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Dokken: Return To The East Live 2016

It may have arrived a decade after the era of the truly classic live albums, but 1988’s Beast From The East by Dokken is still up there with the best of them. A double slab of molten hard melodic rock from one of America’s finest exponents of the under appreciated art, revealing the fire and fury the classic line-up of this band possessed. So, alluding to that album with their latest live release, Return To The East Live 2016, conjures up glory days of old and heightens expectations. But to say that this twelve track live recording fails to live up to those hopes would be an understatement of huge proportions.

Recorded two years ago, this show finds Dokken in the country that took them to their hearts more than any other, Japan; the reunited foursome of singer Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer ‘Wild’ Mick Brown openly admitting that they were getting back together for the money. With legendary bad blood between the frontman and the fretburner, few believed that it would ever happen, but if this recording is anything to go by, in the end it was all pretty much half assed and it’s no wonder that it didn’t last.

However, let’s deal with the good first. Opening with (I’ve only heard the audio for this release and haven’t seen the DVD package) a new studio recording, “It’s Another Day” surprises by being a decent stab at classic era Dokken bombast. Bearing a trademark Lynch riff and the sort of swooping guitar solo that only he could provide, the intention is clear and while the double D no longer has the power or range of before, the vocals still cut through reasonably well. This new blast won’t rival the band’s best material, but it does do a good job of reminding us why Dokken were so revered by so many. Two acoustic re-recordings add the closing bookend, the cleverly rearranged “Heaven Sent” and “Will The Sun Rise” playing to Dokken’s vocal strengths, with both also being similar enough to the originals to please fans, but different enough to make them worthwhile additions.

Unfortunately it’s what comes in between that falls short, the live show exposing frailties and failings that the ravages of time have attacked Dokken’s voice with. To the singer’s credit, he knows this to be a fact and rather than butcher his vocal lines, the decision has been made to completely change most of them, octaves and keys being altered all over the place. There’s also a noticeable lack of power behind the vocal forays, with an over easy attack sucking much of the life out of what once were razor sharp songs that cut deep and left an open wound in their wake. To be fair to Lynch, Pilson and Brown, the trio seldom put a foot wrong, even if the guitarist heads off piste more than once or twice too often, his legendary unwillingness to stick to the way these songs were recorded still strongly in evidence. He’s still a heck of a guitarist though and the absence of the fret-fuelled “Mr. Scary” seems an odd one when you consider the issues being exposed all too often elsewhere.

What doesn’t help matters is the manner in which all of this has been presented. Most live albums augment little areas, but here the crowd noise is simply ladled on top, with the ‘cheering’ being totally in your face one second and non existent the next. The worst offender is the bespoke intro to “Alone Again”, where Lynch noodles away in introspective tone as Dokken croons along contentedly. Underneath however is a crowd noise loop so obvious that you end up tuning into the rhythm of the repeated peaks and troughs of cheering and whistles and lose interest in what is meant to be holding your attention. How this made it to the finished recording, I’ve no idea.

I take no pleasure in lambasting this release, I was genuinely excited by its arrival and desperate to hear the new song it contained. To be fair, that one track and the two acoustic studio cuts do suggest that there might be life in the classic version of Dokken (if they could stand the sight of each other), but as a live entity, at least with Don behind the mic, this band are a spent force. Return To The East Live 2016 is easily the worst live album this band have released and as such it’s hard to suggest even the most dedicated fans should stump up money for it, especially when you consider that one full star below has been added on for the three studio tracks...

Track Listing
1. It’s Another Day (New Studio Track)
2. Kiss Of Death
3. The Hunter
4. Unchain The Night
5. When Heaven Comes Down
6. Breakin’ The Chains
7. Into The Fire
8. Dream Warriors
9. Tooth And Nail
10. Alone Again (Intro)
11. Alone Again
12. It’s Not Love
13. In My Dreams
14. Heaven Sent (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)
15. Will The Sun Rise (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)

1. Tooth And Nail
2. Unchain The Night
3. When Heaven Comes Down
4. Breakin’ The Chains
5. Into The Fire
6. Alone Again
7. It’s Not Love
8. Paris Is Burning
9. Kiss Of Death
10. The Hunter
11. Dream Warriors
12. In My Dreams
13. Behind the Scenes

Added: May 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Return To The East at Frontiers Records
Hits: 646
Language: english

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Dokken: Return To The East Live 2016
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-05-05 01:37:22
My Score:

With bad blood set aside to embark on a short tour of Japan in 2016, the classic Dokken lineup of George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, Mick Brown and Don Dokken, reunited to play the world famous Loud Park Festival in Japan. The performances were recorded and filmed and now Frontiers Music is set to issue “Return To The East Live 2016” on CD/DVD, Blu-Ray, Box Set and Vinyl.

"Return To The East Live 2016" features 15 track on CD, including one brand new studio song, along with two acoustic renditions of classic songs, "Heaven Sent" and "Will The Sun Rise". The DVD version features a different running order and includes special behind the scenes footage and 13 tracks in all. The CD opens with the new studio scorcher, "It's Another Day", that would fit easily with the "Back For The Attack" era of Dokken and features a fiery, guitar hero type of solo that only George Lynch can dish out. From there the live show kicks off with the a killer version of "Kiss Of Death" and finds the band firing on all cylinders, like it was 1987 all over again, with Lynch (as usual) stealing the show with his legendary guitar noodling pyrotechnics. Pilson and Brown hold everything down with their tight rhythm section and provide the necessary top notch backing vocals to assist Don Dokken's long faded vocals.

CD highlights are the furious "Tooth And Nail", the old MTV classics, "In My Dreams" and "The Hunter" and the heavy "When Heaven Comes Down". Let know one fool you, the star of this album is Mr. George Lynch! Lynch twists and turns and churns out iconic guitar licks on every single song that just serves to prove his legendary guitar status. Lynch torches out almost note for note versions of his amazing Dokken solos, the man just doesn't age at all. Now over 60 years old, Lynch is on fire on this live record and shows NO signs of slowing down, no matter how many side projects that he is a member of. The low-light of "Return To The East Live 2016" is quite simply Don Dokken. His vocals are so low now, that he is almost talking the lyrics through. As the band fires up "Kiss Of Death" and leads into the opening vocal lines, your anticipation ramps up to Don's first line....and then a deep, low spoken delivery is what you are given. Very disappointing. As you run through the CD, you begin to realize that Jeff Pilson's higher vocals are now what used to be Don's and also add in Mick Brown's great backing vocals to round out the "classic" Dokken sound.

Dokken's "Return To The East Live 2016", is a good sounding record of the classic Dokken band's reunion, but Don Dokken's vocals do bring down the overall vibe of these great tunes, but with Lynch, Pilson and Brown delivering the goods, they save the record. Hard core Dokken fans that have been clamoring for this reunion now have several options to re-live this reunion that none of us ever thought would happen again. Even with Don Dokken's weak vocals, the band themselves are on fire and make you wish that it was 1987 all over again. George Lynch rules!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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