Friday, September 20, 2013

Dokken - Breaking the Chains

This week (September 18th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Breaking the Chains, the debut album from American hard rock band Dokken. This record, which was released in Europe two years prior with different order and titles of songs, charted at number 136 on the US Billboard Album chart.

The band was named after lead singer and rhythm guitarist Don Dokken. The rest of the line-up included George Lynch (guitar), Juan Croucier (bass) and “Wild” Mick Brown (drums). Peter Baltes (bass) and Bobby Blotzer (drums) played on a number of the tracks as well, though they were not credited.

Side one opens with the title track. “Breaking the Chains”, which was ranked at number 62 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs, has a motivational message about getting out of a rut and moving on to more positive behavior. As a single, it went to number 32 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

The mid-tempo “In the Middle” tells of having feelings for someone who is involved with another. This was certainly one many teenagers could relate to.

The topic of getting involved with someone underage is explored on “Felony”.

“I Can’t See You” is up next. The singer pleads to be with a young woman whom he loves. The chorus, a denial of that request, clearly comes from her perspective.

“Live to Rock (Rock to Live)” kicks things back in gear with a mantra that, I would gather, got their fans chanting during live shows. I like the guitar solos on this one.

Side two hit’s the road at high speed with “Nightrider”.

“Seven Thunders”, with unexpected vocal harmonies on the chorus, is next. It has a prog-rock and metal blend to it that seems to work well.

“Young Girls”, as one would expect, is about precocious teenaged vixens. I wonder if I should remind Dokken of the third track on side one. By this point in 1983, he had just turned thirty.

“Stick to Your Guns” goes hand in hand with the album’s title track as far as giving the band’s audience some good advice.

Things close out with a live version of “Paris Is Burning”, recorded in Berlin in 1982. It really shows how the band was making progress since recording the other tracks; you can hear how they removed some of the restraints and really went for it.

I cannot recall for sure if I had heard any of this Dokken album back in the day. Getting ready to listen to Breaking the Chains today, I was anticipating a really heavy metal record. What I got, instead, was something more in line with Def Leppard who I enjoy quite a bit. Don Dokken’s vocals are pleasing to the ear, while the music by the entire band is very tight and quite commercial (which is good in my book). I can see this one making its way into my musical library somewhere in the future.

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