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This is Dokken’s first major release and probably one of the most heavily criticized as being sub-par in terms of it’s entirety. In comparison to their subsequent releases, there is some truth to this as some of the songs here are forgettable, but I disagree with the assertion made by Power Metal Guardian that there are only 2 great Dokken songs on here.
As a whole, the production on this album is quite rough, though not bad considering that it was done in 1983. The lead guitar tracks are loud enough not to be buried by the drums, which are a tiny bit overpowering at times. Don Dokken’s vocals are controlled fairly well, as is the bass, although the rhythm guitar tracks do sometimes get buried.
The two strongest tracks on here obviously bear the most resemblance to the hit of late releases. “Paris is Burning”, which is recorded live in Berlin, kicks off with an amazing guitar solo that rivals Van Halen’s Eruption. The song itself has the speed of “Tooth and Nail”, but the melodic quality has the idiomatic character of “Under Lock and Key”. “Breaking the Chains” is a classic mid-tempo anthem loaded with memorable riffs, and compared the most with other classics such as “In my Dreams” and “Into the Fire”.
We have a good number of up-tempo tracks on here that almost sound like they could be speed metal. “Live to Rock” and “Nightrider” feature some impressive double bass work by Mick Brown, and some insane leads by shred doctor George Lynch. The latter also has a great main riff that actually compares a bit with Queensryche, who ironically had a song by the same title on their EP debut. “Seven Thunders” is a bit slower in tempo, but the guitar riffs cook so well that it might as well be another fast one.
We have a strong collection of slower songs on here also that deserve mention. “Young Girls” is a bit similar to “It’s not love”, a good set of solid power chord guitar parts, although the lyrics are a bit fluffy. “Stick to your guns” is a bit like a Twisted Sister anthem of angst, although the guitar work on here is a hell of a lot more impressive on here, though Don Dokken’s voice is a bit too clean for this style of song. “Felony” is the song that eventually would create a whole monstrous mess of older men singing about going after under-aged women. Winger actually comes to mind, although Winger would not write any driving rockers like this.
Unfortunately we have 2 rather weak links on this album that I can’t really categorize as anything other than pure fluff. For those of you that already own “Tooth and Nail”, the song to compare these to is the rather silly titled “Heartless Heart”. “In the Middle” has a rather interesting main intro riff, but it suffers greatly due to fluffy lyrics and a lack of punch in the production. If this song were better produced and if Don Dokken’s voice had more gusto to it, this would be “The Hunter” off Under Lock and Key. “I Can’t See You” is a more happy sounding anthem, despite the lyrics being about a break-up. Unfortunately this doesn’t shack up to more powerful anthems such as “Prisoner” and “Just Got Lucky” due to a lack of strong leads to complement the instrumental sections.
In conclusion, this is definitely worth getting, as there are plenty of songs here worth your time besides the two that also appear on their 1999 Greatest Hits compilation. This band would slow it down at bit after this, but the production would get much stronger, and the songs would become more polished. This album is highly recommended to fans of traditional 80s metal fans, particularly fans of Motley Crue and others on the LA scene. If you own and like “Tooth and Nail” or “Under Lock and Key”, this album will not disappoint.