Dokken are yet another of the 'hair bands' from the 80's that ruled the charts in that era. I have seen Dokken several times and was not impressed by Don Dokken's total lack of stage presence and his horrible vocals in the live setting. The last time I saw them was when they and Slaughter opened for Poison and Cinderella. After Slaughter's stellar performance, Dokken was a letdown, with bassist Jeff Pilson being the only one in the band with any energy. Jeff was also the stronger vocalist at this show. (Jeff Pilson has also played bass on Dio's "Angry Machines.") I again went to see Dokken open for Whitesnake and unlike the past four shows, this time they were fantastic.

Breaking the Chains Dokken - Breaking the Chains (Elektra/Asylum) 1983

1. "Breaking the Chains" (3:50)
2. "In the Middle" (3:44)
3. "Felony " (3:07)
4. "I Can't See You" (3:12)
5. "Live to Rock (Rock to Live)" (3:38)
6. "Nightrider" (3:13)
7. "Seven Thunders" (3:56)
8. "Young Girls" (3:14)
9. "Stick to Your Guns" (3:24)
10. "Paris is Burning" [live] (5:08)

It's about time I found a copy of this on CD. I never, ever see this one used and finally secured a copy on for $5.99. "Breaking the Chains" was originally released as an import of Carrere Record and later picked up and re-released by Elektra. I have not seen the original version but have been told that the original had the studio version of "Paris is Burning" and also has the track "Live To Rock" listed as "We're Illegal". The live version of "Paris is Burning" was recorded live in Berlin, December 1982.

Dokken's debut is an explosive, fairly raw chunk of early 80's heavy metal. Songs like "Nightrider" and "Stick to Your Guns" remind me of Ratt or mid-80's Scorpions. However, what Dokken employed here was slightly different than most of the bands of this genre. While they did have the heavy guitar wizardry of George Lynch, what set them apart was the multi-layered vocal harmonies, something that would become a trademark of the band on following releases. Of course, the title track is on of their trademark songs and is certainly a classic. As a matter of fact, the entire album is quite good. I actually enjoy the pre-gloss days of the band a bit more than the glossier albums like "Under Lock & Key."

Bassist for this album, Juan Croucier left to join Ratt at which point long time Dokken bassist/vocalist Jeff Pilson joined the fold and added a lot to the band's vocal harmonies..

Tooth & Nail Dokken - Tooth & Nail
(Elektra) 1984

1. "Without Warning" [instrumental] (1:35)
2. "Tooth and Nail" (3:40)
3. "Just Got Lucky" (4:35)
4. "Heartless Heart" (3:29)
5. "Don't Close Your Eyes" (4:06)
6. "When Heaven Comes Down" (3:43)
7. "Into the Fire" (4:30)
8. "Bullets to Spare" (3:32)
9. "Alone Again" (4:20)
10. "Turn on the Action" (4:15)

Many people consider this to be the best of all Dokken's albums, and I certainly can understand why. "Tooth & Nail" rocks decisively harder than most of the rest of Dokken's discography, yet it still is infectious in it's commercial hooks and sing along melodies. "Into the Fire" was a huge hit for the band, as was the power ballad "Alone Again." I absolutely love this song. Even before becoming a Dokken fan I liked this song. It has such a powerful and emotional hook. Try listening to it once and see if it doesn't repeat itself through your head for the rest of the day. However, the non-hits are good as well, especially some of the fierce heavy metal numbers such as "Turn On The Action," "When Heaven Comes Down" and the title track. American hair metal at it's finest.

"Wild" Mick Brown, myself and bassist Greg Smith. 2008

Had this CD signed by "Wild" Mick Brown when I met him performing with Ted Nugent in Beaver Dam, WI in 2008.

