July 25, 2010
By David Huff
Dokken - Rock 'N America 2010
Chains are Broken
Dokken was one of the most consistent bands to come out of the glam era until internal strife ripped the band apart. During it’s six year reign starting in 1983, Dokken accumulated numerous hit singles and sold over 10 million albums. Unlike contemporaries such as Ratt, Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister, Dokken’s style of traditional metal music was characterized by extravagant use of lead guitars courtesy of George Lynch, a thundering rhythm section of bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown, and the powerful vocals of Don Dokken.
Breaking The Chains started the ball rolling for Dokken in 1983. Recorded four years earlier in Germany, where Don Dokken had relocated the band, the album at first was only made available in this country as an import. When Elektra Records signed the band, they knew they already had a hit with the title track, “Breaking The Chains.” The label was also keenly aware they had a future guitar hero in George Lynch. His breathtaking guitar work and technical expertise displayed throughout the album, particularly on the tracks “Paris Is Burning” and “Nightrider,” were the perfect compliment to Don Dokken’s soaring vocals.
The official North American debut of Dokken came about in 1984 with the release of Tooth & Nail. This hard charging album contained three of Dokken’s finest moments in “You Just Got Lucky,” “Into The Fire” and the group’s first No. 1 single, “Alone Again.” Interestingly enough, this power ballad was indirectly responsible for starting a subgenre of power ballads that nearly every ‘80s hair metal act would incorporate into an album at one point or another. Tooth and Nail was also the first of a consecutive string of platinum albums Dokken was about to unleash.
By 1985, Dokken had managed to become one of this country’s most popular metal bands without makeup. George Lynch was already being lauded in guitar magazines as the next “big thing.” After several months of solid touring, the band jumped back into the studio to record Under Lock and Key. This album also produced three hit singles in “The Hunter,” “It’s Not Love” and the infectious “In My Dreams.”
In 1987, the band released Back for the Attack, which featured a track they had written as the subtitle for the third Nightmare on Elm Street film, "Dream Warriors." The coinciding music video, which included scenes of the band interacting with the movie's characters, was their most popular ever, and Back for the Attack became Dokken's biggest selling album to date. The subsequent tour resulted in a live compilation released in 1988, Beast From the East. It was released shortly before the band joined Van Halen’s Monsters of Rock tour. Two months after the five-act tour, also featuring Kingdom Come, Metallica and the Scorpions, began its cross-country trek, Dokken broke up for good at the last show in Denver.
Needless to say, the disbanding of Dokken was disastrous for all parties concerned. Don pursued a solo career with Up From the Ashes, while Lynch and drummer Mick Brown formed the Lynch Mob. Both recordings released in 1990 failed to attract interest. In 1993, Dokken once again reunited and was signed by Columbia Records. Their 1995 debut for the label, Dysfunctional, proved to be just that. Critics panned the record and fans simply just stayed away. The ugly demons of the past resurfaced once again in Dokken during the recording of the live acoustic set, One Night Live. Cooler heads finally prevailed and in 1997, Dokken released yet another studio album, Shadowlife. Again, the music failed to attract any type of an audience, and quietly disappeared.
In 1998, Lynch left a second time to reunite Lynch Mob, and was replaced with Winger guitarist Reb Beach for 1999's Erase the Slate. This was followed in 2000 by another concert record, Live From the Sun, which captured the Beach lineup at Anaheim's Sun Theater. Beach left the group to work with Whitesnake and was replaced by John Norum. Dokken recorded yet another album, Long Way Home, for release in the spring of 2002. In 2003, ex-Warlock guitarist John Levin and ex-Ted Nugent and Yngwie Malmsteen bassist Barry Sparks, joined the group.
In 2004, John Norum left to join a reunited Europe and was replaced by Jon Levin (who formerly played guitar on Doro's Force Majeure), and they released the album Hell to Pay. Currently, Don Dokken is working on new songs for what will become his tenth studio album spanning an amazing 25-year career.