Home Albums Album Review: Dokken: The Elektra Albums 1983-1987

Album Review: Dokken: The Elektra Albums 1983-1987

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Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM

Ahh, the 80’s!! Where would we be without them? Do you remember waiting patiently for the fortnightly Kerrang!! Magazine for news on your favourite bands?

Do you remember the weekly trek to the record shop and spending ages flicking through the shelves chatting to other regulars who appeared every Saturday on the same mission? The music of the time, NWOBHM, the coming to prominence of Thrash Metal, and the heyday of Glam Metal primarily around the Los Angeles area where some bands spent considerable time on their make-up, hair and spandex preening themselves for that night’s gig, image all important?

It was a defining era in the evolution of Heavy Rock and Metal particularly for my age group. Friendships forged on a mutual appreciation of our music were formed, the vast majority still alive and well today, you’ll find us at gigs standing back with a pint listening intently to the band either beside the sound desk or keeping stage left (or right) away from any potential circle pits, letting the young cubs do their thing! It was the era of The Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington which was in its prime: one stage, 6-7 bands and no timetable clashes; the whole thing over in one day.

The lack of facilities and traditional mud bath with the skies filled by plastic bottles containing….er, recycled lager flying high, near to being picked up by East Midlands Airport ATC radar, quite a few reaching the stage.

The point of this reminiscing is the 4-album package entitled “Dokken: The Elektra Albums 1983-1987” i.e., the first 4 Dokken studio albums; “Breaking the Chains”, “Tooth and Nail”, “Under Lock and Key” and “Back for the Attack”. Sitting listening to the first disc again, “Breaking The Chains” is invoking memories galore.

To my ears there has been no remixing or remastering or whatever sound engineers do to re-releases carried out on these, so the sounds filling my headphones are as damn near to transporting me back to those days as one of the early promo videos with tight leather, hairspray and scantily clad rock chicks flouncing about on the bonnet of a Corvette. 80’s Glam Metal would give the PC brigade palpitations had they been around back then. Check out Steel Panther for an exaggerated tribute to the whole scene.

What is generally known as the classic Dokken line up consists of: Don Dokken on vocals, George Lynch on guitar, Jeff Pilson on bass and Mick Brown on drums, this box set has all four playing on studio albums 2-4 with Jeff Pilson replacing Juan Croucier who played on the debut “Breaking The Chains”. Yes, Juan Croucier of Ratt fame in a move that was very common in the LA scene with band members chopping and changing regularly making an LA Glam Family Tree look like the map of the London Underground. Dokken would be plagued by such line up inconsistencies particularly live, with Don Dokken being the only regular member.

Disc 1, the debut “Breaking The Chains” was released in 1981 with some copies under the name “Don Dokken” before subsequent pressings with the band name “Dokken” and a different cover.

Disc 2, “Tooth and Nail” followed in 1984 with the three singles charting and propelling album sales over the one million mark in a number of markets with Disc 3, 1985’s “Under Lock and Key” having similar success.

The 4th studio album, and last disc in this box set, “Back for the Attack” was released in 1987 and contains one of Dokken’s most immediately recognisable songs “Dream Warriors” from the soundtrack of “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”.

It is one of those tunes that stays in your head and was the song that got the band noticed big time outside of the US and made the album their most successful release of the 4 albums from this era. The song writing and production on the “Back for the Attack” album reflecting the progress of the musicians and improved recording facilities and budgets being leaps and bounds ahead of the first 3 albums.

Dokken have to date released 11 studio albums with varying line ups, including 2 more by the classic line up. This is music that will make an excellent chill out, or a long journey seem shorter by being suited to tearing up the miles, damn good driving music.

Treat yourself to a few hours from a by-gone era if you missed the 80’s and want to indulge in a bit of time travel to experience the vibe of 1980’s LA Glam Metal. Reminisce if you’re old enough to have experienced the 80’s, whether you want to risk squeezing into leather or spandex is optional and entirely at your own risk. It could help reaching the high notes though…and foremost, enjoy.

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