Under Lock & Key Dokken - Under Lock and Key (Elektra) 1985

1. "Unchain the Night" (5:17)
2. "The Hunter" (4:06)
3. "In My Dreams" (4:18)
4. "Slippin' Away" (3:46)
5. "Lightnin' Strikes Again" (3:47)
6. "It's Not Love" (5:01)
7. "Jaded Heart" (4:13)
8. "Don't Lie to Me" (3:38)
9. "Will the Sun Rise" (4:09)
10. "Til the Livin' End" (3:56)

Strong commercial and melodic heavy metal album with a stellar guitar performance by George Lynch. Plenty of strong tracks; "The Hunter, Unchain The Night, In My Dreams" and "It's Not Love." "In My Dreams" was an MTV hit for the band. Of course, what would an 80's pop metal album be with the obligatory power ballads? "Lock and Key" has it's share of these as well. (ie "Slippin' Away") Still, being a fan of this type of melodic metal, I certainly can appreciate this disc and am sure I will get more Dokken in the future.

Back for the Attack Dokken - Back for the Attack (Elektra) 1987

1. "Kiss of Death" (5:48)
2. "Prisoner" (4:19)
3. "Night by Night" (5:20)
4. "Standing in the Shadows" (5:05)
5. "Heaven Sent" (4:50)
6. "Mr. Scary" [instrumental] (4:37)
7. "So Many Tears" (4:54)
8. "Burning Like a Flame" (4:44)
9. "Lost Behind the Wall" (4:18)
10. "Stop Fighting Love" (4:57)
11. "Cry of the Gypsy" (4:46)
12. "Sleepless Nights" (4:30)
13. "Dream Warriors" (4:46)

Dokken had a hit with the song "Dream Warriors", which was featured in the movie "A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors". Overall, however, I think this album featured the least amount of hits for this band, yet I find that this disc is heavier, more urgent, and more serious than any of the band's earlier outputs. Still, with all of the band's 80's outputs, if you like one, you like them all. Dokken just sounds like Dokken. The band also has a song that was released as a b-side called "Back for the Attack" that was originally recorded for this release, but for some stupid reason, left off. I have this song on a compilation CDR.

Beast from the East Dokken - Beast From The East (Elektra) 1988

1. "Unchain The Night" (5:38)
2. "Tooth And Nail" (3:18)
3. "Dream Warriors" (4:09)
4. "Kiss Of Death" (5:21)
5. "When Heaven Comes Down" (3:44)
6. "Into The Fire " (5:02)
7. "Mr. Scary" (7:00)
8. "Heaven Sent" (5:12 )
9. "It's Not Love" (6:14)
10. "Alone Again" (5:34)
11. "Just Got Lucky" (5:02)
12. "Breaking The Chains" (5:21)
13. "In My Dreams" (5:02)
14. "Walk Away" (4:30)

OUTSTANDING live CD! One of the things I have always liked about live discs is that raw energy and heavy sound that just can't seem to be captured in the studio. That is exactly what Dokken captured here. They were also at the top of their game when recording this CD, so the band is tight. Take a listen to "Mr. Scary" and see if it doesn't send chills down your spine. George Lynch sounds amazing. Decades later people can mock the look of the 80's bands, but there is no denying the talent. "Beast from the East" is probably my favorite Dokken CD.

The 2 LP US version as well as the Japanese version contains three bonus tracks: "Standing in the Shadows", "Sleepless Nights" and "Turn on the Action."

Up From the Ashes Don Dokken - Up From the Ashes (Geffen) 1990

1. "Crash 'N' Burn" (5:03)
2. "1000 Miles Away" (5:00)
3. "When Some Nights" (4:27)
4. "Forever" (5:16)
5. "Living a Lie" (4:38)
6. "When Love Finds a Fool" (5:34)
7. "Give It Up" (4:11)
8. "Mirror Mirror" (4:36)
9. "Stay" (4:28)
10. "Down in Flames" (5:11)
11. "The Hunger" (5:03)

Hmm, smells like Dokken, sounds like Dokken. Even looks like Dokken. Must be Dokken. This 'solo' cd release from Dokken mainman Don Dokken may have his full name on the disc and may have been hyped as a solo disc, but the music sounds so much like Dokken, it's a wonder he just didn't release it under his last name only. Perhaps the music is a tad more mellow here and there, but overall, this disc is just as good as most of the Dokken 1980's releases. Along for the ride is drummer Mickey Dee (Motorhead/King Diamond), bassist Peter Baltes (Accept), and guitarist/songwriter John Norum (Europe) who is a full fledged member of Dokken (the band) as of the winter of 2002. The band also starred in the movie Far Out Man.

