Dokken – The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 (Album Review)

For many old time Classic 1980s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal fans, the name Dokken immediately conjures up memories of finely produced and well written Rock songs like “Into the Fire,” “It’s Not Love,” “Dream Warriors,” and “Tooth and Nail.” At first listen, the voice of founder and Lead Singer Don Dokken resonates in somber fashion over the hard hitting guitar of the amazing George Lynch and the pulsating rhythm section made up of Bassist Jeff Pilson and Drummer Mick Brown. With a unique sound, Dokken would become one of the biggest Rock acts of the 1980s thanks to platinum selling albums like their debut, 1981’s Breaking the Chains.

While Dokken’s legacy will always be remembered for their tremendous run during the mid to late 1980s, there is a period of a few years which Don Dokken was just like any other up-and-coming rocker just trying to make it in the music business. After years on the shelf, Dokken is now releasing a new LP of old and rare material entitled The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 set to drop on Friday August 28, 2020 thanks to Silver Lining Music.

At the dawn of a new era, The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 consists of eleven tracks, however, some hardcore Dokken fans may recognize six cuts from the 1989 EP, Back In The Streets, which went unreleased except in bootleg form. These tracks are from a time when Don Dokken would fly to Hamburg, Germany to work on the songs with Producer Michael Wagener (Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Metallica) and to play some live shows. As far as his band, during these years Don Dokken was the only member of Dokken who would go on to be part of the classic line up. Returning to California, Don Dokken was armed with some raw and gritty sounding Rock tracks that, until now, have never truly seen the light of day.

As stated earlier, The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 features some raw and gritty sounding material which shows the youth of Dokken yet it also lends a hand in seeing what Don Dokken and future members would be capable of achieving. To unveil The Lost Songs: 1978-1981, “Step Into The Light” is laid back and stands out with Don Dokken’s trademark vocal sound. Next, “We’re Going Wrong” is edgy with a little mean guitar before the ballad “Day After Day.” Following this up, a somber “Rainbows” gives way to the distortion soaked “Felony.” Firing it up, “No Answer” answers the call for a big time Dokken sounding guitar riff.

Ready for more, “Back In The Streets” is a jangly number while “Hit And Run” is a quintessential 1980’s style burner that for some fans will be reminiscent of Def Leppard’s 1981 track, “Another Hit And Run.” As if no Rock musician has ever had one, “Broken Heart” says it all and sounds like it could be one of Dokken’s earliest songs. A double dose, the last two tracks were recorded live in Hamburg, Germany as “Liar” is a heavy piece with some nice Don Dokken falsetto and “Prisoner” gifts a slow and heavy vibe to close things out.

Overall, The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 is a release which showcases Dokken as a band who if they had only ever heard these eleven tracks, a music fan would definitely form the opinion that this is a band who could go on to do big things. Even more interesting, tracks like “Hit And Run” “Prisoner,” and “No Answer” stand out as tracks that could have easily been on any of Dokken’s platinum selling albums. That being said, The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 is a cool look into the very early years of Dokken and the most die hard of fans will likely enjoy traveling back in time. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 3 out of 5 stars.

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