The classic original lineup of rock super-group Dokken (vocalist Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown) reunited to play the famous Loud Park Festival in Japan, and they do not disappoint with Return To The East Live 2016, which also includes a new studio track and two acoustic reworkings of classic tracks.
This is Dokken’s third live album recorded in Japan, and the production is excellent. The drums come through with an awesome punch, and listeners can enjoy every single note, bend, and wail George Lynch became famous for. Don Dokken’s vocals are produced with a “close-up” feel in the first tracks, and more “silvery” effects on the latter half of the record, but regardless, all four musicians execute their classic hits with absolute precision and credible passion. For me, it was especially enjoyable to hear the newest live version of “It’s Not Love,” since that particular song has always been a blueprint for the perfect rock song in terms of rich instrumentation and potent dynamics.
In terms of other memorable moments on the record, Lynch is spectacular with his performances in “Kiss of Death” and “Tooth and Nail,” just as the drums are especially good in “Unchain the Night” and (again) “Tooth and Nail.” Still, listeners will most probably agree that every one of these epic classic hits are performed with a wonderful mix of technique and feel, things treasured on live records that so often come out audibly distant and emotionally stale.
The studio tracks are exceptional. “It’s Another Day” contains a heartfelt vocal, a bad-ass riff, and a lead guitar section that stands out, demonstrating for us the reason that Lynch, (wielding his custom-made, awesome ESP product), should be considered a part of that elite group of all-time greats, including Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen.
The two acoustic tracks, “Heaven Sent” and “Will the Sun Rise,” offer stellar vocal performances by Don Dokken, and exceptional lead guitar overlays that in themselves define the original appeal of this band. An outstanding record, especially for Dokken fans.
(released April 20, 2018 on Frontiers Records)
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Watch Dokken – “In My Dreams” Live