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The Record Vault: Dokken – From Conception Live 1981

“From Conception: Live 1981” was released in 2007. It’s not on Spotify but YouTube has it.

Like all things Dokken, there is a lack of transparency.

The album is advertised as 1981, but the band for the recording is Don Dokken on vocals and Rhythm Guitars, George Lynch on guitars, Mick Brown on drums and Jeff Pilson on bass. But Jeff Pilson didn’t join the group until 1982. Juan Croucier from Ratt is the bass player prior to that.

Regardless of the story behind it, it’s one of Dokken’s best live albums and it is virtually ignored. Maybe because it came out in 2007 or maybe because it’s early Dokken, pre “Tooth And Nail”. I

t’s early Dokken. Even Don Dokken is playing guitar on stage and apart from rhythms, Lynch and Dokken are doing harmonies together.

Paris

It kicks off the show. The energy drips from the speakers. I feel like I’m at the show. Acts today will not know this, but back then, acts would live or die based on their live show.

Listening to “Paris” and it’s easy to hear why they got signed to Elektra Records.

Goin Down

I like the AC/DC and UFO groove.

In The Middle

The groove from the bass and drums gives Lynch and Dokken a chance to decorate and decorate they do.

Finally after three sings Don addresses the crowd and tells em to “make some noise” as they have the mobile set up outside and they are recording the show.

Young Girls

The L.A Sunset Strip riff kicks off “Young Girls”. Listen to Motley Crue and Ratt and you’ll know what I mean.

Hit And Run

It’s got a similar groove to “In The Middle”, just a bit faster. And lyrically it feels like a Saxon song about a soldier fighting.

Nightrider

The best song on the album. A speed metal song. It’s played that fast, it feels like a NWOBHM cut.

All the critics that called em a “poor man Scorpions” needs to listen to this version.

Check out the harmony guitar playing between Dokken and Lynch. I keep repeating the song just to hear it. And you’ll be surprised by Dokken’s prowess on the guitar.

And there is a sing-a-long with the audience, think “Running Free“ from “Live After Death” but this was recorded before.

GTR Solo

Then we get a 3 minutes of George Lynch shredding away.

Live To Ride

It’s fast and it gets me playing air guitar. It also reminds me of “Ace Of Spades”.

Breaking The Chains

Don mentions that the song is doing the rounds on MTV so I don’t think it’s a 1981 recording because of that.

It sounds heavy compared to the recorded version.

There’s a “thank you, good night” and the crowd screams “more” for 2 minutes

Liar

Speed metal and the lead break is electrifying.

“Beast From The East” is the Dokken live album and then there is “From Conception”.

Crank it.

And in the CD there was some promo about the upcoming new album and release of a classic VHS tape on DVD.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Hell To Pay

It probably didn’t make a big impression on me, because I forgot I had purchased it, so I purchased it again and now I have two CD’s.

The most dangerous job in the world at that point in time was the Dokken guitar player spot. After George Lynch, the band went through Reb Beach and John Norum.

For “Hell To Pay”, released in 2004, there was another newbie, Jon Levin on guitars.

Production was once again handled by Don Dokken.

The Last Goodbye

The song is written by Don Dokken, Mick Brown and Jon Levin, who quickly announces himself with a bone crunching riff inspired by “Kashmir” over a rock steady groove by Brown.

Dokken has been dabbling with exotic sounds on previous albums and that spirit has carried through on this.

Make sure you check out the lead break from Levin.

Don’t Bring Me Down

Written by Dokken, Barry Sparks and Levin.

It’s fast.

This is Levin’s statement.

That lead break.

Wow. Just listen to it.

And he did something on that lead break, not heard on a Dokken album, a harmony solo.

Escape

Another Dokken, Brown and Levin cut.

This one is like a dark rock song, almost alternative but still delivered with hooks from the 80s, something they copped shit for, but to me that’s what’s special about the album. Sounding current and modern with a sense of pop melody in the vocals.

Haunted

Another Dokken, Brown and Levin cut and one of my favourite Dokken cuts from this version of the band.

