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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Dokken - 2008 Lightning Strikes Again
Dokken - 2008 Lightning Strikes Again

ARTIST: Dokken
ALBUM: Lightning Strikes Again
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Don Dokken - vocals * Jon Levin - guitars * Barry Sparks - bass * Mick Brown - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Standing On The Outside * 02 Give Me A Reason * 03 Heart to Stone * 04 Disease * 05 How I Miss Your Smile * 06 Oasis * 07 Point Of No Return * 08 I Remember * 09 Judgement Day * 10 It Means * 11 Release Me * 12 This Fire



L.A melodic rockers Dokken seem to have struck a vein of recent interest on this site lately. Whether you buy into their earlier releases or not, the band have been around in various guises for the better part of twenty years or more. so they are still hanging in there. Sometimes it's a case of reverting back to what works best for you to continue being relevant in the cruel harsh world of hard rock. The ultimate in reverting back was touched on by former guitarist George Lynch, who stated recently that he would 'bet money on it' for a full-blown reunion of their most classic lineup of messrs Dokken, Lynch, Pilson and Brown - either this year (2008) or next. Whether it happens remains to be seen. In the meantime, Don Dokken puts another version of the band up for show with the latest release 'Lightning Strikes Again'. In the context of Dokken, if the album title sounds familiar then it should be.. it is a former song of theirs after all. Mind you Don could've chosen a title like 'Bullets To Spare', 'Seven Thunders' or 'Dream Warriors'.. any of which would've suited much better than LSA in my opinion! The past few releases by this band haven't captured my imagination in any major way. 1995's 'Dysfunctional' and all the albums since have successful managed to bypass my radar, though to be fair I should've dropped in for a listen on some of those efforts.. 'Erase The Slate' being a good example. I may yet get to that one. Their last album though, 2004's 'Hell To Pay' did little to give fans much hope that a return to the classic 80' sound was ever going to happen. Don must've taken notice, because a return is definitely detected on LSA. One would be hard pressed to say that guitarist Jon Levin brings a new identity to the band. I'm pretty certain that former Warlock six-stringer does however.. the George Lynch like overtones drift over the soundscape like a ghost through the ruins.. not to say that LSA is ruinous.. it isn't. I enjoyed it.. Ok, lets have a listen..

The Songs
One of the key elements to the Dokken sound was George Lynch's guitar sound. In more ways than one, that is adequately covered off by Levin. The other key aspect was Don's vocals. It's clear that he can't quite match the ability to reach the levels he did twenty years ago - but this is compensated by the way the songs are written, giving him the capacity to operate within a framework without doing too much damage. In several parts his vocals are caught out, but I came into this review knowing full well that fact.

I thought the opener 'Standing On The Outside' was a pretty impressive introduction. It's as close to primetime Dokken as you're ever gonna hear in the 21st century. Well done.

'Give Me A Reason' continues the strong start, the song just keeps ticking over with continuous use of vocal harmonies and the chorus just being mind-melded into your head.

'Heart To Stone' contains the same sort of vibe and structure as tunes off the 'Tooth And Nail album, though without the same dynamics. This one is a grower. Third track in and all is good.. so far.

One of the few tracks I didn't like on the album was 'Disease'. The downtuned guitars, and purposefully distorted vocals are obviously trying to reflect the content of the song itself, but really, Don didn't need to go there. Let's try and keep the happy-face thing happening aye?

Much better is the ballad 'How I Miss Your Smile'. It's heartfelt and delicate and shows a better side of Don's songwriting. Thumbs up for this one!

'Oasis' is mid-tempo, and in terms of Dokken's vast history, this tune would be considered to be rather ordinary by comparison. It's part acoustic - but mostly electric. It does lack a bit of feel in places, it needed to be filled out a bit more I reckon, with keys or more harmony vocals.

Sounding more like typical 80's Dokken is 'Point Of No Return'. The riffing is similar to 'Tooth And Nail' and though the tempo is fast, it's not at breakneck speed like the aforementioned track. Not bad however.

'I Remember' is another mainly acoustic ballad with electric interludes. This is the album's sing-a-long moment, yep, imagine the cigarette lighters in the air. It's melodic, and gets a pass mark.

I quite liked 'Judgment Day', again the reference to their 80's past is strong, Levin's guitars sound as if they've been passed through several stereo chorus pedals - sounding terrific. Great tone. Don sounds good here too without having to strain so much.

There's not too much variation on 'It Means'. Levin's riffs operate in a cyclic mode, the framework for this song is kept in check (i.e. within the confines of a few notes only) and is not much of a stretch musically. Mick Brown must be bored playing this sort of stuff.. it's kinda gloomy too. Turn the lights on boys!

More mid-tempo rocking is to be had on 'Release Me'. By now, I am totally acknowledging Levin as a guitar-player 'tour-de-force'. He is holding it together nicely, ensuring that past fans have something to grasp onto with his precision and fluid playing.

Finishing up with 'This Fire', this one sounds uncanningly like a Loudness song in terms of the riffs used. Didn't like the vocal arrangement though, however the track smokes along on the spine of a well worn rock backbone. The end sequence at the tail of the song - about ordering thin crust pizza is a little gem..

In Summary
Surprisingly, after having listen to this in its entirety, it stacks up ok. The star of the show is Jon Levin. This guy now has some street credibility to form his own band and go out and make a name for himself - so long as he doesn't go out and rip off George Lynch's trademark style. In the ever-changing turnstile world of Dokken, it would not surprise me that Lynch and Pilson rejoin for a chance at former glories. However with Don's voice in the shape that it's in, I'm not utterly sure that would be a good move. For what it's worth, 'Lightning Strikes Again' is not the total write-off people have been telling me it is. Sure, a couple of ill-advised additions to the album might drop its rating a couple of half-notches, but considering there are 12 tracks here, it still leaves a good majority in the very good category. For doubters, I would suggest taking a punt with this album. Put it this way, there is more certainty in getting positive mileage out of this album than what China is getting for their PR efforts in Tibet.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
Somehow I overlooked this review a couple of months ago... This is a good return to the legendary Dokken sound of the 80s. Don's voice isn't quite what it used to be, but the arrangements on this album compensate for that. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I've been enjoying this.
#2 | YNGWIEVIKING on April 14 2008 17:31:53
A very good CD clap US HARD ROCK i think there is some really good songs and JON LEVIN is the perfect DEADRINGER for MR SCARY (george LYNCH back in the days!) same sound and same stellar playing..... huge! 'Standing on the Outside', 'Give Me A Reason', 'Point Of No Return', 'Judgement Day' and 'This Fire' are very near from their classics tracks music! Yes DON's VOCALS are lower in key confusedbut good anyway Annoy!
Like WHITESNAKE's 'good to be bad' is the best album, we can hope from them in 2008 Yes
BUY IT or listen to f***ing N****na for ever! sarcasmmusic
#3 | reyno-roxx on April 30 2008 10:09:41
It's worth noting that the co-producer behind this record is Tim David Kelly, who is an artist in his own right with his band Kicking Harold. They were signed to MCA for a time.
#4 | gdazegod on April 30 2008 14:21:37
Kicking Harold are reviewed here, there is an interview with Tim here as well. KH were very modern rock.. back at the turn of the century/decade.
#5 | Hardlover on March 19 2009 15:31:52
This may be return to the 80s sound but the majority of songs is rather average and nothing really sticks to you. Don's voice seems to be bland. I think the albums of some Dokken followers (Seven Wishes) are better.
Only decent release, i'm afraid. 7/10
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