Dokken (Victor) 1994

1. "What Price" (5:40)
2. "Shadows Of Life" (4:32)
3. "Long Way Home" (5:10)
4. "The Maze" (4:42)
5. "Nothing Left To Say" (4:47)
6. "Lesser Of Two Evils" (4:08)
7. "Inside Looking Out" (4:04)
8. "Sweet Chains" (5:48)
9. "Too High Too Fly" (6:39)

This Japan-only, self-titled release is a stripped down, rawer version of "Dysfunctional", minus a couple of songs. I had actually heard "Dysfunctional" first and wasn't impressed. So, I was expecting the worst here, but surprisingly, this album is actually pretty darned good. Perhaps I should have given "Dysfuntional" a few more spins to see if it would have grown on me. Granted, "Dokken" doesn't quite have the immediate catchiness of some of their 80's classics, but lead off track "What Price" and album closer "Too High Too Fly" are quite good. I actually prefer the slightly rawer, heavier mix or mastering on this CD to the slicker American release. Perhaps this added to my more immediate enjoyment of "Dokken". This Japanese release comes wrapped in a nice box and also includes a 24-page, full color book packed with photos of the reunited band, as well as a 20-page CD insert. The insert is complete with lyrics in both Japanese and English and a biography, unfortunately only in Japanese.

Dysfunctional Dokken - Dysfunctional (Columbia) 1995

1. "Inside Looking Out" (4:08)
2. "Hole In My Head" (4:33)
3. "The Maze" (4:50)
4. "Too High To Fly" (7:10)
5. "Nothing Left To Say" (4:30)
6. "Shadows Of Life" (4:32)
7. "Long Way Home" (5:12)
8. "Sweet Chains" (5:46)
9. "Lesser Of Two Evils" (4:03)
10. "What Price" (5:45)
11. "From The Beginning" (4:12)

Dokken's reunion CD is aptly titled considering the feuding between the original band members. "Dysfunctional" is a decent, yet uninspiring album and doesn't exactly recall the glory days of the band. Honestly though, there are a few decent cuts on this disc. "The Maze" is a decent song with a slight King's X vibe and "Too High to Fly" is an excellent song. "Lesser of Two Evils" isn't a bad song either and reminds me of the Dokken of old. Overall the sound here is an attempt at alternative rock in order to fit in with the times ('95), although I think the band also took some music cues from their 70s heros as well. I can understand why an older band wants to be relevant, but the problem will always remain that the longtime fans of the band will inherently like the sound that the band created for themselves. In most cases changing styles will most likely alienate your old fans and certainly not create any new fans. The younger music fans aren't interested in the older generation's bands, no matter how 'current' they sound. Unfortunately Dokken didn't figure that out until after they released their next CD, which was a horrible mess titled "Shadowlife."

Shadowlife Dokken - Shadowlife (CMC International) 1997

1.     Puppet On A String (4:22)
2.     Cracks In The Ground (5:02)
3.     Sky Beneath My Feet (4:36)
4.     Until I Know (2:18)
5.     Hello (3:14)
6.     Convenience Store Messiah (4:29)
7.     I Feel (4:25)
8.     Here I Stand (4:44)
9.     Hard To Believe (4:29)
10.   Sweet Life (4:24)
11.   Bitter Regret (3:59)
12.   I Don't Mind (3:19)
13.   Until I Know (Slight Return) (2:41)

