DOKKEN – From Conception: Live 1981

  • 9/10
    DOKKEN - From Conception: Live 1981 - 9/10


Frontiers Records
Release Date: March 23, 2007

User Review
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The music scene in the early to late 80’s was dominated by bands full of grown men in spandex sporting long hair, “poofed” and teased with hairspray, and strategically torn T-shirts. The music consisted of strong hooks, driving rhythms dominated by a Charvel guitar sound, and plenty of melody. Dokken was, and is, one of the best of those bands, but their rise to stardom wasn’t always an easy one.

Originally, the band’s exceptional debut, Breakin’ The Chains (yes the spelling is correct!), was produced and engineered by power hitters Michael Wagener and Dieter Dierks and published outside of the USA via France’s Carrere Records. This vinyl collector’s item is still owned by a few meticulous and diehard Dokken fans, as this version never made a transition to CD. The debut garnered success in Europe and even included a tour. Ironically, the band was still lacking a USA record deal, even though their roots began on the shores of Los Angeles, which was a popular haven back then for the genre dubbed “Hair Metal.” In 1982, Elektra Records signed Dokken and they went on to release a slightly different mix dubbed Breaking The Chains (notice the spelling change?) in the States. The original Breakin’ The Chains version contains some different mixes and titles of songs. “Paris Is Burning” was originally called “Paris” and is actually a studio version. The original debut release also contained a song called “We’re Illegal,” which was later turned into “Live to Rock.” Of course, the group went on to achieve multi-platinum success and reached headlining status before first breaking up in 1988.

Fast forward to the year 2006 when Don Dokken is asked to remix the original Breaking The Chains tapes for a 25th anniversary release (it’s hard to imagine that early Dokken and “Hair Metal” are now deemed “Classic Rock”). Imagine while digging through the archives Don comes across some tapes labelled “Dokken Live.” After not recognizing some of the songs on the tapes, Don calls Mick and both of them reminisce and remember that these live tapes were recorded while the band was trying to get a record deal in the States. As Don puts it … “the tapes were moldy and I wasn’t sure they would be able to be played, but after baking them in an oven, transferring them straight to a hard drive and spending a month mixing …” a new, vintage Dokken live album is born and aptly named From Conception Live 1981.

Call it self-preservation or magic in the re-mixing, but the sound quality of this live album is exceptionally good after twenty-six years of fermenting! The mix itself is strong as even a casual listen reveals that all parties are distinctly heard; Don’s vocals, George’s guitar, Jeff’s bass, and Mick’s drums. The show from end to end is all music without a lot of bullshit. No long drawn out tales between songs or long introductions. Back then, the band had to be concerned about getting their music and message across in a limited space (presumably as a back-up band, hence only ten total tracks here). On the flip side, the crowd noise is only present between tracks, but the raw power is still present during the performance.

Presumably, all Dokken fans know what to expect from the vintage songs on tap here. Noteworthy are “Nightrider,” which comes across very powerful as a live track, as does “Live To Rock” and this version of “Breaking The Chains.” So the question remains, how about the “previously unreleased tracks” and the Lynch guitar solo? The unreleased tracks seem very comfortable sandwiched between the released material with “Hit And Run” being a highlight, which rides on a distinct bobbing “Juan Crocier-like” bass line. Surprisingly, one of the unreleased tracks, “Liar,” appears to have been the encore. The Lynch guitar solo is classic George and won’t disappoint. “Dokkenites” will be able to envision the shirtless Lynch complete with “skunk hairdo” and skull guitar, belting out this solo … even though it only lasts a mere three minutes.

Bottom line, this a wonderful live release for any Dokken fan, especially diehards who still revel in the raw intensity of their debut album. It’s an “official” release, includes the de facto Dokken line-up (even though Juan Croucier material would be exciting to hear), includes three songs never released, and features a wonderful, early Lynch guitar solo. It might be vintage and a complete flashback, but like a fine wine it ends all too quickly with only ten tracks here. Even so, now more than ever: “Dokken … rhymes with Rockin’”! A must buy for all Dokken fans, you will not be disappointed!!!


Paris * Goin’ Down * In The Middle * Young Girls * Hit And Run * Nightrider * Guitar Solo * Live To Rock * Breaking The Chains * Liar


Don Dokken – Vocals
George Lynch – Guitar
Jeff Pilson – Bass
Mick Brown – Drums


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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