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After a simple, decent debut "Breaking the Chains", Dokken formulates their sound on their second full-length "Tooth & Nail." Jeff Pilson came in to replace Juan Crouchier who left to be in Ratt. No disrespect to Juan, but this would be a big improvement as his presence in the band made him a perfect complement to what George Lynch can do and helped round out the impressive musicians Dokken has. With more developed songs, more freedom for Lynch to do his guitar work, and a great vocal performance from Don Dokken, this is one of the top Dokken albums.
The first thing noticeable is Don Dokken. His voice has matured since the debut and its more gruff and rough as evidenced in the opening lines of the title track. His performance from top to bottom might be the best he ever controlled his voice and flawlessly delivered the lyrics. The chorous lines he provides do not sound annoying as found on the last and "Under Lock & Key", which would be their next album.
George Lynch has an excellent performance on this album as well. While it seemed like his ability was held down on the debut, all his talent is on display here. His guitar has that crunch and bite to attract the listener with the controlled frenzy of playing. The mastery of the rhythm playing and the soloing can be heard on "Don't Close Your Eyes", the title track, and also most known song "Into the Fire."
Though it seems like this release is absolute perfection, unfortunately it is not. "Alone Again" would be one of many future ballads written by Don and Co. and it has the cheesiest chrous line and it is a bad, rotten kind of cheese, not a good and enjoyable one. "Heartless Heart" sounds like a leftover from their debut. It has terrible background vocals in the chorus and offers nothing exciting. One last bad apple would be "Just Got Lucky." Now musically, the song is solid, but the lyrics are awful. I'll put it this way, one would be lucky not to hear this song.
Aside from those quips, this is very good album. Strong performances from Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, and Mick Brown make this is an impressive offering of 80's metal. Do not be turned away by the image of the band, because this is not glam folks. There are plenty of choice cuts to enjoy and is better than most stuff put out today.
Most hair bands are overrated, as the overemphasis on catchy songwriting and tailchasing generally belies musical depth. But some of these bands are really, really overrated. Dokken is a big one, somehow getting lumped in with the better half of the popular acts on the account of guitarist George Lynch alone and Tooth and Nail being hailed as one of glam’s finest moments. Let’s get this straight right now: justifying Dokken on account of George Lynch is like justifying Extreme on account of Nuno Bettencourt or Winger on account of Reb Beach. You can make a valid argument on a song to song basis, but take their whole output into account and it’s going to fall through. Looking past the superficial impact of the few heavy riffs and flashy solos that this album contains, it’s just standard glam that you’d find on any Ratt or Cinderella album.
Don Dokken has a decent voice, but his shrieks are awful. Bass and drums are standard as well, as are the lyrics. Not too cheesy, but nothing particularly memorable either. Despite this, there are still a few solid tunes on here. “Heartless Heart” rocks, as do the speedy title cut and the slightly darker “When Heaven Comes Down,” while the rest are a combination of unoriginal but inoffensive glam cuts that fans of the scene will probably dig. I can’t say it’s bad, but holy hell is it average for an album that gets as much praise as this one does.
And as for George Lynch? He’s merely another B-rate mid-80’s EVH wannabe. Take for instance his ‘signature’ solo in “Tooth and Nail.” Maybe it’s just me, but it’s this kind of thing that really cheapens Eddie’s innovations in two-handed tapping and lead phrasing. Lynch lacks not only his technical ability and stylistic flair, but also his class, his restraint, and his unconventional songwriting (is it too obvious I’m a devoted Van Halen fan?). Accept no substitutes, kids.
So glam fans will probably dig this, even though it’s mediocre. Minus the two sort-of-ballads, it’s a fairly rockin’ album, just nothing to write home about.
Originally written for: http://www.metal-observer.com
Let's face it; Dokken were only worthy purely by the fact that George Lynch was (is?) one of the best guitar manglers in the hair farmer scene. This album does feature some of his best work, too, as far as riffs and tone and of course the godlike soloing he was known for. Very few could touch Lynch when he was on in those days! He had virtually no competition in that realm other than the likes of Yngwie.
Every song on this album features a smorgasbord of guitar ear candy; catchy riffs, aggressive fills that lunge out at you to grab your ear and bend it hard, and did I mention he can shred a bit? Highlights in that respect: the title track with its descending chromatic intro and tough verse riffs (and *scorching* solo), "Just Got Lucky" with its wailing, melodic chorus lead; "Don't Close Your Eyes" for some of his heaviest (relatively speaking) riffs. Michael Wagener's thunderous production really enhances his performance and even makes the rest of the band sound pretty decent.
The rest of the band...oh yeah, them. Don Dokken is one of the weakest singers/frontmen out there and a pathetically cliched lyricist. Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown simply thump away in customary 80s fashion with the usual lazy 8th-note pounding characteristic of the era. Really rather boring, ultimately. Lynch eventually got sick of Don's ego and probably his lack of inspiration and skill and went off on his own in Lynch Mob, and Dokken of course suffered without his guitar genius.
All in all, ignore Dokken's weaknesses (the band, the weak vocals and silly lyrics) and pay attention to Lynch for a master class in shred delivered with equal parts intensity, taste, staggering chops, and emotion on this LP. He is the only reason I ever paid attention to Dokken in the first place.
Dokken is a band that is defined primarily by it's guitar riffs, and here they are in top form, from start to finish. George Lynch is what many would call one of the fore-fathers of shredding, yet his solos always contain a heavily melodic element to them. His tone is highly expressive and dynamic, as can easily be observed as the solos sing with the quality of a trained opera vocalist.