Levin goes a bit high octane bluesy in the lead break and I like it.

Prozac Nation

It’s written by Kelly Keeling, Dokken and Levin.

A familiar riff and vocal melody rule this song.

Levin goes all chromatic for his brief solo spot light.

Care For You

Written by Dokken and Keeling.

Yeah I didn’t care much about this song and I was disappointed when the bonus track was this song in an “unplugged” setting.

Better Off Before

Another Dokken, Brown and Levin cut.

A groove metal riff kicks it off, very Disturbed like.

Dokken is bringing his sense of melody to it and the 2004 version of the band is definitely rocking.

Still I’m Sad

No relation to the Rainbow song.

It’s a cut penned by Don.

It’s got groove and I like it’s three distinct parts, the clean tone verses, the distorted melodic pre chorus and the anthemic Chorus.

I Surrender

Again, no relation to the Rainbow song.

This one is also a penned by Don. It percolates with a hooky riff as Don builds it vocally.

The Chorus riff reminds me of “Unchain The Night” and I like it.

Levin is also channeling Neal Schon on the lead break.

Letter From Home

Written by Keeling, Levin and Dokken.

The band is channeling The Beatles and Led Zeppelin on this one.

The lead break from Levin is excellent. Very Jimmy Page like.

Can You See

A Dokken and Levin cut. it’s got that Dokken 80s spirit from “The Hunter” but Don’s voice is low, almost monotone like which was slowly becoming his style.

And Levin brings it again for the lead break.

If this is your first Dokken experience, there is enough here to get you interested to hear more.

If you grew up with Dokken in the 80s then this is a good listen.

C

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Long Way Home

Nothing is easy when it comes to Dokken.

At the peak of making it from a B level act to an A level act in the late 80’s, they broke up. Then they realised that they are better together than apart, so in the mid 90’s they gave us one of their best records in “Dysfunctional” and one of their worst in “Shadowlife”. Lynch was subsequently booted or he left, depending on whose story you believe, and Reb Beach was hired to “Erase The Slate” and kick start a new era for Dokken in 1999.

But that version of the band didn’t last long. Beach was out and Pilson went to court against Don Dokken over his actual departure and the dissolution of the partnership band agreement. Dictator Don was finally in full control of his name.

In 2002, “Long Way Home” was released. It is the only Dokken album to feature Europe guitarist John Norum, who also worked with Don on his solo project “Up From The Ashes” and the first to feature bassist Barry Sparks who had done time with Michael Schenker, UFO and Yngwie Malmsteen. This album also started a “sort of” trend on using song titles from earlier albums as album titles on future releases.

Production duties on the album were handled by Don Dokken.

“Sunless Days”

Looking at the credits, its written by Don Dokken, John Norum and Kelly Keeling.

Keeling had previously done work with Norum on one of his albums and was enlisted here to help write the album and do some vocal production duties. Also if you are a fan of Blue Murder, Keeling spent over 2 years with John Sykes on the “Nothing But Trouble” album, only to leave the band or be fired, on the day of the shoot for the “We All Fall Down” video.

A foot stomping riff, similar to “Change The World” from the “Erase The Slate” album kicks off this song. It’s a riff that Norum would tweak and use in “Start From The Dark” from Europe.

And this is the first album, when Don decided to keep his voice in the bass/lower baritone range.

“Little Girl”

Written by Dokken, Keeling and Mick Brown. Dokken was fascinated by adding sounds which I call, “The Beatles” sounds or the “Led Zep” sounds. This song is evidence of that fascination.

“Everybody Needs (To Be with Someone)”

A cut written by Dokken and Brown.

It has a vocal melody that is inspired by “Action” from Sweet. Instead of singing “everybody needs a piece of the action”, you just sing, “everybody needs to be with someone”.

“You”

Written by Dokken, Norum and Keeling, the heavy groove gets me interested.

“Goodbye My Friend”

A cut written by Don. It’s just an acoustic guitar and an excellent piano riff which sticks around after the song is finished because it mimics the vocal melody on occasion’s.

If anything, Don sounds very Eric Clapton’ish, like the Unplugged Clapton.

