The Elektra Albums 1983-1987 4CD and 5 Vinyl album Box Sets
For the Vinyl Box Set Review please watch the video above
Formed in the late 70s by vocalist and guitarist Don Dokken, the band Dokken shot to fame in the 80s, with their very enjoyable (and successful) blend of hard rock, glam and AOR. And BMG continue their fine series of album collections. This set, covering the band’s 80s Elektra period, does exactly what it is says on the tin; four albums, each with a nicely packaged digipak with original album booklet, all in a box. There’s plenty of scope for expansion (especially on the debut), but for a damn fine listen of a complete set of period albums, this does the job. And very well too.
The band’s 1983 debut full, Breaking The Chains, was originally released in the UK and Europe a year or two earlier (on Carrere), subsequently remixed and repackaged. Although technically a flop at the time, it is a fine mix of tunes that drive and rock. I Can’t See You is a real stomper, if commercial, but thoroughly enjoyable. There’s some fine work from lead guitarist George Lynch. Collectors may be interested in the (very limited) original LP, but for most purposes the 1983 LP is as good a listen as any.
The 1984 follow up, with new bassist Jeff Pilson, Tooth And Nail, was much more successful. Full blown hair metal, again mixing FM friendly rock and glam, saw beefed up production, lots of shred, and a fine album, surprising given the tensions (ego classes leading to a change of producer) during recording. The title track is intense, blistering, and shows the band and the individual members at their best. Just Got Lucky is a very fine tune, some good chords too.
The same line-up recorded the following year’s Under Lock And Key which gave more of the same, and then some. Hailed as their most complete album, there’s nod to Def Leppard, and a cliché or two, as was the style of the music at the time. But that’s no bad thing here, it’s another excellent listen enjoyable beginning to end. The Hunter is almost epic, In My Dreams exemplifies the layered vocals, and Lightning Strikes Again the crunchy guitars.
1987’s Back For The Attack was even more of a solid album. Running at about an hour, it’s longer and more intense than before, the band making a concerted effort but it doesn’t quite match the predecessor. Even so, it’s a fantastic album, some great noodling, and it’s almost too heavy to considered glam.
Individual album expansion aside (which I’m not too worried about on sets like this), I’m a little puzzled by the omission of Beast From The East, the excellent live album (also issued on Elektra), which would have rounded off the decade nicely.
Even so, the sound and packaging are excellent and a reminder of how good the studio albums were.