It was almost a year ago I reviewed The Winery Dogs eponymous debut album and loved it to bits. Since then this magnificent trio of musicians has been pretty much on tour constantly, so it’s no real surprise that we’re getting a chance to hear some of this tour in the comfort of our own bedrooms (or wherever you choose to listen these days).
Now I don’t know where you lot stand on Live albums. Me? I can take them or leave them to be honest and I always think they’re more for the dedicated fan of a particular band. Personal opinion aside though you can understand completely why these three musicians have been in the business for so long. Live they are bordering on perfection against the album recordings. The vocals are on the money, the musicianship is on the money, this was apparently only their second ever live gig together but you wouldn’t know it. Then again, would you expect anything less from such stupidly talented people such as these three?
Right from the moment you kick into the superb “Elevate” you’re sucked into The Winery Dogs live in all their pomp and splendour. I hate them for their bloody talents us mere mortals could never have! If you know the album, you’ll instantly recognise the tracks from it, including the Japanese only release “Criminal” that replaced the track “Time Machine” in the rest of the world.
We are also treated to a few covers in the shape of “Stand”, featured on the Poison album Native Tongue on which Kotzen played during his brief stay with the band, “Shine”, a Mr. Big hit from the second Kotzen featured album Actual Size, “You Can’t Save Me” from Kotzen’s solo career and “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by blues guitarist Elvin Bishop from 1975. Naturally all four of these tracks too are handled with great aplomb by the band and are lapped up by the crowd. Fooled Around in particular has this wonderfully laid back blues groove that makes you feel like the band and the audience are just involved in one big jam session.
The marketing team behind the band have been pretty clever with the release of “Unleashed In Japan” too. They’ve also included the debut album in all its glory too, making it a great way of comparing their live and studio exploits. They’ve also pulled out all the stops with special editions ranging from a vinyl version to a box set named “Dog Treats” containing various rarities from The Winery Dogs on top of the live and the studio album.
The vinyl version (that comes with a free download code) features only the live record which has never been released as a stand-alone version. The box set called “Dog Treats” includes both the live and the studio album plus a third CD with original demos called “The Winery Pups”, a DVD that contains music videos and interviews with the band, an extended booklet with am in-studio diary written by Mike Portnoy himself that describes in detail each day in the studio during the recording of the album. And it also has 3 fantastic gimmicks: a Winery Dogs dog tags with a chain,a wine bottle topper and an embroidered paw print logo patch.
If you’re a lover of The Winery Dogs style and a collector of live releases you really don’t want to miss out on this from three musicians who just keep getting better and better with age.
Unleased in Japan is available now
3. Time Machine
4. I’m No Angel
5. Not Hopeless
7. You Can’t Save Me
9. Fooled Around and Fell in Love
The Winery Dogs are:
Richie Kotzen – Guitar/Vocals
Billy Sheehan – Bass/Vocals
Mike Portnoy – Drums/Vocals