“Magic Road”

A Dokken and Norum cut.

One of my favourites.

Musically, Norum brings his love of 70’s classic rock to the song with his bluesy riffs. Something which he would also do with Europe, especially on the “War Of Kings” album.

“There Was a Time”

Its written by Dokken and Keeling. Another song with a strummed acoustic guitar, a simple drum beat and an catchy vocal melody.

“Heart Full of Soul”

An excellent cover from The Yardbirds.

“Under the Gun”

Written by Dokken, Norum and Keeling it’s a classic Dokken cut, with a feel and tempo like “Lightning Strikes Again”. Another favorite.

“I’ve Found”

Written by Dokken and Keeling. It’s another great track, just acoustic guitars and Beatles like vocal melodies.

If there is a fault on this album, it is the lack of opportunities Norum has to fly, because like most albums in the early 2000’s it suffered from a lack of lead guitar.

But it’s still a good listen and tracks like “Sunless Days” and “Under The Gun” could be in a best of set list.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Erase The Slate

Released in 1999.

The saboteur known as George Lynch was out, clearly because he was smoking something very different musically, because if you hear his attempt at a Lynch Mob record in the same year, called “Smoke This” it was clear he was not thinking clearly.

And sadly, it is the only Dokken studio album to feature Reb Beach, Lynch’s replacement and the last one to feature long time bassist Jeff Pilson. In other words, Dictator Don was taking control of the empire that carries his surname. Pilson even took Don to court over it.

In the same way that “Shadowlife” had all songs written by the band members, “Erase The Slate” has the same listing. Production is also carried out by the band members.

For Dokken to release this album in the major markets, they needed to have three labels in place. CMC International did the North American market, SPV/Steamhammer did the European market and Mercury did the Japanese market.

Compare that to today,

Record it and release it to streaming services within a week. There are no gatekeepers.

“Erase the Slate”

It’s fast, on par with “Tooth And Nail” and “Kiss Of Death” for great album openers.

Make sure you check out the lead break from Reb Beach.

“Change the World”

Another head banging riff to start the song.

The verses sound like “Empire” from Queensryche, as the bass and drums groove, while a clean tone guitar plays arpeggios, before it cranks in with a distorted riff. Think “Jet City Woman”.

“Maddest Hatter”

Stupid lyrics from Don, but then again, he’s never been known as a great lyricist. Musically, the song is excellent, full of great riffs and leads.

“Drown”

The doom and gloom does remind me of Alice In Chains musically, but the vocal melodies are straight from the 80’s hard rock scene.

“Shattered”

A great song. The riffs, the vocal melodies and the powerhouse drumming all connect. At first it reminded me of Lynch Mob, then Winger, then EVH, then Metallica. There is a lot happening.

“One”

A bad idea to cover Harry Nilsson. Then again, they had no management and had total control of their independence, so no one was there to question things.

“Who Believes”

Oasis brought back The Beatles in a big way and suddenly bands in the 90’s incorporated the Oasis/Beatles feel.

Make sure you check the solo out.

“Voice of the Soul”

The riff is excellent. Credit to Mr Pilson for it. And the chorus is addictive. Overall, the song reminds me of “Streets” and “Gutter Ballet” Savatage.

“Crazy Mary Goes Round”

These kind of lyrics in 1999 did nothing for me. Regardless Mick Brown takes the lead vocals here. Musically, it sounds like a Van Halen cut in the intro, with a late 60’s blues/rockabilly feel in the verses. If John Kalodner was in charge of the track list, this song wouldn’t make it.

“Haunted Lullaby”

Reb Beach plagiarises his Winger days and “It’s Not Love” for the riffs and I like it.

And Wild Mick Brown brings the power on this one.

Make sure you check out the head banging riff before the solo and then the solo itself. Afterwards hail at the altar of Mr Beach.

“In Your Honor”

An acoustic track, a ballad which follows that Oasis/The Beatles vibe.

The Japanese version has two bonus tracks in “Upon Your Lips” and “Sign of the Times”.