Reunion disc #2 for Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and 'Wild' Mick Brown. The 90's were a tough time for the hair metal bands on the 80's. Everything about that golden era was uncool; long hair, guitar solos, pop hooks, upbeat, fun songs, etc. As such many bands attempted to "stay relevant" and tried to sound like the popular bands at the time; Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, etc. Dokken had tried a balancing act with their first reunion disc "Dysfunctional", mixing current sounds with some of their former glory. However, with "Shadowlife" the band donned their flannel and jumped headlong into the 90's sound, thanks in part to producer Kelly Gray (Candlebox, Queensryche). Gray even has a couple of songwriting credits on "Shadowlife". What results is so far from the Dokken sound that it's barely recognizable as a Dokken album. The general consensus from fans is that "Shadowlife" is a pale shadow of what Dokken once were, and I would not disagree. It's a fairly lifeless album, almost depressed in it's sound, dark, moody, and grungy. It's just a chore to listen to rather than something I really want to put on. When it comes right down to it, Dokken are a fun, upbeat, LA heavy metal band. They are "Breaking the Chains", "In My Dreams", "Alone Again" and "Mr. Scary". I really don't care to hear Dokken trying to be Alice in Chains. Put on the dusty shelf next to Scorpions "Eye II Eye" and Def Leppard "Slang" as failed attempts at being current.

I saw Dokken several times since this release and thankfully they pretended like they never recorded Dysfunctional or Shadowlife.

Very Best of... Dokken - The Very Best of Dokken (Rhino) 1999

1. "Breaking the Chains" (3:52)
2. "Paris Is Burning" [live] (5:09)
3. "Into the Fire" (4:27)
4. "Just Got Lucky" (4:36)
5. "Alone Again" (4:22)
6. "Tooth and Nail" (3:42)
7. "The Hunter" (4:08)
8. "In My Dreams" (4:20)
9. "It's Not Love" (5:00)
10. "Dream Warriors" (4:48)
11. "Burning Like a Flame" (4:46)
12. "Heaven Sent" (4:53)
13. "Mr. Scary" (4:30)
14. "Walk Away" (5:02)
15. "Mirror Mirro" (4:40)
16. "Too High to Fly" (7:10)

"The Very Best of Dokken" is an excellent,16-song career retrospective from a band that dominated in the 80's. The tracks span the time from "Breaking the Chains" through "Dysfunctional" and are arranged in chronological order. The one track that is not from a Dokken album is "Mirror Mirror," from Don Dokken's 1990 solo album, which to me always sounded like Dokken anyhow. Nicely laid out insert with detailed liner notes and some bust a gut laughing photos.

Erase the Slate Dokken - Erase the Slate (CMC International) 1999

1. "Erase the Slate" (3:47)
2. "Change the World" (4:35)
3. "Maddest Hatter" (4:38)
4. "Drown" (4:53)
5. "Shattered" (4:40)
6. "One" (3:10)
7. "Who Believes" (4:23)
8. "Voice of the Soul" (4:12)
9. "Crazy Mary Goes Round" (3:00)
10. "Haunted Lullabye" (4:47)
11. "In Your Honor" (4:31)
12. "Untitled" [instrumental] (1:16)

"Erase the Slate" marks the departure of original guitarist George Lynch. . . again. However the ex-Winger guitarist Reb Beach comes in and takes over with authority helping to release one of the best discs since the band's 80s outputs. The disc starts of heavy and with only a few expections, stays that way. The title track, "Change the World" and "Voice of the Soul" are each as good as anything on "Tooth & Nail." I could have lived without the silly cover of "One" and "Crazy Mary" is a tad more in the modern rock meets the Beatles direction than I would like, but otherwise, I was quite surprised with this disc. I would imagine that Dokken die-hards were in heaven when this disc was released.

