

My copy is the Japanese version(which I wasn't aware I was receiving) and therefore omits the song Time Machine in favour of bonus song, Criminal. Having checked out the Alice in Chains-ish Time Machine, that's a decent song to but Criminal also fits well into the album. Either way, fans of the likes of Cream, Free, Zeppelin etc should be impressed!
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on 2 January 2014
When David Lee Roth left VH,many people thought he would struggle to maintain that level of success, as a solo artist."How can you follow Eddie Van Halen and co?" Well,with the astonishing talents of Messrs Vai,Sheehan and Bissonette,he put together a band that were head and shoulders above the competition(including his old band members)and produced the outstanding "Eat 'em and Smile."
Mike Portnoy finds himself in a similar position to DLR. Having left prog rock giants DT,he put together this power trio with Billy Sheehan(bass player extraordinaire)and the ridiculously gifted guitar maestro Richie Kotzen, who also brings his incredible vocal talents to this project. Petrucci,Myung and LaBrie are all superb musicians, but these guys take it to another level altogether.
This album,as you would expect,is full of jaw dropping solos and thunderous bass lines often played in unison,but that is only part of its appeal. All of this incredible musicianship is contained within quality songs with memorable hooks.
Anyone who has not been exposed to Richie's soulful voice,is in for a treat.
In closing,I think I can safely say that Mike Portnoy really landed on his feet when he hooked up with these two guys. Please buy it!
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on 5 February 2014
It's refreshing to see an old rock template such as this coming out of the blue. "The winery dogs" are a relatively direct and highly distillied hard rock supergroup with a solid thirteen length track listing debut. The album starts strongly with the first track "Elevate" and things then pretty much stay that way throughtout. Other standouts include "Desire", "I'm no angel", "Not hopeless", and the admittedly brilliant japanese bonus track "Criminal".

The sound and production is fresh and an organic experience. The members all manage their prospective roles and duties perfectly, and so while the album doesn't really attempt to cut through any new cloth, the debut does come as a formidable statement of intent of-which hails the classic rock sound from days gone by from the likes of Deep Purple & Rainbow, etc. The debut, given the talent and what we know about:- Kotzen, Sheehan & Portnoy, (All towering figures in their own right), the record ultimately hits the spot and then some.

More please!.
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on 30 September 2013
This is a very good album, but not quite a 'classic'.
These three virtuoso musicians have put together some killer hard rock here, music that is both powerful yet melodic. The vocals are surprisingly good, and the lyrics are sound. Most of the tracks have excellent choruses, big hooks that stick in my head, so I can't help humming them after playing the album.
However, there's also quite a bit of 'showboating' or 'showing off' in the musicianship department, and I think some restraint should have been shown in this regard. I guess these guys couldn't resist throwing in some serious 'chops' just to remind the listener how clever and accomplished they are. Still, it's their album so why not? These slightly over-the-top moments let the album down a bit in my opinion, although they don't actually detract too much from the main focus of the tunes.
Anyway, it's all good & exciting rock,...turn it up and annoy your neighbourhood!
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on 11 May 2015
The first time I heard this band, I was blown away. The opening songs are great, but the album as an entirety isnt the best ever.
Mike's drumming is good as usual, but a bit too much at times for me. Too much drum shedding at the end of the opening track for example.
Kotzen's voice sounds very much like Chris Cornell's and his guitar playing is jaw dropping.
Billy sheehan is a virtuoso too and does things on a bass that are amazing.
Its the songs that need to be better.
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on 19 August 2013
Ordered this before it was released as I knew it would be brilliant, but it exceeded all my expectations. The best rock album of 2013, and then some. This band is truly greater than the sum of it's parts, and Richie, Billy and Mike are all at the top of their respective fields. Biggest surprise though.......Richie Kotzen's voice, which is amazing and better than many "singers", let alone "guitarists". Best thing is that the album is full of great SONGS, with excellent musicianship, not the other way round. Bloody marvellous :-)
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on 25 October 2013
I have been listening to this for days and I am loving it.

The songs are catchy, soaked in blues but with the same technical edges that we found in Eat Em And Smile.

Standouts for me are Elevated, I'm No Angel and You Saved Me, although it is pretty difficult to chose as there is not a bad song here.

I was pretty unfamiliar with Richie but his raspy and dynamic voice is excellent, and his guitar playing is wicked. I am still getting over how he can accomplish all this using only finger-style. I can only think that he must be using a lot of tapping and string-skipping to achieve those blistering arpeggiated sequences. He also has a smooth and emotional way with the rhythm guitars and some wrenching bluesy solos.

Billy and Mike blend perfectly, and the production lets all of the instruments shine through clearly.

I hope they stay together and give us many more releases like this, I can't wait to see what they do next.
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on 22 November 2015
Been listening to this quite a lot lately and enjoying most of it.

I wish though the very accomplished drummer would knock off the energy drinks and stop attempting sporadic micro-solos in some songs instead of blending in more with the overall groove. He's frantic! But you can't have everything.

Good solid rock album. Kotzen's vocals and guitar work are excellent. Several of the songs are particularly good. It'll grow on you. 7 out of 10.
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on 19 October 2013
This album is a total stunner. Stellar rhythm section with Portnoy and Sheehan, shaking the ground for Richie Kotzen, who displays supernatural combined guitar and singing skills. To top it off, the songs are pretty much ALL perfect. This is simply a must have, don t hesitate one second. Compared to the latest boring Dream Theater album, this Portnoy effort is simply a winner for me, I can t help just hitting replay, again and again.
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