“Upon Your Lips”

It has this “Lights Out” from UFO feel. Make sure you check out the lead break.

“Sign Of The Times”

It’s like a ballad and it should not have been left off the main album. “In Your Honor” and “Who Believes” are very similar and one should have made way for this.

Dokken’s tour in support of the album was recorded and released in 2000 as “Live From The Sun”. I don’t have this album, but will review it as Beach does play a few Lynch tunes on it.

The next studio album “Long Way Home”, released in 2002, featured former Europe guitarist John Norum.

And here are some final words from Jeff Pilson.

“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.

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.”
Jeff Pilson

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Shadowlife

I was excited when I purchased this. A new Dokken album in 1997 with all the original members still on board. Who would have thought they survived the “Dysfunctional” album and tour?

“Dysfunctional” was an excellent return a few years before, and this album would put Dokken back onto the path of greatness. Just by looking at the song titles, my interest skyrocketed.

But.

I looked at the label logo and it wasn’t Columbia. John Kalodner had dropped the band. Instead, it was CMC.

CMC was a label that was signing hard rock and metal bands dropped from major labels. And they then tried to make these bands not sound like themselves by making em work with modern hip producers.

I pressed play.

I listened. I skipped tracks.

I got to the end.

I went and made a coffee.

I came back to the stereo.

I pressed play.

I listened more attentively.

I looked at the CD booklet, the lyrics, the production notes, the thank you.

I still skipped tracks.

I made another coffee.

I pressed play.

I tried to focus on what I would like. Like the guitar riffs.

“Puppet On A String”

The verse riff from Lynch is very Tool/Alice In Chains like with little hard rock fills here and there and I like it. But lyrically and vocally it’s uninspired.

“Cracks In The Ground”

It sounds like it could have come from the “Dysfunctional” album. It’s got that psychedelic Beatles like feel which they used in “The Maze”.

“Sky Beneath My Feet”

Listen to the Led Zep “Kashmir” influenced riffs in the verses. Or a song from The Cult’s “Sonic Temple” comes to mind. Regardless there are some cool musical moments here.

“Until I Know”

Feedback noise, a drum and bass groove and then lush acoustic strummed guitars come in.

Musically, the song is good, but like the previous songs, they all suffer from forgettable vocal melodies. Dio was also suffering the same pain with his “Angry Machines” album and many other acts during this time didn’t know what kind of melodies to write.

I always liked it when artists stuck to the hard rock vocal melodies and intertwine them with the more current sounding music.

Wild Mick doing his bit for the Cancer Council.

“Hello”

This one is a good example of sticking with hard rock vocal melodies and intertwining them with the industrial sounding music. But then, they put a loudspeaker effect on Don’s voice and it all goes to hell.

They should have kept him in clean tone.

“Convenience Store Messiah”

A forgettable acoustic track.

“I Feel”

It sounds like a D grade Collective Soul cut, musically.

“Here I Stand”

The intro riff is classic Dokken and lead vocals are performed by Jeff Pilson who was already involved on a confusing album with Dio on “Angry Machines”.

“Hard To Believe”

It’s a ballad and Lynch tries really hard to not play anything clichéd. His chord selections and voicings are so far removed from his well-known power chord to devils tritone.

It really is hard to believe that this is Dokken.

“Sweet Life”

It’s got a blues rock swinging groove.

Make sure you check out the riff after the Chorus.

Then the middle section feels like a Wild West stand-off is taking place musically before it moves back to the blues rock swinging groove.

And the song ends just after 4 minutes with no guitar solo.

From the double CD One Live Night and Shadowlife

“Bitter Regret”

The acoustic riff is worthy of attention.

“I Don’t Mind”

I still skip it.

Also from the double CD

“Until I Know (Slight Return)”

It’s an instrumental blues jam and I like it. But its short and maybe it should have stayed with the original track instead of separating the two parts.

Overall there wasn’t enough quality here, nor was there a killer song to sell it and as a fan of George Lynch, it’s a shame that this is his last full studio album with the band.