It is also important to make note of singer Don Dokken as he is also heavily present. All I can say is that his vocal style is very soft and glamish, which was en vogue at the time. We can obviously glean from his image that he meant for himself to be the star of attention, though I must say that it gets a bit over-the-top at times depending on what music video or concert footage you're watching.
We have some amazing songs on here, and we have a couple of tracks that don't fully hold up in certain departments. The instrumental intro "Without Warning" has some rather brilliant guitar track overdubs that pave the way for the greatest song on here, "Tooth and Nail". Both the title track and "Turn Up the Action" are up tempo and highly climactic. The former sounds almost like it could be a more technical version of some of the faster material Motorhead put out 3 or 4 years earlier. The title track also contains George Lynch's most technically driven solo, rivaling Eddie Van Halen in terms of flash and technical intrigue. "Don't Close Your Eyes" also moves around fairly quickly, though it's riffs are not quite as riveting as it's two faster counterparts.
Tracks such as "When Heaven Comes Down" and "Bullets to Spare" are a bit slower but still rock quite hard. Don Dokken does some nice AC/DC style screams at certain key points. Others such as "Into the Fire" and "Just Got Lucky" are mostly melodically driven, the latter by the recurring guitar theme, the former by it's various rhythmic sections and vocal interchanges. Both of them will stick in your head and have you humming along in no time.
As stated before, we have one Persian flaw in what would otherwise be a perfect album, and that is the two tracks that have yet to be mentioned. "Alone Again" has some solid acoustic and electric guitar lines, a beautiful melodic solo, and a rather surreal atmosphere to it. However, the lyrics are pure fluff, and drag the song down a bit. "Heartless Heart" suffers both in the title and the lyric department. At the time the song title might have seemed inventive and witty, but when I read it all I hear it a redundancy that inspires one to make jokes about the band being whipped by their female fans and coming up with goofy song titles to please them.
In conclusion, this is a solid album that will appeal to fans of the LA scene during the early to mid-80s, and also to fans of shred guitar playing. Power Metal fans might be drawn to 3 or 4 of the faster songs on here, but the rest is bluesy glam rock with exceptional soloing over it and will probably not sate the Power Metal fan's need for speed in the overall song department.
I like hair metal. I really think I can say that conclusively. I have friends who like the genre more, it’s true, the guy who actually owns this album for example. However, I do like to say that I like good hair metal exclusively, bands like Def Leppard, 80’s Scorpions, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Bullet Boys, and Skid Row to name a few. It’s true that I like other hair bands for comedy value, because you haven’t laughed until you’ve seen the music videos of clueless hacks like Danger Danger , Steelheart, and Firehouse, or heard the hopeless rants of the most definitive hair band’s whining about how they got tossed in with ‘that’ bunch. Some acts, Extreme and Saigon Kick for example, can say that with all honesty and be totally correct. However, anytime Trixter tries to tell you that they weren’t a hair band, give ‘em a slap for me.
All that leads me to this review of Dokken’s Tooth and Nail, a glam metal album that has actually managed to ingratiate itself with some fairly hearty metal folks. Now, I’d assume that it has something to do with being the album that gave birth to their first heady head bang (difficult to find a song that lends itself to that here, he mumbles), but Jeff Pilson’s excellent tenure with Ronnie Dio and the technically adept widdling of one George Lynch at least gives the band enough metal edge to be acceptable, or at least to counteract the laid-back sissy vocals of one ‘Rokken’ Don Dokken (my own moniker, try to ignore it).
Tooth and Nail does rock most of the time (at the very least only “Alone Again” and “Into the Fire” are true blue ballads), it’s just usually not very hard. I didn’t come into this thing expecting Limbonic Art, but Def Leppard’s “Foolin’” has more force, passion, and yes goddammit, HEAVY in the ride-out (let alone “China White” by Scorps or anything from Shout at the Devil) than this whole record. However (he says in a calmer voice), this album has some bright spots, in particular the bookends of the album (ignore instrumental opener “Without Warning”), both “Tooth and Nail” and “Turn on the Action” exercising that hair speed metal concept with some really cool power metal window dressing, the sweet riff underneath the “Turn on the Action” pre-chorus being quite specifically awesome. I’m also quite fond of the grim “When Heaven Comes Down”, one of those hair metal ‘this is our dark song’ moments (Skid Row: “Midnight/Tornado”, Def Leppard: “Gods of War”, etc.), but done really well. Furthermore the unabashedly glam-happy “Heartless Heart” is relentlessly catchy, a situation where Don ‘Sukken’ Dokken’s vocals are actually appropriate and work correctly in context.
That’s really the biggest problem here (other than tracks like “Into the Fire” and “Just Got Lucky” which, uh, suck), said problem being that you can crook a finger at any song here and go ‘Yep, that’s stereotype #342251’, and worse, come up with examples that are way better from other bands. I know 1984 is early in the hair game (hell, they even had an album prior), but once Pyromania, Blackout, and Shout at the Devil came out, the game is up, and band’s like Dokken can’t cut it. Also, the production is weak, guitar lacking bite, and drums (see “Heartless Heart”, the break) sound hollow and trashy.
Anyway, this is hardly the pariah of metal, a slummy overturned monolith that sucked bad enough that it’s the eternal reference point on how not to do things. It’s just a slightly above average hair offering, bolstered by the slight power metal forecasts of George Lynch. No more, no less, and far from the best hair has to offer.
Stand-Outs: “When Heaven Comes Down”, “Turn On the Action”, “Tooth and Nail”