Dokken are a melodic metal band, hailing from the LA scene in California, USA. Don Dokken started the band as early as 1978, and had their first single out the following year. The group accumulated numerous charting singles and has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.

BREAKING THE CHAINS (1983) ELEKTRA 

  1. Breaking The Chains
  2. In The Middle
  3. Felony
  4. I Can't See You
  5. Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
  6. Nightrider
  7. Seven Thunders
  8. Young Girls
  9. Stick To Your Guns
  10. Paris Is Burning (Live)

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Lead Vocals, Guitar

George Lynch - Lead Guitar

Juan Croucier - Bass, Vocals

Mick Brown - Drum

 

Track 10 was recorded in Berlin, December, 1982

Like many contemporary hard rock and metal artist, Dokken started their career by recording and releasing a demo in 1980. However, prior to that, the first incarnation of the band released a 7" single in 1979. Soon the band was signed to the French Carrere label, as label mates to Saxon, Demon and Boney M! There are some confusing info about the bands debut album out there. I know it was first released under the Don Dokken moniker in 1981, on the mentioned Carrere label (see picture above, right). This version has a slightly different mix, and versions of songs. But I have no idea what the line-up was on this release. There is also a vinyl version (pictured next to the line-up), with different artwork then the CD version Elektra released in 1983. This version was also released on Carrere in 1982, with the titled spelled 'Breakin' The Chains'. The front of the cover shows the Dokken logo, but the spine of the sleeve stated Don Dokken as the artist. (thanks to Bill for the info)

Anyhow, 'Breaking The Chains' is raw and rowdy early 80's metal. Nowadays one might label it hard rock, but back then this was heavy metal. The songs are mostly 3 minute mid- to up-tempo rockers, without much variation. The title track is a bonafide classic (it was named the 62nd best hard rock song of all time by VH1), and sat a standard for the Dokken sound. George's dazzling guitar-work, combined with Don's harmonized vocals was to become their trademark sound. Dokken was there when the Sunset Strip scene was erupting, thus becoming a huge part of that scene's "upbringing". And 'Breaking The Chains' was one of the arrow points of the early days of this movement. Forget that it was later to be known as the hair metal scene, because back then we loved everything that sounded heavy. And 'Breaking The Chains' had memorable songs, and a guitar hero to boot! The production is a bit thin by today's standards. But one have to remember that it was originally recorded in 1981 (although this 1983 Elektra reissue is said to have been remixed and remastered). The album reached number 136 on the Billboard 200.

Killer tracks: Breaking The Chains, In The Middle, Nightrider, Seven Thunders, Paris Is Burning
 

TOOTH AND NAIL (1984) ELEKTRA

  1. Without Warning - intro
  2. Tooth And Nail
  3. Just Got Lucky
  4. Heartless Heart
  5. Don't Close Your Eyes
  6. When Heaven Comes Home
  7. Into The Fire
  8. Bullets To Spare
  9. Alone Again
  10. Turn On The Action

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Vocals

George Lynch - Guitars

Jeff Pilson - Bass, Vocals

Mick Brown - Drums

'Tooth And Nail' pretty much follows up where 'Breaking The Chains' ended. Jeff Pilson replaced Juan Croucier (who left to join Ratt) on bass, and the classic line-up of Dokken was born. Although it is looked upon as a classic album, I don't like 'Tooth And Nail' as much as their later records. It does include some great classic tracks, and it is definitely one of the most raw-sounding Dokken albums, but the overall feeling doesn't do much for me. I dunno, it just sounds a bit outdated. Gotta love the drum-sound though! VERY 80's!

Killer tracks: Tooth And Nail, Into The Fire, Alone Again, 

UNDER LOCK AND KEY (1985) ELEKTRA

  1. Unchain The Night
  2. The Hunter
  3. In My Dreams
  4. Slippin' Away
  5. Lightnin' Strikes Again
  6. It's Not Love
  7. Jaded Heart
  8. Don't Lie To Me
  9. Will The Sun Rise
  10. Til The Livin' End

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Lead Vocals

George Lynch - Guitars

Jeff Pilson - Bass, Background Vocals

Mick Brown - Drums, Background Vocals

Dokken's third album is in my opinion their best. It was the first one I heard, and I like it as much today as I did back then. Catchy melodies that's easily remembered. Dokken play what is known as pop-metal or hair-metal, and they do it well. These guys had much success with this album, and "In My Dreams" got heavily played on MTV.