Throughout the album, I was saying, “are these the same members that delivered songs like “Kiss Of Death”, “Prisoner”, “Too High To Fly”, “In My Dreams”, “Lightning Strikes Again” and etc.

It is Dokken’s worst album by far, but then again, experimental albums rarely set the world on fire. Queen seemed to have a knack at being successful with it, because they always had a song on the album which was catchy and would become a hit or a fan favourite.

And some quotes from the members.

“Well, the change in sound was due to the fact that the world had changed so much and it was us trying to adapt.

We had been listening to a lot of TOOL records at that point. Plus the producer, Kelly Gray, was very much from the whole Seattle world — not into the melodic rock world, really.

So how I look back on that record is that there were some nice moments, but overall, just not an inspired piece of work.”
Jeff Pilson

“I was very disappointed with “Shadowlife”. When we went into “Shadowlife”, George was into Monster Magnet, Tool and stuff like that. I listened to the songs he had written and I’m like, “George, we’re not Tool! We’re not detuned! We’re not Monster Magnet, I just don’t get it!”

I hated that album so much that I didn’t allow them to put my Dokken logo on that record. That’s the only Dokken record where there’s not a Dokken logo on it. It’s just has a typical font.

To put it into perspective, ‘Dysfunctional’ sold 450,000 copies after it’s cycle, when we released ‘Shadowlife’ it sold 50,000 copies.”
Don Dokken

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The Record Vault: Dokken – One Live Night

What do you do when you want to do an “unplugged” album but MTV doesn’t care for you?

In Dokken’s case, it’s simple.

Do a few unplugged shows, record em and release it. Now this CD was originally released for the Japanese market. It was successful there and it got an international release in 1995.

My CD version is a double and it was released in 1999 in Australia with the album “Shadowlife” attached to it.

But this review will be solely for the “One Live Night” album. “Shadowlife” is up next.

In the CD booklet, you open it up and see the cover to the Shadowlife album and lyrics to the live Album. It’s bizarre to say the least and I already had the “Shadowlife” album purchased separately.

Now it’s not all unplugged as Lynch does plug in for his solos.

Into the Fire

No one in the audience had any idea that the opening song was “Into The Fire” based on the opening strummed chords.

But when the arpeggios started, it was recognizable and the audience was on board.

I wasn’t sold on the plugged in lead break. I wanted Lynch to recreate a lead suitable for an unplugged setting.

“Who would have thought?”, said Don Dokken at the end of the song.

Yes, who would have thought.

Unchain The Night

Great song all round.

The Intro is excellent and I like the sinister acoustic verse riff.

But…

The electric leads over the verse riff detract instead of enhancing.

How powerful does the Chorus sound in this setting?

And the outro.

They are strumming Em to D to C and back to D and the vocal melody is hooky. The electric guitar comes in for the outro lead and it works. It’s restrained, but I still would have preferred an acoustic lead.

The Maze

Don introduces this song as one that Mr John Kalodner selected. For those that don’t know, Kalodner knew how to spot a hit.

But the 90s era was a different beast to the 80s era and a hit was harder to find especially when every promotion avenue ignored bands like Dokken.

Nothing Left To Say

Like the album version and Lynch delivers an acoustic lead like the album.

Perfect.

From The Beginning

The ELP cover works well here.

Tooth And Nail

They’ve rearranged it into a blues rock tune, almost Bad Company like with Wild Mick Brown on vocals who sounds like Jon Oliva from Savatage.

And it works.

But… why the lyric lead. An acoustic lead would have served this rendition well.

Just Got Lucky

You get to hear how poppy the Chorus vocal melody is in this setting.

I Will Remember

An instrumental from Lynch’s solo album “Sacred Groove”. It’s like a ballad with a lot of melodies and some super fast shred. A nice intermission.

Alone Again

How do you get the wall of electric sounds to sound so serene and haunting without losing the essence of the song?

They got it right on this one.

I like how the piano is the dominant instrument this time around. When you go unplugged, you need to be creative.

In My Dreams

This song works in any setting. The melodies are that anthemic it doesn’t matter if there distortion or acoustics.

