Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Don Dokken – Up From The Ashes

I know, I know. I mentioned that “Lightning Strikes Again” is the last Dokken album I purchased and that would bring to an end my Record Vault posts on Dokken. But as I was filing away the CD’s I realised there is one more album that I have which I forgot about.

Released in 1990.

“Up from the Ashes” is an excellent record. No one talks about it, but I love it. It’s better than some of the records that outsold it. And it’s been missing from Spotify for a long time but it made an appearance sometime last year.

Released under the name of Don Dokken due to a legal challenge by Pilson, Lynch and Brown to stop him from using the Dokken name. That’s another story on its own. That shouldn’t detract from the album not going platinum. But Don believes it did.

Joining Don on the project are John Norum and Billy White on guitar, Peter Baltes on bass and Mikkey Dee on drums.

“Crash ‘N Burn”

It’s written by Don Dokken and Billy White, who played guitar in Watchtower, a progressive math metal band that released two albums in the late 80’s.

How good is the melodic flamenco and calm acoustic guitar intro?

It then gives way to some blistering and melodic hard rock.

And its personal. “Crash and burn to live again, up from the ashes, I rise” sings Don.

Check out the lead breaks, they are excellent.

“1000 Miles Away”

Written by Dokken and John Norum, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Those chants/ahhs in the Chorus when Don sings, “there’s nothing left to say as I send these words a thousand miles away” are excellent.

“When Some Nights”

Written by Dokken, Norum and White.

The intro brings back memories of “Still Of The Night” from Whitesnake or “Crying In The Rain”. Don sings, “take me back” and a staccato chord is played, then he sings “to a place I remember well” and another staccato chord is played.

“Forever”

Written by Dokken and engineer Wyn Davis. The feel is basically “Heaven Sent” reincarnated. I’m all in with the clean tone to distortion dynamic.

“Living a Lie”

Written by Dokken and Norum, who delivers a machine gun killer riff to kick off the song. And I’m swept up with the music thinking of the Chorus to “Don’t Lie To Me”.

And the lead break is shred-a-licious.

“When Love Finds a Fool”

Written by Dokken and Glenn Hughes.

For a power ballad it’s a favourite. It starts off with arpeggios and a bluesy like lead. The way the song percolates is haunting and then the Chorus with Glenn Hughes on backing vocals crashes in. You can hear the pain.

No one likes break ups. It’s painful. You think of the time wasted and opportunities missed to grow your life. And your starting fresh. It’s scary and the people you knew, you don’t know anymore.

Make sure you check out the lead break and how it builds itself up so the Chorus can crash in again.

“Give It Up”

Written by Dokken and White, a rolling bass line and simple 4/4 drum beat kicks off this AC/DC style rocker in feel. Otherwise it’s a melodic rocker.

Cause when it’s all said and done
Who’s gonna put away the gun

Most of us die from our own doing. Either our own vices and addictions or by our own hand. The gun is the least of our worries.

“Mirror Mirror”

Written by Dokken, White and Mark Spiro. It feels like the Intro/Chorus riff is played by the fingers and not a pick.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
I’m still here, I survived it all

Whatever drags you down, don’t let it. Relationships will always disappoint you and so would that dream job.

Be a survivor.

And the lead break is guitar hero worthy. If you like great guitar playing, check it out.

“Stay”

From my understanding it’s an unfinished Dokken cut which finally gets some love and attention here.

Written by Dokken and Mick Brown with a bass intro played by Tony Franklin. And it sounds like a Blue Murder cut, just before the distortion kicks in.

How catchy is the Chorus?

Although clichéd, you will be singing along with it and playing air guitar to the very Scorpions sounding lead break.

“Down in Flames”

“Trust me everything is fine” repeats a robotic sounding voice. It feels like its counting down with each repeat and then the music crashes in, to kick off one of the heavier songs on the album.

Written by Dokken and White, the intro riff gets me banging my head.

Lyrically it’s about a relationship, but it could have been about so much more.

After the main lead break there is a little harmony lead break which mimics the Chorus vocal melody. Check it out.

“The Hunger”

Written by Dokken and White. Ken Mary also plays drums on this song instead of Mickey Dee and I remember reading a Metal Edge article about this album which said that Ken Mary actually played on the first three tracks as well, before he was replaced.

And of course the first minute is very drum heavy and aggressive. It settles down in the verses, before picking up again for the pre-chorus and then the Chorus.

Norum gets a lot of accolades as a guitarist and he should, he is excellent, however Billy White deserves a special mention. He co-wrote the majority of the songs on this album and shared the leads with Norum. Other sources state that White did 90% of the leads. I’m not sure which leads White did, but all the leads on the album reminded me of Vito Bratta.

After this album and tour, Don lost his Geffen deal and went with John Kalodner to Columbia to reform Dokken. Norum continued with his solo career and bands, eventually re-uniting with Joey Tempest and Europe. Baltes went back to Accept. Mickey Dee would join Motorhead up until Lemmy’s death and then Scorpions from 2016. White on the other hand, just went missing after this album.

Don Dokken was at the peak of his powers between this period. “Back For The Attack”, “Up From The Ashes” and “Dysfunctional” are evidence of that power.

Crank em all.

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6 thoughts on “The Record Vault: Don Dokken – Up From The Ashes

  1. This is a killer album and a killer band Don assembled. Some serious action and a smart move to go to the two guitar format.
    I agree that this may be my favourite Dokken album. It’s solid through and through and I still have it the copy I bought back in 90 on CD.
    Great live act as when I caught back in Jan 91 opening for Poison they opened up with the one-two punch of The Hunter and Give It Up!
    Shame it unravelled by the end of 91 but at least something came out of it…

  2. I love this album. One of the first Dokken albums I bought even though it counts as a Don Dokken album. I would’ve loved to have seen more of this band playing but sadly we didn’t get the chance. I would take this one over a lot of the Dokken stuff, but that is me.

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