DOKKEN Lightning Strikes Again – CD Review

     April 27, 2008

(Release Date: May 13, 2008 on Rhino Records)

Dokken fans rejoice, because this is the record you have been waiting for since 1987’s classic Back for the Attack. Lightning Strikes Again, its name taken from a song title from the band’s most successful album, 1985’s Under Lock and Key, is the record the band would likely have made as Back for the Attack’s successor in the late 80s, had Dokken not gone on hiatus just as the glam-metal scene was on the verge of imploding, giving way to the crunchy and depressing sounds of the Pacific Northwest.

Dokken would resurface in the mid-90s and continue to release records to varying degrees of success, weathering key personnel changes as original guitarist, George Lynch, and bassist, Jeff Pilson, would move on. 1999’s Erase the Slate, featuring guitarist Reb Beach, was a particularly strong effort in trying to bring back that classic, hard-rocking melodic sound that Dokken so beautifully perfected in their heyday, but even that record pales in comparison to the outstanding effort that is Lightning Strikes Again.

Vocalist and band namesake, Don Dokken, is joined by longtime original drummer, Mick Brown, and returning members Jon Levin on guitar and Barry Sparks on bass. Any rock record has to be a team effort, but the true MVP on Lightning Strikes Again is guitarist Jon Levin. Levin’s guitar sound for most of the record is so eerily reminiscent to that of George Lynch, I am convinced that he used one of Lynch’s ESPs to record certain cuts. Levin tears this record apart, masterfully laying down riffs and solos that will bring a tear to the eye of any listener who yearns for a return to a simpler time from their youth when their favorite axe-slinger wasn’t afraid to shred apart their fiddle.

Lightning Strikes Again opens with an explosive one-two-three punch to the gut, with the first three tracks sounding like they were written and recorded back in the mid to late 80s. The opening track, Standing on the Outside, hits you over the head with that classic Dokken sound – guitars in full-force, soaring vocal harmonies, and thunderous drums. Several other cuts on the record follow along in the same vein, including album highlight This Fire; however, not every track follows this classic Dokken formula.

Lightning Strikes Again includes several songs that come from a more contemporary, moodier place, most noticeably the aggressive and dark Disease, which almost seems out of place amongst this collection of truly great melodic rockers. Also included are two obligatory ballads, How I Miss Your Smile and I Remember, but each falls far short of measuring up to the classic Alone Again off of Tooth and Nail.

Without a doubt, Lightning Strikes Again is Dokken’s finest record since Back for the Attack. While I question the inclusion of two or three tracks that don’t quite fit the mood and sound the band was clearly trying to recapture, you have to give Dokken credit for knowing what their long-time fans have been waiting for, and delivering a collection of songs that really rock. Welcome back, Dokken. We’ve missed you.

4 Stars (out of 5)

Track Listing

· Standing On The Outside
· Give Me A Reason
· Heart To Stone
· Disease
· How I Miss Your Smile
· Oasis
· Point Of No Return
· I Remember
· Judgment Day
· It Means
· Release Me
· This Fire


· Don Dokken: Vocals
· Jon Levin: Guitar
· Mick Brown: Drums
· Barry Sparks: Bass

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