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In 1985, Dokken decided to take the plunge into commercialism with "Under Lock and Key" so they could get some more ass. Well, there was probably more to it, but it is almost certain that was at least one of the reasons. The cover says it all with the big hair, gaudy outifits, and a title that could be taken as a sexual innuendo. However, as has been said before, the factor that separated Dokken from other bands was their musicianship and while there are some worthwhile songs found here, some of them are just downright terrible.
What is noticeably different is the guitar does not have that crunch or heaviness to it like "Tooth and Nail" or "Back for the Attack." It is just too clean sounding and detracts from the overall product. This is not to say that George Lynch delivers a lackluster performance on this release, because he is great yet again.
The first three tracks are all good, but as stated, the lack of a really heavy guitar sound makes them lose some potential energy that they could have. Dokken seems to be very good at picking their opening tracks because they are usually the best or one the best on each of their albums. In this case "Unchain the Night" is the opener and it has an epic acoustic intro and then erupts into a killer riff and drum beat with an astounding vocal deliver from Don. "The Hunter" has a very poppy vibe, but the guitar and chorus are extremely catchy and it also the only music video that made Don Dokken look tough. While the next tune has an unattractive vocal opening of just Don in a very high and layered voice singing "In my dreams..." Geoge Lynch comes in and saves it and turns out to be a must listen.
From there, the quality starts taking a turn for the worse. "Slippin' Away" is a terrible ballad and sounds just like any other one. They should be ashamed of this song because they are better than this garbage. "It's Not Love" is laughably bad because of the cheesy chorus and the gang shouts in the background saying "It's not love!" made me a little embarrassed that I was listening to it. One would think that "Slippin' Away" would be the only ballad on here, but Dokken decided to put another one here with "Jaded Heart." While not as bad as the other one, it is still not good, but it does have a pretty neat mid-section that leads into the solo. "Don't Lie to Me" sounds like a carbon of copy of "It's Not Love." C'mon Dokken, just because you want to go mainstream does not mean you have to lose some creativity.
There are a couple other gems found on here however. "Lightnin' Strikes Again" is pure speed and some wicked bass and guitar work by Jeff Pilson and George Lynch. A little bit of an odd number is "Will the Sun Rise?" which sounds like a power metal song. A strong chorus, epic vocals and guitar and is really well done and impressive considering that Dokken do not write songs like this.
"Under Lock and Key" is not the best Dokken by any means, but it is still an enjoyable listen. It is definitly more poppy and it seemed like it would only get worse, but the next album would be much of a surprise and blows this one away. The overall feel of the album will be sure to drive some people away, but it should be given a chance.