Killer tracks: Unchain The Night, In My Dreams, It's Not Love

BEAST FROM THE EAST (1988) ELEKTRA

  1. Unchain The Night
  2. Tooth And Nail
  3. Dream Warriors
  4. Kiss Of Death
  5. When Heaven Comes Down
  6. Into The Fire
  7. Mr. Scary - instrumental
  8. Heaven Sent
  9. It's Not Love
  10. Alone Again
  11. Just Got Lucky
  12. Breaking The Chains
  13. In My Dreams
  14. Walk Away

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Lead Vocals

George Lynch - Guitars

Jeff Pilson - Bass, Background Vocals, Keyboards

Mick Brown - Drums, Background Vocals

At the height of their career, Dokken released their first live album. Now, this band is not famous for being the greatest live act around, and it has certainly not helped over the years. Don's voice in particular has gained a reputation for being less then mediocre on a stage. But I must say that this live CD sounds pretty good. And if for nothing else, this also works well as a greatest hits package. You're not much of a Dokken fan if you don't love the majority of songs presented here. And no one can tell me that the band does not sound tight here. 'Beast From The East' might not be the best live effort released, but it shows the band as they were back in 1988.

I've later found out that all of the guitar-solos on this album were re-recorded in a studio. So it turns out that 'Beast From The East' is yet another live album that isn't exactly live.

DYSFUNCTIONAL (1995) COLUMBIA

  1. Inside Looking Out
  2. Hole In My Head
  3. The Maze
  4. Too High To Fly
  5. Nothing Left To Say
  6. Shadows Of Life
  7. Long Way Home
  8. Sweet Chains
  9. Lesser Of Two Evils
  10. What Price
  11. From The Beginning

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Vocals

George Lynch - Guitars

Jeff Pilson - Bass and Vocals

Mick Brown - Drums and Vocals

 

This was supposed to be Don Dokken's solo-album #2, but as usual the record-company wanted it differently. So the regular line-up of melodic rockers went into the studio and re-recorded 'Dysfunctional'. And I must say I'm pleased with the result. One can only guess, of course, what some of these songs would have sounded like if John Norum and Mikkey Dee would have played on them instead of Lynch and Brown. However, this is just meaningless speculations. To me this albums stands out as another good Dokken album, and the band does not show signs of the bad turns to follow (read: 'Shadowlife'). If you are into this band, you won't be disappointed. "From The Beginning" is a cover of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer song.

Killer tracks: Inside Looking Out, Too High To Fly, What Price

Rock trivia: A fun little thing about this album, is that 2 of the song titles later became album titles. "Shadows Of Life" became 'Shadowlife', and "Long Way Home" is also the title of Dokken's 2002 release.

SHADOWLIFE (1997) CMC INTERNATIONAL

  1. Puppet On A String
  2. Cracks In The Ground
  3. Sky Beneath My Feat
  4. Until I Know
  5. Hello
  6. Convenience Store Messiah
  7. I Feel
  8. Here I Stand
  9. Hard To Believe
  10. Sweet Life
  11. Bitter Regret
  12. I Don't Mind
  13. Until I Know (Slight Return)
  14. How Many Lives
  15. Deep Waters

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Vocals

George Lynch - Guitars

Jeff Pilson - Bass and Vocals

Mick Brown - Drums, Percussion and Vocals

This album is Dokken experimenting with more modern sounds, and it doesn't work that well. I haven't listened to the album much, 'cause I didn't feel like giving it another spin after hearing it once. No song stand out. I'll give it some more play and see what happens, but for now it is one of the most boring CD's in my collection.

Killer tracks: ?

THE VERY BEST OF DOKKEN (1999) ELEKTRA/RHINO

  1. Breaking The Chains
  2. Paris Is Burning (Live in Europe, 1982)
  3. Into The Fire
  4. Just Got Lucky
  5. Alone Again
  6. Tooth And Nail
  7. The Hunter
  8. In My Dreams
  9. It's Not Love
  10. Dream Warriors
  11. Burning Like A Flame
  12. Heaven Sent
  13. Mr. Scary
  14. Mirror Mirror - Don Dokken
  15. Too High To Fly

There is nothing new on this compilation, but I still like this release. It has some cool liner-notes, including both the band history, and comments to each song. The tracks are in chronological order, and span form 'Breaking The Chains' up to 'Dysfunctional'. The only odd thing, is the track from Don Dokken's solo-release. A great retrospective overview on one of the best 80's hair-metal bands.

