Lost Tapes Found!
Album: The Lost Songs: 1978-1981
Label: Silver Lining Music
Style: Melodic Hard Rock
Release Date: 08/25/2020
Don Dokken wildly found a group of tapes he had in storage that he had forgotten about, and it turns out they were filled with old recordings he made before Dokken became an official hit, from back in the late-70s through to the early 80s (1978-1981), right before the release of the very first Dokken record, Breakin’ The Chains. Eleven songs in total, we get a glimpse at the formative years of a band that went on to be a platinum-selling act, but in these early days, was just a guy writing songs and recording demos while dreaming of making it big one day.
So what do we have here? It’s an odd mix, one that’s a bit to the detriment of the overall record, but also very cool when considered on its own. Some of the songs have obviously been re-recorded or had new parts dubbed over. You can hear the difference almost immediately between tracks like opener “Step Into the Light,” which obviously contains a modern Don Dokken vocal and smoother-sounding instrumental work by the current version of Dokken, and the more obvious rawness (vocally and otherwise) of follow-up track “We’re Going Wrong.” Regardless, this is a great collection and it’s very interesting to listen to a talent that was in its birthing stages, no matter if they went back and beefed things up or not. The Wizard prefers the rawer, mostly-unedited tracks to the newer versions, but they’re all pretty great. Of particular standout is “Rainbows,” which despite its five minute running time, feels a lot more epic than first appears. Repeated listens and this one grows by leaps and bounds, a “ballad” that has some real heft. All of these tracks show off their 70s-rock influences bleeding into some NWOBHM, including their more polished approached to Van Halen-style California hard rock. The assemblage is rounded off with four tracks from Dokken’s Back in the Streets demo, including a snarling version of “Felony.”
All in all, this is a fascinating chronicle of the early days of a band that was yet to be, but would soon blossom into stardom. Not only that, it’s got some really good songs on here, many of which have never been heard before. In a perfect world, the Wizard would have loved for this to be a two-disc release, one containing the reworked and re-recorded versions, and the other disc containing solely the original tapes in their original condition/version. It’s not a perfect world, but this is a damned good consolation prize. Fans of 70s/80s melodic hard rock should find this very pleasing, indeed.
The Wizard Has Spoken!