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

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 – 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 – 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 – 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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Music, My Stories

Dokken 2016

It’s October 1989 and the issue of “Guitar World” hits the newsstands. It was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol” and right next to Stevens was a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”.

Hard rock and metal was a commercial behemoth in the 80’s and in a lot of the bands that tasted “success”, you always had a guitarist that could have, should have, would have, stolen the spotlight from the lead singer. So it was no surprise towards the end of the Eighties, those guitarists actually breaking free from the band and going out on their own or via a new band where they are the band leader.

Think Jake E. Lee, Steve Vai, George Lynch, Steve Stevens, Zakk Wylde and Slash all going their own ways.

But this post is about Dokken, a very talented band mired in chaos and resentment. The fact that Don Dokken got a record deal under his own name via songs written by George Lynch and Mick Brown was enough of an earthquake to shake the foundations.

So when a band from this era gets back together for the money, what should we expect?

As Don Dokken puts it;

“I approached George and Jeff, and I said, ‘You guys wanna make a s—load of money for about one week of work?’ And I told them the price, and I told them how much I wanted and how much they’d make, and, basically, they could make more money in one week than they’d probably make in several years. And so everybody said, ‘Okay,’”. So I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it on the condition that I don’t wanna do it in America or Europe or anywhere else. Just six shows in Japan.’ ‘Cause we were very big in Japan, and it’s just a reunion tour. So they agreed, and we’re gonna do six shows in Japan.”

25 plus years from 1989, one thing is certain; the sound and the songs do not remain the same. I for one would pay to see the band live if they came to Australia, however it would be for nostalgic reasons more than anything.

The last time the members of the classic 1980s lineup got together was for on November 29, 2009 at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California for a two-song encore of “When Heaven Comes Down” and “In My Dreams”. Reunion talks happened and went.

A recent set list from Lynch Mob show attended by 200 fans, shows that George Lynch should be in fine form to play the songs.

Included in the 12 song Lynch Mob set are “When Heaven Comes Down”, “Into the Fire”, “The Hunter”, “Mr. Scary” and “Tooth and Nail” from Lynch’s Dokken days. Would “Mr Scary” make an appearance in a Dokken concert in 2016. Even Don Dokken had a dig at the Lynch Mob “bar gigs”.

“I feel bad for my agents, ’cause they’re getting bombarded from these offers for us to play these big festivals all over the world as a reunion, but I’m just not interested. I’m sorry, I’m just not. Jeff’s busy. He plays like crazy in Foreigner. He’s on the road. George is out, you know, playing the bars with Lynch Mob, so everybody’s busy.”

I am just picturing Lynch asking Dokken why he said what he said before the first show of the reunion. Because if you believe what Jeff Pilson said on Mitch Lafon’s podcast, there should be no more digs at each other;

“We’re actually working really hard to try and pull something together right now. It has to fall in spaces where there is time off [from my gig with FOREIGNER], so I don’t know for sure whether it’s gonna happen. So let’s just say we’re all friendly now, we’re all past all the decades-old crap, and we all talk and everything’s great. Now it really is just down to scheduling and trying to figure it out. Because, you know, you’ve gotta do it right, if you’re gonna do it. We all feel that way.”

Guess Don Dokken has gotten over the decades old crap.

Is the drama of Dokken worth it?

A Japanese promoter believes so. But being huge back in the 80’s doesn’t mean you are still huge right now because bands need to replenish their fan base with the younger generations.

Has Dokken done enough to replenish its 80’s fanbase with kids born in the Nineties and Two Thousands?

Is it about the fans or more about the payday?

So many questions, yet so few answers. One thing is certain, expect to hear more Dokken stories as the shows get closer.

Pilson is already talking about a musical track that he and Lynch wrote and sent to Don for lyrics and vocal melodies. If Don, doesn’t complete it, would there be resentment?

For me, Dokken holds a special place and the fact that on their day they could be one of the heaviest speed metal bands around (think “Tooth and Nail”, “Turn On The Action”, “Lightning Strikes Again”, “Kiss Of Death”, etc…) or the most melodic poppy metal band out there with “In My Dreams”, “Just Got Lucky”, “Alone Again”, “Into The Fire”, “Heaven Sent”, etc.. is brilliant.

I suppose we all should get ready for Dokken 2016 and the stories the reunion would bring to our lives.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Dysfunctional Stories From The World Of Dokken

By 1995, the recording industry had undergone a lot of change. The flavour of bands shifted from hard rock to grunge, alternative and industrial. Guitar slingers like George Lynch suddenly were marketed as not cool to any new listeners.

The band Dokken was like a beacon of light, a stability that George Lynch needed to return to. I am a great believer in focusing on what brings in the money first and anything else that I would want to do will be a spin-off from that. For George Lynch in 1995, the band Dokken provided that opportunity to him.

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.” As far as ’97’s experimental “Shadowlife,” produced by Kelly Gray, known for his work with ’90s rockers Candlebox, Don considers that album Lynch and Pilson’s “bastard child.” He felt the band was trying to follow trends instead of being themselves.”