Nowhere Man

I would have preferred a few Dokken cuts but everyone was trying to see if they could have a hit like Tesla and “Signs”.

It’s Not Love

It’s got that blues rock 70s vibe in the Intro. And the crowd has no idea the song title.

Then someone (I think its Mick Brown) yells 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the riff starts.

A perfect closer.

And no songs from “Back For The Attack” are on it. I guess they have their reasons.

This is the sound of Dokken fighting tooth and nail to stay alive in a hostile market place.

Crank it.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Dysfunctional

In 1992, three years prior to the release of “Dysfunctional”, George Lynch was still appearing in the Guitar mags I purchased like Guitar World, Guitar One and Guitar School.

But in 1995, he was nowhere to be seen. The album came out and there was nothing.

That’s how quickly the mags replaced Mr Scary with the dudes from Counting Crows, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Dave Matthews Band, Oasis, Rage Against The Machine and others.

I have a motto in life. To take care of what brings in my bread and butter. Anything else that I would want to do after, will be a spin-off from that.

And it looks like the guys in Dokken had a similar motto. Let’s focus on what brings in our bread and butter first.

But before we get to the album, you need to understand these guys.

The “Dysfunctional” album was pretty much written before George Lynch joined the project. Even George Lynch stated the same in an interview on the Guitar International website.

“Most of this record, “Dysfunctional”, was finished by the time I got there. In fact, everything but the guitar parts were pretty much done.

Everybody in management and in the band kept feeding me these horror stories of who they would get to replace me if I didn’t come back – you can guess the names.

Well, when I listened to the tracks, I could tell that Jeff [Pilson, bass] and Don [Dokken, vocals] had written a lot of the songs with me in mind. I mean, there were parts in certain songs that I had done on other Dokken records – and even Lynch Mob records- years ago.”

However Don Dokken has said that the album is written solely by him;

“Dysfunctional was a great album. I mean they (Lynch and Pilson) had nothing to do with that album. I wrote that album by myself. There wasn’t a George, Jeff, Mick effort. They joined Dokken at the last minute. And I basically wrote it, produced it.”

Don Dokken further described his experience in the following way;

“I felt guilty for bringing George back into the band for “Dysfunctional” & the money & the big record deal & I was just miserable & he was miserable, he made all of us miserable, it was just a very un-happy band”

In a separate interview on the Legendary Rock Interview website, Don Dokken further added the following;

I remember when we got back together in 95, we were in Japan and I thought we were older, wiser and could get on with our careers but the same old shit was happening, he was playing behind his amps and just screwing around and the band was just not playing good in general.

I asked George flat-out “What can I do to make you happy? What is the problem that you just can’t seem to get on board no matter how well things are going?” and I will never forget it, he just looked at me and pointed his hand up to our backdrop, this 30 foot backdrop that said “Dokken” and he said, “That’s the problem””.

This is the way George Lynch described the “Dysfunctional” reunion;

“There is a huge market for the band, mostly overseas, and since things collapsed over at Elektra, I needed to keep my options open if I still want to have my solo career. That was one of the things that brought me back into the band. It was kind of like, ‘You do this deal with Dokken for two records, and you can still go out and do solo records at the same time.’ In fact, I was told that I’d be in a better position to do solo stuff. John Kalodner [Columbia’s A&R chief] is passionate about Dokken, but he also told me that he wants us on Columbia. That aspect of the relationship makes me pretty happy.”

Dokken in 1995 was not an arena act.

Whether they wanted to be together or not, it didn’t matter to me as they delivered a great rock album worthy of being called a classic Dokken record.

Inside Looking Out

There was no escaping the influence of the Metallica self titled album, Soundgarden and “A Vulgar Display Of Power” from Pantera.

Those grooves became the norm. And when they got merged with the riff from Mr Scary, well that’s “Inside Looking Out” in a nutshell.

Hole In My Head

It sounds exotic, almost 70s like with a verse riff that Zakk would use for Ozzy.

Check out the lead breaks from Lynch.

The Maze

It’s like ELO merged with The Beatles.

Too High To Fly

It’s like a blues jam session and someone decided to press record.

