Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dokken vs. Chicken

Sometime after my 6th grade fascination with Lionel Richie and before I became obsessed with the Rolling Stones, my very favorite band in the world was Dokken.

I know how that sounds; even hard rock fans from the 80's don't get this. Sure, Dokken was a decent band. Sure they had their hits.

But, come on, no one picks Dokken as their favorite band.

Well, I did.

I was taken in by George Lynch's guitars. I was taken in by those 1980's videos - both excellent and awful. I was taken in by the tension that was a big part of their style and songcraft - most immediately linked to the Sunset Strip scene, but most definitely influenced by early 80's European hard rock and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Plus, Dokken was something of a musician's band. Despite a rhythm section that never really set the world on fire, Lynch was a bona fide guitar virtuoso, and Dokken was an actual vocalist.

They weren't a party band and they weren't a delinquent band: they were musicians.

They just happened to be wearing clown suits. Or pirate costumes. Or possibly something they bought from a bunch of Puerto Rican drag queens.

And, of course, there was the feuding storyline between Don Dokken and George Lynch -- the sort of alpha-male bullshit that always builds a band's mystique that much more.

Still (and I don't retreat on my personal preferences very easily) sometimes I do wonder what I was thinking. A whole lot of those albums that I liked so much -- specifically Under Lock and Key and Back for the Attack -- just didn't age very well. I still struggle to identify the culprit, though my gut says that it had something to do with the occasionally-embarrassing dramatics of Mr. Dokken's vocals and lyrics.

(Fucking hell, "Kiss of Death" is a MOTHERFUCKER of a tune, but thanks to the vocals and lyrics, the verses of that song are a fucking drag. How could I have known, indeed...DON?).

((To some extent that's not fair....but if you've ever found yourself torn over whether or not to love or loathe the Scorpions, Dio, or even the mighty Iron Maiden, then you should know EXACTLY what I'm talking about)).

Anyway, time went on and by 1989 or so my brother had taken me to see the Rolling Stones and I fully plunged into classic rock for the next few years. Goodbye to Dokken, and hello to a bunch of...uh....a bunch of old music that helped prevent me from embracing Jane's Addiction or the Pixies when it might have actually "meant something", as they say.

Oh, well.

Dokken chugged along, but they never really could sound quite right after the 80's. Don brought in new players on top of new players, but they never struck gold again.

Until now.

Congrats, Don. You have finally upstaged George.