ERASE THE SLATE (1999) SPV/STEAMHAMMER

  1. Erase The Slate
  2. Change The World
  3. Maddest Hatter
  4. Drown
  5. Shattered
  6. One
  7. Who Believes
  8. Voice Of The Soul
  9. Crazy Mary Goes Around
  10. Haunted Lullaby
  11. In Your Honor
  12. *Untitled* - instrumental

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Lead Vocals

Jeff Pilson - Bass, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron and Keys

Mick Brown - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Reb Beach - Guitars

 

After some disappointing stuff being released under the name of Dokken, the band returns to a sound much more akin to their older stuff with 'Erase The Slate'. The title track could just as easily have been on 'Under Lock And Key', as on this 1999 release. So I instantly enjoyed this disc. But after a few spins, I discovered a problem with it. Too many of the songs just didn't cut it in the long run. "Maddest Hatter" and "Crazy Mary Goes Around" are examples. But if you can enjoy what is truly good here, you have a fine melodic soft-metal platter. Dokken is once again warmly welcome in my collection.

Killer tracks: Erase The Slate, Change The World, Shattered 

LIVE FROM THE SUN (2000) CMC INTERNATIONAL

  1. Erase The Slate
  2. Kiss Of Death
  3. The Hunter
  4. Into The Fire
  5. Maddest Hatter
  6. Too High To Fly
  7. Breaking The Chains
  8. Alone Again
  9. It's Not Love
  10. Tooth And Nail
  11. In My Dreams

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Lead Vocals

Jeff Pilson - Bass, Vocals & Moog Taurus Pedals

"Wild" Mick Brown - Drums, Vocals

Reb Beach - Guitars

A live disc, given to me by a friend in USA (thanks, Scott). The first thing I noticed, was the great sound on this album. The second was the poor set list (OK, I like the Dokken of the 80's the best, so what did I expect?). The guitars are handled by Reb Beach, 'cause George Lynch was off recording disco-tunes(!!). Dokken live is a pleasant experience, but this will never become a live-classic. The awful 10 minute + "Too High To Fly" ruins much of it, and the songs I like in studio-settings, don't give me quite the same kick here. So this becomes more of a collector's item, but I'm glad I have it.

LONG WAY HOME (2002) SANCTUARY RECORDS

  1. Sunless Days
  2. Little Girl
  3. Everybody Needs (To Be With Someone)
  4. You
  5. Goodbye My Friend
  6. Magic Road
  7. There Was A Time
  8. Heart Full Of Soul
  9. Under The Gun
  10. I've Found

Line-up:

Don Dokken - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Rhythm Guitar

Mick Brown - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

John Norum - Lead Guitar

Barry Sparks - Bass, Vocals

After a long time with internal struggles in the band, with members coming and going, and even deliberate actions from original member to try and destroy the band, Dokken reappeared with a revitalized lineup in 2002. Barry Sparks and John Norum replaced Jeff Pilson and George Lynch/Reb Beach, and Dokken released their 8th studio album, entitled 'Long Way Home'.

The new album was a much more modern sounding affair. The guitars are downtuned, and the whole album feels experimental and laidback. I'm quite surprised by the fact that a shredder like John Norum doesn't show more of his skills here. Don is not the fantastic singe he used to be during the 80's, but he can still deliver emotion and melody like only he can. Anyhow, there are some very catchy, classic Dokken sounding songs present, like the opening "Sunless Days". 'Long Way Home' also reeks of The Beatles vibes. Just listen to "Everybody Needs (To Be With Someone)". And "Heart Full Of Soul" is actually a cover of the 1965 The Yardbirds single. But for the most part I'd say that 'Long Way Home' features the melodic hard rock we all have come to expect from Dokken. It's not their strongest records, by far. But it does deliver some strong songs nonetheless.

Killer tracks: Sunless Days, Little Girl, Everybody Needs (To Be With Someone), Under The Gun, I've Found

Dokken also appear on:  

V/A - 'Heavy Metal Hits Of The '80s''

 

Don Dokken guest appearances:

Scorpions - 'Blackout'

Twisted Sister - 'Come Out And Play'

 

Jeff Pilson guest appearances:

V/A - 'Metallic Assault - A Tribute To Metallica'

Liberty N' Justice - 'Light It Up'

Liberty N' Justice - 'The Cigar Chronicles Volume 1& 2'

V/A - 'Bat Head Soup - Tribute To Ozzy'

 

George Lynch guest appearances:

V/A - 'Bat Head Soup - Tribute To Ozzy'

Liberty N' Justice - 'The Cigar Chronicles Volume 1& 2'

 

John Norum guest appearances:

V/A - 'Spacewalk - A Tribute To Ace Frehley'

 

Barry Sparks guest appearances:

Scorpions - 'Unbreakable'

 

Reb Beach guest appearances:

V/A - 'Bat Head Soup - Tribute To Ozzy'

 

Jeff Martin guest appearances:

Judas Priest - 'Turbo'

V/A - 'Bat Head Soup - Tribute To Ozzy'

 

Related artists:

Don Dokken, Ratt, John Norum, Europe, Alice Cooper, Roland Grapow, Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, Hear 'n Aid, Doro