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The Record Vault: Dokken – Under Lock And Key

Album number three, released in 1985. “In My Dreams” had MTV circulation, and it pushed the album to a Platinum certification in the U.S.

Neil Kernon and Michael Wagener are on hand to produce, engineer and mix. Don Dokken had a certain fondness to work with Wagener on his vocals. He met Wagener when he did a club tour of Germany in 1979.

Don then got a deal with Carrere Records in 1981 with the songs that Lynch and Dokken wrote and he did the Don Dokken “Breaking The Chains” album.

Fun fact, it was Gaby Hauke Hoffmann aka Deaffy who did the lyrics for those Accept records who got Don the record deal. There was another bass player who didn’t work out and Peter Baltes from Accept took over.

George Lynch and Mick Brown came over to Germany and did their bits and the album was re-released. It did good business in Germany and Cliff Burnstein from Q Prime picked the album up on import and liked it.

Burnstein then signed Don to a management deal. After a small tour in Germany with Juan Croucier on bass, they came back to the U.S. Lynch left the band and Croucier joined Ratt. It was just Don and Mick.

Don signed a deal with Elektra and Warren DeMartini was in the band for a short period before Lynch decided to come back in.

“Tooth And Nail” came out and the guys went back to their day jobs. But the album blew up. It started selling, “Alone Again” was in the charts and the label decided to put the band into the studio again.

According to Don, he wrote 80% of the songs for “Under Lock And Key” but got dipped on the credits as the band wanted the credits to state “all songs written by Dokken”. Lynch and Pilson also wrote a lot of music and A&R exec, Tom Zutaut had the most dangerous job in the world. To pick the songs to go on the record.

It was a time of excess. The album cost $150K to make and they then spent $250K on video clips.

Unchain The Night

The guitar intro immediately had my attention.

And Don was lost in the middle, running around in circles and unable to touch someone who had a knife in their heart.

Confused. Me too. Even the title confused me as I couldn’t understand how someone could chain something that isn’t an object.

But I didn’t care.

The music was excellent and the Lynch lead.

Wow. Its fast and shredalicious, but it’s got feel and emotion and melody.

And the outro, when the intro riff comes in, the power chords crash down around you and Lynch gets a chance to wail again. He’s playing for the song, its restrained and beautiful. Then the singing is back in and I don’t want to song to end. And they didn’t fade it out. They ended it like how they would end it live.

So I picked the needle up and replayed the song.

The Hunter

Lynch brought in the music and he wanted it to be his instrumental on the album. Don thought otherwise and he took the jam session home with him and wrote the lyrics. The instrumental then became “The Hunter”.

Don wrote a memorable hook for the Chorus and how good is the guitar lead from Lynch?

In My Dreams

According to Don, he wrote most of the riffs and lyrics for this song. With the opening vocal hook, this song was going to crossover into the mainstream. MTV loved it, played it and it pushed the album.

And for all its commercialism, you cannot take away the power of the metal lead break.

Slippin’ Away

After the first three songs, this was a letdown. The shining light here is Lynch’s “Journey – Neal Schon” like solo break.

Lightning Strikes Again

But they made up for the small slip previously.

This is my favourite song on the album and along with “Kiss Of Death” some of the most heaviest riffs committed to tape.

From the interviews I have read, this song is a collaboration.

The intro riff is part of the “One Riff To Rule Em All”. Just think “Power And The Glory” from Saxon and “2 Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden.

And if you think the riff sounds similar to another Dokken song, it does. Check out “Unchain The Night”.

And also check out Lynch’s call and response lead break.

It’s Not Love

Don refers to this song as “their” song.

It’s got the Lynch like power chord to devils tritone kind of riff. The intro riff always gets me thinking of the “Warriors” movie.

And those street gang like vocals in the Chorus.

Jaded Heart

How good are the verses?

The acoustic riff, the vocal melody, everything.

Don’t Lie To Me

As soon as I heard this song, I thought of “Rock You Like A Hurricane”.

Will The Sun Rise

It’s like “The Hunter”. More mellow and subdued, about liberty, fighting to be free and how one mistake, could make it all go to hell.

Til The Livin End

It retains the metal edge of “Tooth And Nail” and “Turn On The Action”. If anything it’s a speed metal track. And I like how it finishes, like a live track. There’s no fade out.

P.S.
Pilson likes this album, but in a recent interview he said that “Tooth And Nail” is his favourite.

P.S.S
I also like this album a lot that I have it purchased it on three occasions.

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11 thoughts on “The Record Vault: Dokken – Under Lock And Key

  1. Dokken’s output was stellar in the 80s. When I caught Don opening for Poison back in 91 they opened with The Hunter! I was onboard! lol
    This is a great album. Going to cue it up on Apple Music now that you brought it up! Great writeup Pete!

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