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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Dokken - 1985 Under Lock And Key
Dokken - 1985 Under Lock And Key

ARTIST: Dokken
ALBUM: Under Lock And Key
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: E2 60458
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1986, Elektra, 9 60458-2 * 2009, Flashback Records, 60458


LINEUP: Don Dokken - vocals * George Lynch - guitars * Jeff Pilson - bass * Mick Brown - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Unchain The Night * 02 The Hunter * 03 In My Dreams * 04 Slippin' Away * 05 Lightnin' Strikes Again * 06 It's Not Love * 07 Jaded Heart * 08 Don't Lie To Me * 09 Will The Sun Rise * 10 Til' The Livin' End


If one was to research the term 1980's melodic hard rock, and associate the bands from that era, then Dokken would be right at the top of the list. The band, despite all of the alleged in-fighting and egos, still had the goods to deliver to metal fans and hard rock fans - equally. With a couple of albums behind them, the band, by 1985/1986, found themselves floating up to the top of the pile among their contemporaries. Backed by a big label, name producers, a proven songwriter in Don Dokken, and a guitar virtuoso in George Lynch, the band had reached a pinnacle of sorts with 1985's 'Under Lock And Key'. In my past, I had unfairly dismissed this album when compared to 'Breakin' The Chains' and 'Tooth And Nail'. Both of those efforts are favourites of mine, despite the low-key production on the former, and the ham-fisted delivery on the latter. Both had tracks which are lifelong friends. But to give the band its due, 'Under Lock And Key' is very strong on many counts too. Great production, some killer tracks bordering on 'near-metal', with the bulk of the material being spread between rock ballads and smooth melodic rockers - but with a razor sharp edge. It is no wonder then that the album did very well, eventually going platinum, the band going out on the road with Judas Priest and Twisted Sister during the 1986 year.

The Songs
Dokken are definitely walking a well-trodden path down the corridors of rock, but it is laden with confectionery booths along the way. Consider tracks like 'Unchain The Night', 'In My Dreams' and 'Don't Lie To Me'. All hard-edged but laced with lean drippings of candy. On the ballads, the band can claim a stake in the Lolly Factory with such offerings as 'Slipping Away' (sounding uncannily like a Strangeways tune), 'Jaded Heart' and to a lesser extent 'Will The Sun Rise'. Not forgetting efforts such as the mid-tempo and punchy pairing of 'The Hunter' and 'It's Not Love'. As stated before, the band fire up with a couple of metal oriented tunes. 'Lightning Strikes Again' contains some nice Thin Lizzy vocal moments a la their 'Thunder And Lightning' era. However, Don Dokken wailing away toward the end of the song does tend to grate a wee bit. However, the album closer 'Til The Living End' is akin to the fast and furious moments found on 'Turn On The Action' from their 'Tooth And Nail' platter. Some classic guitar riffing to be found here, and the band certainly go out with a bang on this track.

In Summary
An underrated album, it contains many great moments. Many found it difficult to understand how a band with this much going for them could be stricken with so much inner turmoil. A credit to them that they endured for another two albums before calling it quits at the end of the decade. Dokken (the band) would resurface in many guises later on in its history, but for many the best moments were to be seen and heard during the mid 80's - while the band were in their prime. If you see the CD going cheap on Ebay, pick it up. Certainly, the CD is a treasured item in my collection.

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#1 | Vincenzo on November 18 2007 17:06:38
Simply THE 'class metal' definitive album.
#2 | sabace on March 24 2008 19:21:46
#3 | jeffrey343 on January 21 2013 00:15:53
This came out my sophomore year in college, and it got quite a few spins on my turntable. Well, side 1 did at least. The first three songs are epic. "It's Not Love" is the other one I really like. I prefer their more mid-tempo material to their slower and faster stuff (with "Alone Again" being the exception). I much prefer the production of this to their first two. "Back For The Attack" has not been reviewed here yet, but it took the formula for this album and improved on it even more (IMHO).
#4 | super80boy on January 10 2016 15:31:04
Even though Dokken took a more commercial approach on this album, it's still one of their most complete albums. The opening trio of songs ('Unchain The Night', 'The Hunter' and 'In My Dreams') are balanced hard rockers. They really delivered on the mid-paced melodic hard rock/metal formula. 'It's Not Love' is another mid-paced standout.
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