Live From The Sun


CMC International Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The rebirth of Dokken should have been complete by now.

With their last studio effort Erase The Slate, any doubts about whether Don Dokken and crew could still carry the torch of hard rock should have been erased. New addition Reb Beach proved, both on record and live at a show I saw at Chicago's House Of Blues, that he was more than an adequate guitarist to fill George Lynch's shoes -- so much so that the tag "former Winger member" should be permanently retired from any future description.

Yes, Dokken should have been primed for that return to glory. But something is missing on their latest release (and third live disc) Live From The Sun. And for once, I think I know what it is... but let's not give out all our secrets in only the third paragraph.

Recorded in November 1999 in Anaheim, California, Dokken and crew do an admirable job, plowing through a balanced collection of new and old songs to the delight of a friendly crowd. The two tracks from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Erase The Slate, "Maddest Hatter" (why this one wasn't a hit single, I will never understand) and "Erase The Slate," just go to demonstrate how strong an effort this album was, and how Dokken, Beach, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Wild Mick Brown can still deliver the goods, even after nearly 20 years together.

Yet one newer song doesn't have the same muster -- namely, "Too High To Fly" off of Dysfunctional. I'll admit I considered this song to be a low point in the Chicago show, and I'll also concede that this version keeps the morality play to a minimum. But compared to other songs on the disc, it's not the strongest choice that the band could have made. (Side note: after having the privilege to talk to Don Dokken after their Chicago gig, I can understand why they included it.)

If you pick this disc up looking only for the classics, there is plenty on Live From The Sun to make you happy. With Beach adding his own unique six-string signatures to tracks like "Kiss Of Death," "Alone Again" and "In My Dreams," Dokken show that these songs still pack a punch. The only disappointment: "The Hunter" is missing a little bit of the magic from other versions I've heard.

For all of its good performances, Live From The Sun has one tragic flaw: it doesn't allow the listener to get into the show the same way they would if they were in the front row of the same concert. This gets us to what's missing -- the visual aspect of Dokken as a band. Like many other live albums before this one (and thousands that will follow), it is insanely difficult to capture that raw emotion and bottle it into a plastic and aluminum disc. Try as hard as Dokken did, that energy just doesn't come through. (With the promise of this show being released on DVD and video later this year, I'd like to think that some of that magic will be rediscovered.)

I don't want to sound like Live From The Sun is a bad disc -- there's plenty on this disc to please Dokken fans, and will tide them over until the next studio effort (which is supposedly going to be out late this year). But this disc does serve as a reminder that a live album is rarely the best substitute for being at the show in person.

Rating: C+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen 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.