Then when it starts to build from the 38 second mark, it’s desk breaking, head banging time.

And how good are the verses?

The bass and drums play, while Don sings and Lynch comes in when Don stops. Brilliant.

It reminds me of “Lost Behind A Wall” which then reminds me of “Turbo Lover”.

Nothing Left To Say

This is a great song. A hit. Better than acoustic songs like “More Than Words” or “To Be With You”.

The acoustic guitar solo is not long enough.

Shadows Of Life

What a riff and drum groove to start the song?

This is classic Dokken, but down tuned and heavy and how good are those backing vocals in the Chorus.

Long Way Home

It’s the Mr Scary riff again.

Check out the lead break from Lynch.

But my favorite section is that bridge section after the Chrous. It’s very Queensryche like.

And that head banging riff from 3.55. Tool would build a career on riffs like this.

Sweet Chains

It’s like the “Dream Warriors” intro merged with “Tangled In The Web”.

Lesser Of Two Evils

What’s this.

Lynch channeling EVH.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What Price

It’s hard to describe this one. So I skip it.

From The Beginning

A great cover from ELP.

After 56 minutes, I pressed play again.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Beast From The East

“The thing I will never understand about the management and that tour and the band was that in their insane thinking, the management called a meeting before the tour started and informed the band that Don was gonna be breaking the band up and trying to just hire us as musicians on the band.

Or else, if that didn’t work, we didn’t agree to that, he was just gonna leave, keep the name and kick us out. Before the tour started — literally days before it started.”

George Lynch

The band was unraveling. I was happy to be out there on that stadium tour, but I was totally depressed. I was just miserable. To see your guitar player on stage in front of 100,000 people walk behind his amplifier in the middle of the solo and snort coke, I mean, fuck, man. It drove me crazy. So, that just broke us up. That’s the way it goes. Shit happens.

Don Dokken at Songfacts

Somewhere in between, the truth is there.

And drugs or no drugs, this album known as the “Beast From The East” captures a band at the peak of their creativity and mastery of their instruments in 1988.

Unchain The Night

It was a weird choice to open with, especially when the album they were promoting, opened with “Kiss Of Death”.

But.

It was perfect.

After the taped (I think) Intro plays, the band kicks in and all hell is breaking loose. And my speakers are rumbling, because the guitar tone from Lynch is excellent.

Don is sounding good. And I’ve heard the vocals got juiced up later on by Michael Wagener, but hey it still sounds live and I’m all in.

And I still go nuts for the Chorus after the solo. Then there is another solo from Lynch and the Chorus comes back in again.

Tooth And Nail

They play it even faster and I didn’t think it was possible to chuck in fills during the verses at that speed, but Lynch delivers while Pilson and Brown keep it grounded and rocking.

Dream Warriors

The clean tone in the verses. Check it out.

Kiss Of Death

It’s faster than the studio and I like it.

And the solo break. I can listen to it all day long and play air guitar to it.

When Heaven Comes Down

I didn’t expect this to resonate as good as it did.

How heavy does that Intro/Chorus riff sound?

And I still go nuts over the mood they set, with the guitar riff and drum build up just before the solo.

Into The Fire

The clean tone sections sound wicked because Lynch puts bends and legato into his arpeggios.

And I like how the outro is loaded with guitar leads.

Mr Scary

Pilson and Brown need a special mention here for holding down the fort. Great playing. And of course, Lynch excels, coked up or not.

Heaven Sent

I love the bluesy swagger of this one.

The way it starts off with the crowd participation and just high hats, then the clean tone riff and then the beat.

It sounds great on the album and great live especially the improvised lead break. It’s fast and furious and scary.

It’s Not Love

They jam it, they get the crowd to sing along with em and I’m singing along with em as well.

Alone Again

I like how the little Intro flows, it throws a curve ball. Your thinking, is it “Alone Again” or not.

And then it begins.

By the end of it, everyone is singing “alone again without you”.

Just Got Lucky

It sounds full of energy.

Breaking The Chains

I’ve always liked the main riff and there’s no way you can’t enjoy it live.

