Occasionally you just need to step in the wayback machine, regardless of what hell hole it’s going to drop you off in. Sometimes you need to own your past and say the hell with it. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. No more red-cheeked embarrassment over something I liked when I was 14. At that time in my life it meant something to me. I’m not going to let my 41-year old curmudgeonly self ruin it for that mullet-wearing youth. So when the chance came up for me to own a piece of my hair metal youth for the mere price of $4.99 I really didn’t have to think about it much.
Dokken’s Back For The Attack was by far the most in-depth record to date for them. It was this epic, 13 track album filled with, well, Dokken songs. I was pretty damn stoked to see it at the Concord Mall on a trip with my uncle Mark and snagged it immediately. I was already familiar with “Standing In The Shadows” and “Burning Like A Flame”, and of course the excellent “Dream Warriors”, which I already owned on cassingle, with the b-side being a live version of “Paris Is Burning”. To have “Dream Warriors” on a proper album was exciting.
Well, much to my dismay Back For The Attack ended up being kind of a snooze fest. I think it’s their weakest record, honestly. And when it’s an hour-plus album that’s not a good thing. “Standing In The Shadows”, “Burning Like A Flame”, and the excellent instrumental “Mr. Scary” were highlights here(as well as “Dream Warriors”, natch), but overall this album was pretty damn boring. The follow-up, the live Beast From The East, wasn’t bad, and it had the lone new studio track “Walk Away” which was this hair metal ballad that for what it was wasn’t too bad. But for all intents and purposes Dokken were done after Back For The Attack.
So, if this album kinda stunk why buy it? Well, for “Dream Warriors” of course. And “Mr. Scary”. Honestly, Dokken were one of my favorite bands in my pre-teen and teen years. Their first three records were stellar in an age of many un-stellar rock albums. They towed the line between metal, pop, and glam quite nicely. Tooth and Nail is an LA metal scene classic. It was filled with speed metal riffage, pop elements, and decent balladry that you could impress that girl in math class with. Plus, my older brother had Tooth and Nail recorded on a Maxell tape back in 1984 and I couldn’t get over the massive guitar prowess of George Lynch. Under Lock And Key pretty much defined my seventh grade year. That album was solid start to finish. Back to Lynch, much like Warren Di Martini in Ratt, Lynch was the quiet guitar slinger. He kept to himself and amazed with his shredding skills. A great mix of finger tapping technique and speed picking, with plenty of arpeggios, Lynch was a muscular player that seemed to do fine “standing in the shadows”, as it were, to allow Don Dokken to play front man ego trips. “Alone Again”, “In My Dreams”, and “It’s Not Love” were classics of that age. Catchy but still enough grit to ’em to not make you feel emasculated as you blast it out of your(or your parent’s) car.
Listening to this record this afternoon I have to say it’s still kind of boring. Pretty stock-sounding. “Kiss of Death” isn’t terrible. “Prisoner” is decent pop radio metal. “Night By Night” sounds like sub par Def Leppard. “Heaven Sent” is in that meandering zone of attempting balladry with this tough guy attitude. Bleh. By this point in 1987 George Lynch seemed to just be going through the motions in his playing. Same runs, same riffs. Guys like Reb Beach, Nuno Bettencourt, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, and yes, even Yngwie Malmsteen would be surpassing him in every way possible within just a year or two of this album coming out. Still, when Don Dokken shut his face for “Mr. Scary” he seemed to pull some guitar magic out for this tasty 4 1/2 minutes. It’s some classic Lynch-ian riffage. Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown backed him up quite nicely on this one, too.
But still, there’s “Dream Warriors”. To have one of my favorite bands write and record the theme song for one of my most anticipated movies of 1987, well I was pretty stoked. They did not disappoint, both the film and the song. To be able to spin this song on vinyl and relive those vibes once again was something I couldn’t pass up. Will I be jamming to this record a whole lot? Nah. But when the mood strikes it’s comforting to know I can throw this album on and embarrass my kids with some meandering, boring hair metal. Or when I finally get to watch Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors with my son I can throw this bad boy on an cue up “Dream Warriors” and see that look of adoration(or disgust) on his face as I scream “Don’t wanna dream no more!!”, at the top of my lungs.