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Dokken: From Conception Live 1981

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Sunday, March 18, 2007 @ 9:50 AM

Rhino Records

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During the early 80's, Dokken burst onto the Sunset Strip with a vengeance that can only be described as raw, riveting, and hungry for success. Determined to make their mark in Metal history, the musical chemistry of Don Dokken and George Lynch made Dokken one of the most popular bands to emerge out of the metal genre. "Breakin’ The Chains" was their first big hit and the band toured with Aerosmith, Judas Priest, and performed on the Monsters of Rock Tour. In 2007, Dokken is gearing up for one of their most important years of their career. The band recently signed with Rhino Records and is planning on releasing a new studio album in the fall. In the meantime, to hold everyone over, Dokken has released a new live album of one of their first live recordings before they were signed to a major label, entitled, “From Conception Live 1981”.

“From Conception Live 1981” is a ten song live release featuring three previously unreleased songs, plus two classic Dokken anthems, "Breaking The Chains", and "Paris". "The live recording features all four original members Don Dokken, George Lynch, Mick Brown, and Jeff Pilson and is a collector's item for all Dokken fans, who grew up with the passionate vocals of Don Dokken, and the masterful guitar shredding of George Lynch.

The album cover features the Dokken logo, with a baby in the womb, which symbolizes the birth of the band. Don Dokken came across these old tapes, when he was asked to remix "Breaking the Chains", for a 25th Anniversary release. You will be surprised what a little remixing can do. The magic, and intensity of one of the first Dokken live shows is very good. Don's voice sounds amazingly strong, as George Lynch weaves his classic Dokken riffs around the catchy, melodic signature sound that is known as Dokken.

In comparison to, “Beast From The East", I really think the mixing is well done, and the balance between singer and guitarist is evenly matched. It was also good to hear, what the band really sounded like before Don went to Germany and got the record deal.

Don described to me how Dokken came into fruition, “My first band was called Airborne. We just kind of played the clubs in LA, at The Whiskey and the Troubadour. Then I went to do a tour and got the record deal. They wanted me to sign as a solo artist. The original album "Breaking the Chains" came out in Europe and it was called Don Dokken. Yeah! It was pretty rare there were only 500 copies that say Don on it. So the band got together and I just dropped the Don and we became Dokken. One of the greatest highlights was driving down the highway, and hearing "Breaking The Chains" on the radio for the first time."

“From Conception Live 1981” opens with the classic riffs of "Paris". This is one of my favorite Dokken tunes. It is heavy, but at the same time it has that secret success formula of Don Dokken and George Lynch that made this song a classic. One of the interesting aspects of this release is that we get to hear 3 previously unreleased tracks including, "Goin Down". This song has potential FM radio hit written all over it, with it's catchy guitar work, and great vocals. The band should have waited and remixed this song for their new studio release, “Lightning Strikes Again". It is that good.

During the 80's, the Sunset Strip was all about girls, metal, and good times. The next two songs capture the moment very well as Don sings, “Young Girls", a song about being in love. The band slams into the hard driving second song that was previously unreleased, “Hit and Run".

For all of the fans who were a big fan of George Lynch's guitar solos, there is "GTR Solo". It reminds me a lot of "Mr. Scary".

Other highlights include the song that started it all, "Breaking The Chains”. I love the raw energy of the band. Don's signature vocal style shines on this tune. Over the years, I heard this song being played in concert; many times and I never get tired of it. Hearing the first live raw performance of it really defines where the band was coming from at the time, and why they became so popular during the metal heyday.

The release ends with a song about love gone wrong, “Liar”. I really enjoyed the hard driving drums of Mick Brown. Mick has got to be one of the most solid drummers in rock history. "From Conception Live 1981" has the whole Dokken package, great vocals, shedding guitar solos, and infectious melodies that put Dokken on the charts in the 80's.

The album kind of has that deja vu appeal, and brings you back to a time when lyrics, and melody ruled metal. Dokken was at the top of their game, ready to show the world that a song really can really outstand the test of time.

If you are a huge fan of early Dokken, this album is a gem filled with vintage, classic hits. It is nice to have the best of both worlds, as we await the release of the new studio Dokken, "Lightning Strikes Again", we can take a trip back in time and hear "Breaking The Chains" being played for one of the first times in a live concert setting.


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