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Dokken Lightning Strikes Again

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 @ 0:16 AM

Rhino Records

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Over the years, Dokken has been through many musical changes. With the departure of George Lynch in 1997, after the "Shadow Life" tour it took awhile to find the right guitarist to fill the void that would unleash the catchy Dokken riffs that flow so easily along side the powerful yet melodic vocals of front man vocalist Don Dokken.

Well the wait is over. On the 2004 debut of Hell to Pay, Dokken tried to re-invent themselves with the help of new guitarist Jon Levin. Although the album seemed to experiment in a more modern day writing style, the band put their best foot forward and released an album that showcased and prove that Dokken can still write great songs and rock with the best of the bands in the industry today.

It has been four years since the Hell To Pay release, and after relentless touring, and four years of writing the upcoming Dokken release, Lightning Strikes Again, finds Dokken returning to their old school formula of success that launched the band onto the charts in their heyday. Filled with huge vocals, and soaring, catchy guitar riffs in the Lynch vibe tradition, Dokken has returned with one of their strongest albums since the, Tooth and Nail era.

The chemistry between Don Dokken and Jon Levin is reminiscent of the early Dokken/Lynch days, where the pop oriented riffs and Spartan vocals are infused with melodies that have you singing along from start to finish.

I know back in the day, I used to crank up, “It’s Not Love", and "Breaking The Chains", in my car, and the same feeling holds true on Lightning Strikes Again.

The opening track, “Standing On The Outside", is pure Dokken. The solos are infused with the signature Dokken trademark, after three chords, you know Dokken is back!

As the band slams into, “Give Me A Reason", Don proves why he is still one of the best vocalists in music today. My favorite track is "Heart To Stone". I really wished that the record company had picked this song. It kind of reminds me of "Burning Like A Flame", and "It's Not Love" combined. The sizzling guitar hooks, and Don's passionate singing on this love gone wrong is outstanding.

Next up, Dokken goes back to the Hell To Pay vibe, with "Disease". I really like the overdubbed vocal effect on this track, as Don's vocals kind of remind me of Velvet Revolver meets Stone Temple Pilots. Also, "Release Me", has this kind of modern, yet in your face musical style. Guitarist Jon Levin says, “‘Disease’ is sort of the ones that are outside of the record. We couldn't do all of them sounding like the same thing or we would have a boring album. But, I really liked what he did to that one as well. The ‘Judgment Day’ one sort of started out as something vintage, and we sort of took it in a different direction. It sort of shines on it's own. Definitely, those two tracks stand out as the select tracks, buy they are still cool."

Of course, you know the 80's always had a power ballad, and what would a Dokken album be without a love gone wrong song? "How I Miss Your Smile", will be a favorite for all the Dokken lady fans. Don has the perfect melodic voice to make you feel the pain on all the Dokken ballads. "Oasis" has that vintage Dokken sound with sizzling guitar riffs, as Don croons,"You Are My Oasis, My Calm Within The Storm". Also, there is another ballad on the album entitled, “I Remember". Don takes a lesson from his Scorpions friend, Klaus Meine, with huge vocals and haunting melodic melody. I really like this song. This would have made a great duet between Dokken and Meine.

For all the hardcore Dokken fans, who loved Tooth and Nail, the band didn’t forsake their old school roots. "Point Of No Return", follows in the Tooth and Nail vein, with the heavy rhythm section of Wild Mick Brown, and bassist Barry Sparks. Also, "Judgment Day", which surrounds itself with the world issues today, brings you back to the heyday of Dokken.

"Release Me” is, in my opinion, the theme song for this album. As Dokken re-invent themselves, and rise up from the ashes to return to the vintage old school sound of Dokken, infused with a modern day touch. The album ends with the fast-paced "This Fire".

Overall, Lightning Strikes Strikes Again, is a solid album, power-packed with the signature Dokken classic sound. Don Dokken is singing better than ever. The signature vocal style of Don Dokken has returned. As the 80's singer, that many a fan has looked up to for inspiration gives a very passionate performance. Proving, Don can still hit the high register, and still has the chops that launched, Breakin’ The Chains.

Dokken revisit the past, only to re-emerge them into the future, and prove that great guitar solos are back, and good lyrics and vocals will stand the test of time.

Lightning Strikes Againis produced by Don Dokken and engineered by Wyn Davis. Track Listing

    1. "Standing On The Outside"
    2. "Give Me A Reason"
    3. "Heart To Stone"
    4. "Disease"
    5. "How I Miss Your Smile"
    6. "Oasis"
    7. "Point Of No Return"
    8. "I Remember"
    9. "Judgment Day"
    10. "It Means"
    11. "Release Me"
    12. "This Fire"

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