Long Way Home Dokken - Long Way Home (Sanctuary) 2002

1. "Sunless Days" (4:20)
2. "Little Girl" (3:44)
3. "Everybody Needs (To Be With Someone)" (3:15)
4. "You" (3:47)
5. "Goodbye My Friend" (4:06)
6. "Magic Road" (3:31)
7. "There Was a Time" (3:53)
8. "Heart Full of Soul" (2:28)
9. "Under the Gun" (4:20)
10. "I've Found" (3:43)

Exit guitarist Reb Beach, enter guitar shredder John Norum, who formerly recorded with Don Dokken on his 1990 solo album."Long Way Home" starts off with a heavy track that sounds as good as anything from the George Lynch era. After that, however, the rest of the album is nothing like the Dokken of old, save for some of Don's vocal harmonies. Several of the tracks have a heavy Beatles sound ("Little Girl" & "Everybody Needs". "Goodbye My Friend"). To tell the truth, on the first listen I didn't care much for the album, but after a few more listens I really began to enjoy it. The songs are catchy and the overall production is quite good. It may not sound like the Dokken of old, but "Long Way Home" is a good melodic rock album. "Heart Full of Soul" was also covered by Don's friend Joshua, and was made popular by the Yardbirds.

Hell to Pay Dokken - Hell To Pay (Sanctuary) 2004

1.   The Last Goodbye (4:37)
2.   Don't Bring Me Down (3:24)
3.   Escape (4:37)
4.   Haunted (3:39)
5.   Prozac Nation (4:32)
6.   Care For You (4:11)
7.   Better Off Before (3:00)
8.   Still I'm Sad (4:37)
9.   I Surrender (3:03)
10. Letter To Home (4:28)
11. Can You See (4:09)
12. Care For You (unplugged version) (3:58)

From the mid-1990s until this release Dokken have attempted to retool their sound in an attempt to stay relevant in an ever changing musical climate. While some of those releases were mildly successful, few Dokken fans really wanted to hear Dokken play alternative rock or some other form of modern rock. Dokken fans want those big hooks, the shredding guitars, the big drums and those catchy vocals harmonies. No doubt about it, Dokken's best years were in the 1980's before grunge came onto the scene. With Dokken's eleventh album "Hell To Pay" they attempt to get back to the sound that made them so popular in the 80's. 

Guitarist John Norum (Europe) is gone, now replaced by John Levin (Warlock/Doro). Also leaving the fold is original bass player Jeff Pilson replaced by ex-Yngwie Malmsteen collaborator Barry Sparks. Unfortunately for Dokken, Pilson's background vocals and harmonies were a big part of their sound. So only Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown are left in the fold. (Brown and Sparks also spent time together touring with Ted Nugent.) Musically, everything is impeccable. The guitar work, the drumming, the bass playing and even Don's vocals are all top notch.  Levin's unique guitar style is clearly heard in songs like album opener "Last Goodbye" with it's Middle Eastern flair and sense of melodicism. As well, "Haunted" has a warm, earthy swagger. The obligatory power ballad "Care for You" is stuck right in the middle of the album and sort of breaks up the momentum the album had built to that point. For whatever reason this song was also included as an acoustic version at the end of the record as well. "Letter to Home" sounds like it could have been recorded for Don's last album "Long Way Home". The melancholy song has that same Beatlesque quality that much of that album had. Overall, "Hell To Pay" is a good to decent Dokken album. It certainly won't top any of the band's 80's albums, but it should please hardcore Dokken fans more-so than albums like "Shadowlife" and "Dysfunctional". (Thanks Vexer6)

Lightning Strikes Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again (Rhino) 2008

1.    Standing on the Outside (3:54)
2.    Give Me A Reason (3:52)
3.    Heart to Stone (3:58)
4.    Disease (3:32)
5.    How I Miss Your Smile (4:03)
6.    Oasis (3:42)
7.    Point of no Return (4:25)
8.    I Remember (4:50)
9.    Judgement Day (4:04)
10.  It Means (4:44)
11.  Release Me (5:47)
12.  This Fire (4:41)

