The Elektra Albums 1983-1987

A quintessential L.A. hair band, Dokken’s first four albums have been remastered and boxed. Let’s state the obvious… ’80s metal sounds dated thanks to its high-gain crunch, chorused chords, and trite bad-boy lyrics. The good news is that Dokken’s riffs and grooves, as on “Breaking the Chains,” are rock-solid. Its ’82 live cut “Paris is Burning” is a glorious shredfest that put guitar hero George Lynch on the map.

From 1984’s Tooth and Nail, Lynch soulfully soars over “Without Warning.” “Heartless Heart” and “Just Got Lucky” are riffer-approved displays of saturated California gain. “Into the Fire” uses a streamlined arrangement and Lynch’s fret-melting to great effect. It’s peak (if cheesy) fist-pumpin’ rock.

Under Lock and Key is pure hair-mousse metal, heard in “Unchain the Night” with Klaus Meine-soundalike vocals from Don Dokken and a blinding lead. “The Hunter” is a master class in L.A. amp tone, while “In My Dreams” is a calculated confection of harmony vocals and riffs. Dokken blew apart after Back for the Attack, ending a platinum run, but left fans with the shredtacular magic of Lynch’s instrumental manifesto, “Mr. Scary.” No question, he remains one of the most formidable shredders of the ’80s.

This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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