In My Dreams

It’s powerful live. A great closer.

And I like how they jam out the ending.

Walk Away

The final studio cut.

A fitting title to signal the end of the 80s Dokken era. As the outro played, I didn’t want it to fade out.

By the end of it, the “Beast From The East” (the album, not the recent European snow storm) cemented itself as one of my top 5 live releases behind “Live After Death” and “Tribute”.

And of course, I got in on vinyl first. Then on CD. And then again on CD as part of a box set.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Back For The Attack

Released in November 1987 on Elektra Records. By January 1988, it was certified Gold and Platinum. Then again, everything released in 1987 was certified platinum in 1988.

And they had momentum.

The single “Dream Warriors” was released in February 1987 as the theme song for the horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”. The single was still selling and video was still doing the MTV rounds when the album was released.

The title of the album comes from the song “Back for the Attack”, which was recorded during the sessions for “Under Lock and Key” in 1985 and released as the B-side to “Dream Warriors”.

Dokken is Don Dokken on vocals. George Lynch on guitars, Jeff Pilson on bass and Mick Brown on drums. And Jeff Pilson again has a hand in every song.

KISS OF DEATH

As soon as the opening notes are played I was hooked. The riffs in this song are aggressive and very thrash like.

How good are the pinch harmonics in the verse riff?

For the solo, Lynch did numerous takes however they ended up using his first take as it was the best and the most emotive. And if there was any question about his prowess, listen to this.

It’s basically one of the best metal songs ever made.

PRISONER

Melodic anthemic heavy rock at its best with a cheesy chorus about being a prisoner, chained by love.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s one of my favorite cuts.

And check out the leads from Lynch in the Intro/Chorus and his normal solo break.

NIGHT BY NIGHT

a strange mix of hard, heavy, melodic, and dark alike, and stands as one of the strongest cuts featured here as a result.

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS

It’s very AC/DC-esque.

HEAVEN SENT

It’s bluesy and I like it.

Make sure you check out the lead break.

MR. SCARY

It’s known as the instrumental which showcases George Lynch, but it also showcases Jeff Pilson as a very capable bassist.

How heavy is the Intro/Main riff?

SO MANY TEARS

It’s got this Tom Petty vibe in the Intro/Chorus riff, before the normal power chord to flat 5 riff kicks in.

BURNING LIKE A FLAME

Musically they are trying to write their own “Summer Of 69” but…

LOST BEHIND A WALL

One of my favorites.

I feel like “Turbo Lover” inspired the Intro and verses.

It’s just bass and drums, then the vocals and then the guitars crash in.

Listen to it cranked.

STOP FIGHTING LOVE

Another melodic rock classic, hidden deep in the album.

The Chorus riff is a great example of metal like riffing in a pop song setting.

CRY OF THE GYPSY

Check out the rhythm and lead work on this one?

It’s basically what Lynch Mob would sound like in a few years time. Actually am I allowed to write that name these days.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

Too many songs with similar themes like this. “Sleepless Nights”, “Up All Night”, you get the idea. Cliched yes, but Lynch does his best to shred all over it.

DREAM WARRIORS

The movie company wanted us to write a song that they had already decided would be called “Dream Warriors” [for the 1987 film A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors]. So, it wasn’t like we came up with it. They said, “Can you write a song with the title ‘Dream Warriors’?”

And again, Jeff, Mick, and George wrote a version, and I wrote a version by myself. Mine was more uptempo, more of a rock song.

So, I wrote a version, they wrote a version. It’s kind of funny. They said, “We actually like your version better Don, but we’re going to use our part.” [Laughs] It was just ego – there was a lot of ego in my band in the ’80s.

Don Dokken – Songfacts

The Intro. How good is it?

The lead break is excellent and how good is the riff in the verse after it.

And of course, I purchased it on CD as well via the box set that mimicked the vinyls.

Finally, this Guitar World issue with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee on the cover introduced the new Dokken album.

Check out Lifeson. So 80s and so not flattering.

And why not.. A photo of some of his iconic guitars.
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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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