Rumors for “Lightning Strikes Again” were that Dokken, who are down to two original members, were returning to their classic sound. With a title that is obviously a throwback to the song of the same name from the band’s 1985 album "Under Lock And Key", it is obviously meant to imply that as well. This sort of hype about older band’s returning to their classic sound many times leaves fans disappointed when the band’s sound is nothing like those old classic albums. In this case, however, I think that Dokken has delivered on that promise. That alone made my first spin of this disc much more enjoyable than I had anticipated. On subsequent spins, I found myself quickly singing along to "Standing On the Outside". "Judgment Day" as well has one of those choruses you instantly want to sing along to. "Oasis", "Give Me A Reason", "Heart To Stone", "Point Of No Return" and "This Fire" all have that classic Dokken sound as well.  However, I also began to start picking out the subtle differences between those old 80’s albums and this new Dokken release. "Disease" is a strong track with a darker, more modern sound that would have fit well on some of the band’s misunderstood 90’s releases. Likewise, "It Means" also has a more modern sound. However, the overall vibe is definitely on the classic side of Dokken.

Guitarist John Levin most certainly plays the part of Dokken guitarist. His licks are most certainly a nod to George Lynch, even though I am sure that Levin is a great guitarist in his own right. Don uses his voice well on this album. His voice has obviously taken a beaten over the decades with touring and I think that is apparent on some songs more than others. On “Point of No Return”  there is a point where you would have expected the old Don to bust out a high pitched scream, but here he just sort of sputters out. Still, I think Don knows his limitations and uses them well on this album.

Overall, I was quite pleased with this album and have found myself revisiting it several times over. No, it’s not a carbon copy of "Tooth & Nail" or "Under Lock and Key", nor should it be. Those albums have already been recorded. However, "Lightning Strikes Again" should please most Dokken fans.

Broken Bones Dokken - Broken Bones (Frontiers) 2012

1. Empire (3:33)
2. Broken Bones (4:54)
3. Best of Me (4:19)
4. Blind (3:23)
5. Waterfall (2:49)
6. Victim of Crime (4:31)
7. Burning Tears (4:41)
8. Today (4:21)
9. For the Last Time (3:58)
10. Fade Away (3:46)
11. Tonight (4:58)

With "Broken Bones" Dokken continues to explore the sound from "Lightning Strikes Again", which was mostly a throwback to the classic Dokken sound with more modern production qualities. The songs are a mixture of heavy rockers, melodic mid-paced rock and roll numbers, a few bluesy influences and some mellow moments. The album is chock full of hot licks and those vocal harmonies that Dokken are known for. The opening number "Empire" is a heavy rocker with an immediate and deadly hook. Follow-up track "Broken Bones" is more melodic and brings down the intensity, but is also immediately catchy. This trend runs through the album. Song after song of catchy, well-written choruses and memorable riffs. Whereas "Lightning Strikes Again" was an enjoyable album, "Broken Bones" exceeds it by adding in more hooks, memorable songwriting and even a warmer, earthier production. Frankly I think some of these songs could have been hits for the band back in their glory days, but it's not 1987 any more and most people won't even give this album a listen. "Today" is actually a cover of Jefferson Airplane from their classic album "Surrealistic Pillow".

Don's vocals are even improved over the last album. In 2010 Don went through throat surgery that helped repair some of the damage he had done to his vocal chords. However, it's also evident that Don now knows his limitations and he never really stretches himself on "Broken Bones". There were a couple songs I almost expected to hear an ear-splitting scream, or at least a high note held out for emphasis, but this never happens. Frankly, this was the only disappointment I found with "Broken Bones", though it's only a minor point. Don's voice sounds great, even if he isn't breaking glass. 

"Broken Bones" is an album that will please long-time fans and is definitely worthy inclusion in the Dokken catalog. Of course nostalgia is infinitely important, so I doubt that "Broken Bones" could possibly surpass the band's classic catalog in most fans minds. However, it is my opinion that "Broken Bones" holds up well against anything in their catalog. 

The band consists of Don Dokken (vocals), Mick Brown (drums), Jon Levin (guitar) and Sean McNabb (bass). The album was mixed by Bob St. John (Extreme, Zappa).        

Related Collections:
Lynch Mob/George Lynch | John Norum | Ratt | Winger

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