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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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