Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Jeff Pilson Talks

Blabbermouth always has clickbait headlines that hook me in. If I was a fish, I would have been someone’s dinner a long time ago. This story is from April 2020, and I’ve had it sitting there to write a blog post on.

“If there’s one record for me with DOKKEN, it would be the ‘Tooth And Nail’ [1984] record, just because we were still very hungry.

It’s a pretty raw record, but there’s a lot of great writing on there. It’s not the best-sounding record we ever did, sonically. We kind of changed horses in the middle of the stream, so we had to do some damage control, sonically.

But there’s something about it that’s very real and it’s very hungry, like I said. There’s energy and angst in that record that we never quite matched again. So that’s probably the record I’m most proud of, but there’s [other] great ones.”
Jeff Pilson

Changing horses in the middle is another word for changing producers because one bailed (Tom Werman) due to the aggressive wrestling and punching between two band members. So others (Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagener) got brought in to finish off the recording as producer and mixer.

On “Tooth And Nail”, Pilson is a co-writer on all of the 10 tracks and he is the true unsung hero of this album, the glue between George Lynch and Don Dokken. And if you listen to the album, you will hear speed metal (“Tooth And Nail” and “Turn On The Action”, heavy metal (“Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “When Heaven Comes Down” and “Bullets To Spare”), hard rock (“Just Got Lucky” and “Heartless Heart”), ballads (“Alone Again”) and mixtures of all those styles in (“Into The Fire”).

“We did a record in 1999 called ‘Erase The Slate’ that I was actually very, very proud of, with Reb Beach on guitar. A fabulous record.

Then there was a DIO record that I did called ‘Strange Highways’ [1993] that I still think was just a hugely underrated record, because when it came out, people were expecting a more traditional DIO record, and I think over time, people have come to appreciate it more.

But that was such an inspired period, and working with Ronnie [James Dio] at that point was such a game changer for me. And the chemistry of that band and the writing chemistry that we had was so powerful and I still think ‘Strange Highways’ really holds up.”
Jeff Pilson

“Erase The Slate” is a perfect comeback album for Dokken after the terrible “Shadowlife” album they did with George Lynch. Reb Beach gave the band an injection it really needed and with all of the songs written by the four dudes in the band, my favourites are “Erase The Slate”, “Change The World”, “Maddest Hatter” and “Voice Of The Soul”.

Meanwhile George Lynch went from bad to even worse with his reboot of Lynch Mob into a nu-metal rap act. I purchased it, listened to it and never played it again.

“It’s a crazy world we live in and I’m leaving it today”
From Strange Highways

It sure is crazy. The protests happening in the U.S and now other parts of the world, all under the cloud of a pandemic show just how crazy and desperate it is. Time will tell how all of this plays out. Then again, history is always written by the winners, so…

“Strange Highways” released in 1993 from Dio is a heavy comeback album. I guess the time Dio spent with Black Sabbath and the “Dehumanizer” album brought out a more heavier approach. And Pilson again rises to the occasion with 9 co-writes on this album out of 11 tracks. But the surprise to me was Tracy G on guitars, who co-write the music on all of the 11 tracks. I had heard of his WWIII project from 1990 and seen the ads in the music mags, but never heard any music from it.

A soccer mate, “Nick The Stick”, was (and still is) a mad Dio fan, so he dubbed the CD on a cassette for me as I wasn’t sure I was back on the Dio train. I enjoyed “Lock Up The Wolves” (1990) and “Dehumanizer” (1992) so I don’t know why I wasn’t interested in a new Dio album. But I do know that my musical tastes were developing and looking for different ways and styles to learn and incorporate into hard rock.

The search for something different was linked to my journey as a practicing guitar player. It’s a big reason why “Images and Words” from Dream Theater (1992), “Undertow” from Tool (1993) and “Promised Land” from Queensryche (1994) resonated with me.

Do the crime, then write the law, there’s no wrong, you can change it
From Here’s To You

It sure seems that way. The people in power and their advisors keep breaking the laws and then after a few years they are in a position of power to write new laws. The GFC villains/architects all went on college speaking tours, while millions around the world lost their homes.

And the purpose of this post was to bring back some great albums that an artist holds up high. Plus it’s always cool to hear and read interviews from artists who talk about their previous works.

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6 thoughts on “Jeff Pilson Talks

  1. Tooth and Nail is I think their best. Actually the 80s output of Dokken was awesome. Not a bad one in the bunch.
    I never bought into the rotating Dokken lineup records. I did buy Live From The Sun. That was decent enough. But I’m a Curious George fan when he’s in Dokken.

  2. I never followed Dokken out of the 80’s so all I have is Tooth & Nail, Under Lock & Key and Back for the Attack. I great set of albums. I still need Breaking the Chains & Beast from the East on vinyl.

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