The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.
The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.
“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.
Then the album blew up.
Listening to “Tooth and Nail” today, thirty years since it was released, I can honestly say it holds up well. Everything that I loved about the album back then, I still like today.
Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.
“Without Warning” kicks it off the one/two punch, with its ominius minor key build, before it breaks into the frantic “Tooth N Nail”. The song is written by Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and it is a definitive piece of hard rock and heavy metal. To me , the song is up there in the same throne room as the work that Randy Rhoads did with Ozzy.
Desperate living, driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall
What a lyric. It’s Dokken’s last chance. The hopes of a musical career was hanging in the balance. The writing was on the wall if they didn’t deliver and in desperation, quality comes. Dokken delivered a speed metal anthem to open up their do or die album.
And with the rise of the “Guitar Hero”, George Lynch really announced his presence, when he delivered a Randy Rhoads inspired lead break that is reminiscent to “Flying High Again”.
Also isn’t it funny how in 1984, the same theme resonated. It was always that “us versus them” attitude. The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” message of Twisted Sister. In this case, “Tooth and Nail” is a protest song against the record label that wanted to drop them.
“When Heaven Comes Down” is another Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition. This time they veer into heavy metal territory.
Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame
Again, when you don’t have the pressure to write to a formula and when you throw everything against the wind, you end up with something great. In this case the subject matter is darker. It is not the usual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
“Into the Fire” is a Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition and this is more in line with the LA Glam sound hence the reason why it became a single.
“Alone Again” is a Don Dokken and Jeff Pilson composition and for a power ballad it is wicked. How good is that solo section? It is a song within a song lead break.
“Turn On the Action” is another speed metal song by the Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition.
“Tooth And Nail” was released at the right time of the hard rock movement and within 12 months it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. It paved the way for Dokken to become a household name.
By 1988, Dokken was at that next level of success. They were doing arena’s and selling them out but they imploded. It was selfish. After reading a lot of band biographies, it became clear that keeping bands together is a difficult job.
James Hetfield wanted to bring in a new singer. Then he wanted Lars Ulrich out. But nothing happened and Metallica remained in tact to go on to become the worlds biggest band. That wasn’t the case for Dokken. They splintered and never recovered.