REVIEW: Dokken – Tooth and Nail (1984)

DOKKEN – Tooth and Nail (1984 Elektra)

Dokken always served up large helpings of cheese. Within the framework of 80s hard rock, their second album Tooth and Nail has been elevated to the status of classic.  Produced by Tom Werman and armed with nine great songs, Dokken were poised to move on to the big leagues.

The brief instrumental opener “Without Warning” leads directly into the full speed chug of “Tooth and Nail”.  George Lynch was the obvious star on guitar, but “Wild” Mick Brown certainly blows the doors off with his high speed drum work.  Don Dokken could hit the high notes when required, aided and abetted by bassist Jeff Pilson.  The quartet could go hard or soft, or right down the middle.  “Just Got Lucky” is perfect in the centre.  Not too heavy, boasting a chorus that sticks, and a fiery hot guitar solo.

The lesser known “Heartless Heart” gets by for its Lynch chugging, though its chorus is left wanting.  Even chuggier:  “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, which Lynch leaves a smoking ruin:  Don screaming over the wastes left behind by the incessant rocking.  And that’s side one.

Dokken were especially good at slower, heavy songs.  “When Heaven Comes Down” is one of those.  Lynch’s riff holds the fort while Don conjures apocalyptic imagery.  Then a classic:  “Into the Fire”.  This song has it all.  The chorus and riff are topped only by a killer middle eight and a flammable solo.  You can pass on the cliche “Bullets to Spare” which sounds like a Quiet Riot B-side.  But don’t miss “Alone Again”, one of the best ballads from the entire decade.  It defines the term “power ballad” all by itself.  From the words, to the melody, to the legendary Lynch solo, “Alone Again” sounds as good today as it did then.

Finishing it off you’ll get the incendiary “Turn On The Action”, a cross between Van Halen, Motley Crue, and 2/3rds of the Sunset Strip.  It’s a good closer, but derivative and absolutely a product of its time and place.

Tooth and Nail is two or three songs shy of 5/5 rating.  Though you may debate it among yourselves, Back For the Attack and Dysfunctional are superior albums.  Tooth and Nail, however, has something they don’t have, and that is a high percentage of Dokken concert classics.  “Alone Again”, “Just Got Lucky”, “Into the Fire” and “Tooth and Nail” are all cornerstones of a Dokken collection.

4/5 stars

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10 comments

  1. Damn, man. That’s a quick turn around time with that Dokken review. I’m impressed! Thanks for this one. This was the third album I ever owned on the CD format, after VH’s 5150 and Rush’s A Show of Hands.

    The production on this album is horrible. I blame Roy Thomas Baker for that distorted snare and the awful brittle sound. It’s his trademark. Poor Michael Wagener probably did the best he could mixing this. If you listen to right before the guitar solo you can here the “t” from the “take me back” section (the bridge after the solo), like they forgot to mute the vocals until the last second. Nice production flub for those with attentive ears.

    Under Lock and Key is my favorite, I think that one is their peak for production and songwriting. “Slippin’ Away” is the only dud, the rest is bulletproof. Will you do Breaking the Chains next? That’s such a weird uneven record and I’d like your opinion on it. I definitely prefer the remix of that album to the one they released independently in 1981. “Nightrider” rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long story short: I didn’t turn this around in record time. I had it locked and loaded a week ago.

      HMO told me that Rock Candy had a sweet 2 CD Beast From the East so I put an Amazon order together, including a CD of Tooth & Nail to replace my old tape.

      I’m gonna have to get Breaking the Chains and Under Lock and Key to complete my Dokken CDs.

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      1. Yeah, Japan originally got that 2 CD Beast from the East, and the tape and vinyl had the bonus songs already. Just the original CD everywhere else got screwed on tracks.

        Yeah, you definitely need those two discs!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have the vinyl as well, and I saw the Japanese CD once upon a time. But I figured it was time to get the full 2 CD set since it is now affordable. Kind of like Finyl Vinyl by Rainbow — I had the vinyl for years because the CD didn’t have all the tracks. Same with Live After Death.

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  2. This one and Back For The Attack are my favs of the Dokken catalog. Actually all there 80’s input was pretty decent. Really no duds amongst them. I thought of a doing a rewrite on Back for the Attack but like I said I’m just thinking about it.
    Dysfunctional is real good too. But I’m just yapping about the 80’s output.
    Great writeup

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