Long Way Home


CMC International Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


Dokken (the band) and I go way back. They were the first band I saw in a concert setting, back in summer 1986, opening for Loverboy. I've always held a special place for them in my heart. A few years ago, I trashed their Shadowlife CD on this site - and to this day, that review (and CD) make me cringe.

But that's ancient history, or so it would seem. Dokken's last studio CD, Erase The Slate, was a refreshing breath of air for a band that had replaced George Lynch with former Winger guitarist Reb Beach. As an opening act for Def Leppard for a concert in Cedar Rapids, I felt the band had never sounded better. I was lucky enough to interview Jeff Pilson in person prior to their set and life seemed to be on an upswing. There was a rekindled energy in Pilson and enthusiasm for the band. The live CD that followed, Live From The Sun, successfully captured the energy I saw that cold December night.

Fast forward a bit and you arrive at 2002 and the release of the band's latest offering Long Way Home. In the presskit, the band talks about being asked to release another Under Lock And Key or Back For The Attack. That's nothing new. Fans have been asking Metallica for another Master Of Puppetsmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 or ... And Justice For All for years. What's interesting is Dokken's response, which is that great bands, like Led Zeppelin, evolve and grow. So with that in mind, I can really see the value of this release. Gone are the trademark Lynch/Beach riffs and 80s hair metal cliches. This is the 2002 version of Dokken which is without Beach and longtime bassist Jeff Pilson. Replacing them are guitarist John Norum (known for his work with Europe) and bassist Barry Sparks. Drummer Mick Brown and vocalist Don Dokken round out the quartet.

I've really had to let this release grow on me. I kept waiting for a riff in the "In My Dreams" vein to rip through my ears. Or a scorching instrumental like "Mr. Scary." Or a ballad I could sink my heart into like "Walk Away" or "Alone Again."

They deliver the ballad, but there's not a real scorching riff to be found on this release. Opener "Sunless Days" comes closest, but it just doesn't measure up, not because it isn't Lynch or Beach playing - - it just isn't a strong riff. The following track, "Little Girl," has a Led Zeppelin-influenced groove during the verse but delivers a strong mid-tempo push.

Third track "Everbody Needs (To Be With Someone)" epitomizes a pet peeve my neighbor at work and I share. Why name a song and then have a subtitle in paranthesis? Just call the song "Everybody Needs To Be With Someone." Guitarist Norum works hardest on the next track, "You," with one of the better riffs.He saves the strongest riff for "Under the Gun" which captures the energy of the song "Erase The Slate" and sounds closest to "Lightning Strikes Again" or "Turn On The Action" (from Breaking the Chains). Drummer Brown creates a driving drumbeat upon which Dokken pulls off his best performance. "I've Found" is another strong track, opening with an emotional lead from Norum and strings. Dokken adds an equally emotional vocal delivery.

There's a lot, in the big picture, that a release like this does for Dokken. I can understand how this release will fit into the big picture. Tracks "Sunless Days," "You" and "Under The Gun" would be my vote to find their way into the band's set list, espeically the mid-tempo stomp of "You." This release allows the band to have a more diverse repository of songs to choose from when constructing a live set and I appreciate that. For this release, by itself, I don't think it stands on its own as Dokken's greatest achievement. I just pulled out Under Lock And Key and Tooth And Nail this week, to give me a bit of perspective for writing this review. I think that this CD will please Dokken fans to the extent that they understand how this release will fit into a long and hopefully never-ending career.

I'm giving this release a B, mainly because I understand the "big picture" of this release.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.