Dokken – The Lost Songs 1978 – 1981 (REVIEW)

My relationship with Dokken started when A Nightmare on Elm Street pt. 3 “The Dream Warriors” came out on VHS. As a kid obsessed with metal and horror it was the perfect combination. I’ve been a fan of Dokken’s music ever since.

Continuing to add to the discography, Dokken’s latest release The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 is billed as “11 cracking gems from the vaults of Don Dokken.”

The story is that a young and motivated Southern California musician by the name of Don Dokken stepped into Media Arts Studio in Redondo Beach, CA. He laid down some unfiltered, unpasteurized rock ‘n’ roll in the form of these songs. The record is an exciting look back at the genesis of Dokken, and the realization that from the very beginning, the man was a force to be reckoned with.

The opener “Step into the light” has such a signature upbeat Dokken vibe. The churning guitars and soaring vocals instantly draw you in and it blends into a catchy, sunbaked SoCal hook. It’s hard to believe this song is unreleased. It sounds like it would fit nicely just about anywhere in Don Dokken’s discography.

“We’re going wrong” has a very classic rock feel. Definitely reminiscent of a band like The Scorpions, an influence that Dokken openly wore on his sleeve. In fact he eventually ended up in Hamburg, Germany where he forged a historic alliance, working with German producer Michael Wagener, who would later help craft multi-million selling albums for the likes of Motley Crüe, Metallica, Skid Row – Dokken himself.

“Day After Day” is a ballad that you could imagine would have been played at High School dances in the early 80’s. It almost has a classic 1950’s doowop type vibe crossed with classical guitar finger picking. The chorus “You don’t care for me…” is melancholy and catchy at the same time. A very cool departure that showcases another dimension of Dokken’s immense talent.

“Rainbows” is a Dokken track through and through – in fact the main riff is even kind of reminiscent of “Dream Warriors.” and “Felony” has all the marks of a great 80’s rock song. It carries a thuggish fuzz-coated riff. It brings to mind shades of early Van Halen, wearing really greasy embroidered denims.

On the track “No Answer” the quality of the production shifts a bit. You can hear a bit more clarity and the mix sounds more modern. Dokken’s style at this point has really come into its own. This was probably one of the later tracks just based on the sound of the mix.

“Back in the Streets” reverts back to some of that classic production style. The feel of this track reminds me a little bit of old Rush stuff. A great song with a lot of upbeat energy.

“Hit and Run” encapsulates the very essence of the Dokken sound for years to come while the track “Broken Heart” almost has a punk rock vibe to it. The quality of the recording and the upbeat tempo has echoes of bands like The Ramones and the Sex Pistols.

The last 2 tracks “Liar” and “Prisoner” are live recordings that showcase yet another dimension of Dokken’s talent – the band’s live prowess. “Liar” has a high energy and upbeat feel while “Prisoner” slows things down a bit and is maybe the perfect power ballad to round out this collection of tracks.

The album is a fantastic trip down memory lane for Dokken fans. A collection of songs that shows you the band’s roots but has enough new material that it manages not to feel like a novelty release.

Definitely worth a spin for Dokken fans and fans of golden-era metal in general! Available everywhere on Friday – 8/28/2020

Order / Pre order: