Dokken / The Elektra Years a wonderful tribute to their role in ’80s rock

There have been some tasty in-house band feuds over the years. Ill feeling between the likes of the Gallagher brothers, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, Ray and Dave Davies, Axl and Slash, and of course Roger Waters and just about everyone, have all kept us both amused and a lot of the time downright bored of their shenanigans. Even at that lot, we’re only scraping the surface. But one which may not have been as well documented was the ongoing handbags at nine paces between Don Dokken and George Lynch, who were one-half of ’80s Rock big hitters Dokken.

Dokken – The Elektra Albums 1983-1987 (BMG)

Release Date: Out Now

Words: Brian Boyle

But whatever the real reason for the animosity, the waters these days appeared to have calmed considerably, and the four memorable albums they made with the classic lineup alongside bassist Jeff Pilson who replaced Juan Croucier and drummer Mick Brown, are now re-spandexed as a limited edition box set.

Billed as The Elektra Albums 1983-1987, this collection features the first four studio outings from the band’s topsy-turvy career but also represents the band at their creative peak.

Debut Breaking The Chains saw them join the glorious madhouse that was ’80s Rock/Glam Metal/Hair Metal or whatever you’re having yourself. 1983 was the year Def Leppard set the template with the game-changing Pyromania album, and the infant MTV video platform loved them. And Dokken got the memo and took to it like a duck to water. The video to the superb title track was wonderfully cringeworthy, full of pouts and poses, but that song had star quality plastered all over it.

And the rest of the album was damn decent too. The tight live version of Paris Is Burning, the attitude-drenched Nightrider and Stick To Your Guns all smacked of a band full of ambitious hunger.

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As was the style at the time, albums were nearly always churned out on a yearly basis, and although it was pretty much a case of as you were, 1984s Tooth And Nail saw Dokken really starting to smell themselves. A trio of hit singles in Alone Again, Into The Fire and Just Got Lucky fired the sophomore release to over a million sales in the US alone. And with Jeff Pilson getting his first studio venture with the band under his belt, George Lynch was really emerging as a bona fide guitar hero.

But his fraught working relationship with Don Dokken hampered the album’s recording. Original producer Tom Werman buggered off after a few weeks leaving the legendary Roy Thomas Baker to steady the ship.

Despite the ongoing acrimony, the then all-important third album, Under Lock And Key, was another commercial success. Though not as heavy as its predecessor, Unchain The Night and Lightnin’ Strikes Again still growl with Metal vibes. Tamer tracks like The Hunter and In My Dreams weren’t disowned, as both achieved healthy chart positions across various rock charts.

Album number four, Back For The Attack, marked Dokken’s most successful album release, reaching a lofty No 13 on the US Billboard Charts. The album is probably most famous for the track Dream Warriors, which is featured in the soundtrack to Nightmare On Elm Street 3.

Other stellar moments like Burning Like A Flame, Heaven Sent and Prisoner were all safe and formulaic ’80s as you’re going to get, but all fared impressively chart-wise. Following the album’s release, a slot on the massive Monsters Of Rock Tour alongside Van Halen, Scorpions and Metallica gave the band massive exposure across the 23 cities.

The following year, the tension between Dokken and Lynch reached its peak, and the band split for the first time.

Dokken may not have enjoyed the same fortunes as other ’80s stablemates like Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, or Bon Jovi, but their contribution to this memorable period in rock music should never be overlooked. This box set is a wonderful tribute to their role.

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