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 & I don’t want to talk too much about him, you’ve got to meet him to understand, he’s just very dark…he has that look in his eyes & you never know who he’s gonna be, sometimes he’s hi, how are you & then sometimes he’ll walk on the bus & he has that dark look in his eye. Anger & I can’t be around that stuff”

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

“A lot of bands, there is one guy who sort of determines a lot of the direction, whether it’s the singer or the songwriter and things just work out, but with us it was just this continual power struggle between George and I that we never got over.  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”.   I just said, “Well, I can’t do anything about the name of the band George”.  I will never forget that moment.  I think maybe if the band had been called something else we could have survived.  I’m not a psychiatrist you know but for some reason that was a major part of the problem in his head.  I guess he thought that the more everybody tried hard in the band the more I somehow got all of the credit.”

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

“I never expected to be back with Dokken, and I know I said that a lot of times. But I have to be realistic about my situation. 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.”

Lynch obviously didn’t want to be in this situation either;

“I mean, yeah, it would have been great if The Lynch Mob could have sold more records, but there were problems in that band, too. I was leading the group, yet certain people felt they were entitled to more money or more perks than I could give them. They thought I had an endless supply of cash and resources. What it came down to was, I told them if they wanted to get rich and famous from a gig, they should go call Michael Jackson. With Dokken, at least I don’t have to be the one paying everyone’s per diem and cleaning bills.”

Dokken in 1995 was not an arena act. According to George Lynch, they had done “small, B-level clubs on the first leg of this tour, and the response has been really good. I’m kind of surprised. Japan and Europe were obviously good – the acoustic record [not available in the U.S.] has already sold nearly 100,000 copies overseas.”

If you want to read a review of the album that I totally agree with, go and check out the review over at mikeladano.com.

 

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

George Lynch and Don Dokken

The history of George Lynch is a complex one to say the least. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band at the same time as Randy Rhoads did. Once Randy got the gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig. He auditioned again after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads and this time he lost out to Jake E.Lee.

And then Dokken broke through with “Tooth And Nail”. They continued that momentum with “Under Lock And Key” and “Back For The Attack”.

And then it was over. Don Dokken said that it was the ego of George Lynch that broke up Dokken. Ego is a very ambiguous word to use. Ego means a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, so I can’t see how if a person has a high self-esteem it can be seen as a negative or bad enough to break up a band.

What we do know is that Don Dokken was the one that got the original recording deal with Elektra Records. He got that recording deal based on songs that George Lynch and Mick Brown had written in their earlier bands.

This is the way Mick Brown told it:

“He took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” but he did anyway.”

And this is the way Don Dokken told it:

“When I went to Germany to get the record deal, they wanted to sign me as a solo artist. The original album, Breaking The Chains originally came out in Europe and the band was called was called Don Dokken. It was pretty rare. There were 500 copies of it that said “Don” on the cover. So when we got the band together, I just dropped the “Don” and we became Dokken.”

INSERT: Disagreement Number one.

The label then would not give any extra shares to George Lynch or Mick Brown, so the monies came from Don Dokken’s slice of the pie which was already pretty shitty and that pie got diminished even further when Jeff Pilson joined. This battle for an equal split proved to be a source of animosity.

INSERT: Disagreement Number two.

Remember Vivian Campbell. He was livid that he didn’t get an equal split from Dio. Randy Rhoads confronted Ozzy about the “Blizzard Of Ozz” band and why the album was going to be marketed as Ozzy Osbourne’s solos act.

However the most stupid thing any band could do is split up at their commercial peak.

On a press tour for the “Back For The Attack” Don Dokken said the following about George Lynch:

“I don’t dig him and he don’t dig me. But we respect each other as musicians. He can be a total jerk, but I’m not that easy to get along with either.”

Dokken (the band) at the time of the split were ready to re-negotiate their deal. They had the leverage and the sales on the board. They had Q-Prime Management on board. According to Lynch, Don Dokken didn’t want to share any new deal. He saw it as his band, with his name on it and any new deal would involve Don Dokken only with the remaining band members reduced to hired guns.

According to Lynch, Dokken told the band the following:

“I’m gonna try to take the whole thing and run with it, and you guys are gonna get left in the dust, and if you’re lucky, I might hire you.”

In the end, the band split. George Lynch and Mick Brown got a deal with Elektra Records while Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and eventually signed a deal with them. Jeff Pilson, who was in my mind the better songwriter got going with various other creative outlets. According to Pilson, the band had a lot of egos and it was those egos that got in the way.

“It wasn’t really that different from other bands with the exception that we aired our dirty laundry in public.”

That is true.

After the split, the bickering didn’t end there.

In 1990, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown went to court to stop Don Dokken from using his surname for any new solo band. They heard that Don Dokken was planning to release his first solo album as Dokken II. This didn’t sit well with them and they went to court to get an injunction to stop Don Dokken from using the name Dokken or Dokken II.

However, what Lynch and Dokken did was shoot each other in the foot. A good vocalist will always need a good guitarist and a good guitarist will always need a good vocalist. This is the secret of a lot of the bands successes. Vivian Campbell had Ronnie James Dio. George Lynch had Don Dokken. John Sykes had David Coverdale. Jimmy Page had Robert Plant. Paul Kossoff had Paul Rodgers. Mick Ralphs had Paul Rodgers.

And being in a band is not a guarantee. In the October 1989 issue of Guitar World it was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol”. There was also a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”. Jake E.Lee was also featured talking about Badlands and life after Ozzy.

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