DOKKEN – Broken Bones

Dokken - Broken BonesIn the 80’s Dokken was one of those bands on the verge of making it real big. Their trilogy of the records Tooth And Nail (1984), Under Lock And Key (1985) and Back For The Attack (1987) sold very well, at least in the States, they all went platinum, but somehow they never made it to the big arenas as a headline act. In Europe nothing really happened, probably because of their inability to move their asses over. Come to think of it, I don’t ever think they made it further than Britain and maybe Germany. They were a huge act in Japan, though, but then again, so was everybody else. But Dokken was more famous for their fighting within the band, specially Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch who were at each other’s throats ever so often and it somehow always made it to the press! To keep a band going in a situation like that is, of course, impossible and after a disastrous tour in 1987, the band imploded the year after and the release of their live album Beast From The East would be their last. Or so everybody thought. Don Dokken formed an all star solo band and released an uneven and poorly sounding album, Up From The Ashes in 1990 that failed completely, George took drummer Mick Brown and formed Lynch Mob which made a brilliant album, Wicked Sensation in 1990 that sold well, but its self titled follow up bombed and bassist Jeff Pilson had a short stint in MSG. With all the members’ failures, a reunion was inevitable and in 1995 the original line up released the sadly underrated Dysfunctional. But grunge had happened and nobody was interested in Dokken anymore. They managed to release the awful Shadowlife in 1997, but the band had, under threats from Lynch, jumped on the grunge bandwagon and when that album bombed, George Lynch jumped the ship. Don Dokken in his turn, said that he would personally give refunds to every fan who spent money on that album. After that, Dokken became an employment service for guitarists. Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake), John Norum (Europe) and Jon Levin all recorded albums with Dokken throughout the years. Levin is to this day Dokkens guitarplayer and drummer Brown has been loyal to Dokken since 1995. Pilson, however left years ago and was replaced by Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, MSG), who is now replaced by Sean McNabb (House Of Lords, Quiet Riot, Great White).

Dokken’s releases from the late 90’s up until now has been uneven and the band hasn’t even come close to past standards and with their new album, Don Dokken said it would be their last. From now on, Dokken will only be touring band, a nostalgia act playing a more or less greatest hits set. That’s why it feels ironic that with this album Dokken has made their best effort since Dysfunctional. That’s not to say that Broken Bones is some kind of masterpiece. It’s actually pretty far from that, but this time, the band has managed to write a whole bunch of very good and memorable tunes and the the typical Dokken sound that disappeared with Lynch is back, at least in some places. I can find traces of the Dokken sound in the opener and first single “Empire, one of the best songs Dokken has written in years and years, the title track seems like an attempt to rewrite “Unchain The Night”, which kinda fails even though the song is a real good one. But it sounds more like a Don Dokken solo thing, “Best Of Me” is a great Dokken sounding pop metal track, “Victim Of Crime” is a great heavy number with a brilliant melody and in, with “Tonight” they have stolen the “Painkiller” riff from Judas Priest and put it to a classic Dokken melody. It works like a charm and closes the album in a brilliant way.

If all the songs had been as good as the ones mentioned, Dokken would have had a winner on their hands.Unfortunately they’re not!  The album contains too many fillers that go in one ear and out the other. Also, with Lynch gone, the classic Dokken sound is missing too often and for the most, the band sounds just like an ordinary hard rock band with Don Dokken singing.  To hope for a reunion of the original members wouldn’t be realistic as Don Dokken and Lynch hate each others guts and Pilson is now a member of Foreigner, but I believe that a reunion is the only thing that could make Dokken rise above average. I’m sure this album won’t go platinum anytime soon, because I don’t think anybody but some die-hards care about new releases from this band anymore. So maybe this album as their last is just as well. As a touring act, they could probably manage quite well.

Jon Wilmenius (6/10)


01. Empire
02. Broken Bones
03. Best Of Me
04. Blind
05. Waterfall
06. Victim Of The Crime
07. Burning Tears
08. Today
09. For The Last Time
10. Fade Away
11. Tonight

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