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4.5 out of 5 stars
Under Lock & Key
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Released in 1985, Under Lock and Key is Dokken's third album and marked a bit of a change of sound as it's not as heavy and raw as the band's previous album, Tooth and Nail (1984), or even its follow up Back For The Attack (1987). This one goes for a more polished and melodic approach that was popular during that decade but is overall just as good of an album, if not better than its predecessor. The band was obviously aiming at the charts with this release as they went towards a more commercial way. Under lock and Key features Dokken at it's as its best with some highly melodic and fun rocking songs that proves why Dokken is one of the better Hair/Glam-Metal bands. Dokken released some excellent albums in the 1980's and to me Under Lock and Key is perhaps their very best, it captures the band at its brightest moment. Don's voice is at its best here and sounds amazing; I really feel that he does some of his best singing on this album. As always we are treated to some very skillful guitar work by George Lynch who proves himself once more. Not to be forgotten, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown also provide a strong and tight rhythm section.

Unchain The Night opens the album very well, it's a good rocker with a memorable chorus. I just love Don Dokken's screams towards the end, Don sounds excellent here and his voice is terrific. The Hunter is one of my favorite Dokken songs, it has a good feel, solid melody and the chorus is undeniably catchy and is simply the band at its best. In My Dreams is a softer song that's very much on the pop side but there's nothing wrong with that as it's a great Dokken song. Its Not Love features an excellent riff courtesy of George Lynch, got to love the tongue-in-cheek breakdown towards the end! Jaded Heart is a very nice ballad with a powerful feel to it. Don't Lie To Me and Will The Sun Rise (It could be said so of many songs but this one has an incredible solo, Lynch makes the simplest things sound great) are both undeniably catchy songs that have some qualities of a ballad but are also rock 'n' roll. The only song that I am not a huge fan of is closer Till the Living End, it's a heavier song and certainly not a bad one but it's not a great track either. It has great playing on it don't get me wrong, it's heavier in the same way that Tooth and Nail was but something is missing.

Here's the thing about Dokken: they know just how to craft a catchy song full or arrangements and hooks while still making it rock. I think Under Lock and Key captures Dokken at its shiniest moment, it's safe to say that if you don't like this album then chances are you won't like the band very much. It's easy to classify Dokken as just another band that was around during the Glam movement or that decade they call the 1980's but I think they were actually one of the better bands of that genre. The band also had a hard-rock sound to them mixed with the 80's sound. Add to this lyrics that were more clever and intelligent than that of many bands of the era had mixed with some fantastic guitar work, and what you get is this band who is in my opinion often overlooked and underrated. I don't think Under Lock and Key is a five stars album but it may very well be Dokken's best and comes somewhat close. I think 4.5 stars is fitting to this excellent album, I love Under Lock and Key and it's an album I would recommend to fans of melodic/Glam metal.
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I doubt that a two word sentence was ever uttered with the words 'Dokken' and 'Rules' in alphabetical order. Of all the hard rocking L.A. hair metal bands, Dokken was a unique mystery. They were not really power pop because of George Lynch's amazing guitar skills, and they weren't Bon Jovi either, even though Don Dokken wanted everyone to think he was just as sexy and talanted (I for one think that Bon Jovi sucks, but that style was where the money was in the decadant 80's).
Dokken was a meat and potato rock n roll band, period. They hit it big for a short time on MTV with the video 'In my Dreams', followed by 'It's not Love'. Belive it or not a cheap and worthless black and white fuzzy video was shot for 'The Hunter' that played on Headbanger's Ball maybe two times.
Under Lock and Key is a good definition of what Dokken is and what they could have been. When you hear a song like 'Lightning Strikes' you say these guys can really rock, but when you hear stuff like Slippin' Away, you laugh at them for being a cheezy hair band. I don't know of anyone who detests Dokken, but I don't think they were anyone's favorite band. Here's the best way to send them up.
When a Poison or Warrant fan put them on, they were into 'the hard stuff', however a Slayer or Anthrax fan could play them without being embarrassed.
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on October 23, 2002
As far as image goes, this was about as hair metal as Dokken ever got. The music is great on this disc, particularly "It's Not Love," which is one of the more perfect songs Dokken ever did. It all comes together on that tune. The riffs are typical George Lynch, with his characteristic alteration between clean and heavy riffing, Don Dokken's excellent lead vox, a pounding '80's rhythm section and pretty cool lyrics to boot!
The rest of the album is fairly strong, but a bit uneven. "In My Dreams" has the stereotypical over-produced background vocal style of the '80's and a couple of songs like "Slippin' Away" pass through me like filler. But it's still a good listen. Like most Dokken, it's fun to hear how this four piece can sound so full and interesting with the very unorthodox playing of Lynch. Lynch gives each song a lot of breathing room and always seems to know how to riff just enough but not too much. And his solos always give you a few surprises as well.
Bottom line: Their image was cliched, but their songs rise above the cliches.
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on August 16, 2002
Though they had some very good hits the albums weren't so good. They found the perfect Pop/Metal formula with a little classic Rock and Scorpions feel to it.
"Unchain the Night" is a longer hard song and typical of the whole album. Somehow it avoids being cheesy, unlike many of their peers. "In My Dreams" was the biggest hit and is a perfect mid-tempo song about love. "It's Not Love", with the chants of the title is good, but not a classic.
The other songs are just as good if not better. The 2 ballads are "Slippin Away" which is relaxed and better than "Alone Again" off their last album. "Jaded Heart" has more of a laid back feel that turns into a Power Ballad. The upbeat Metal of "Don't Lie to Me" and the slightly mournful "Will the Sun Rise" are lyrically deeper than you might think, and are overlooked. The heaviest songs are "Lightning Strikes Again" and the brutal "Till the Living End" are put at the end of each side. Although not my favorites, they're nice since they break up the feel of the album. The guitar playing combined with the high-pitched but not girlie singing seems like good video game music for some reason.
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on August 16, 2002
Though they had some very good hits the albums weren't so good. They found the perfect Pop/Metal formula with a little classic Rock and Scorpions feel to it.
"Unchain the Night" is a longer hard song and typical of the whole album. Somehow it avoids being cheesy, unlike many of their peers. "In My Dreams" was the biggest hit and is a perfect mid-tempo song about love. "It's Not Love", with the chants of the title is good, but not a classic.
The other songs are just as good if not better. The 2 ballads are "Slippin Away" which is relaxed and better than "Alone Again" off their last album. "Jaded Heart" has more of a laid back feel that turns into a Power Ballad. The upbeat Metal of "Don't Lie to Me" and the slightly mournful "Will the Sun Rise" are lyrically deeper than you might think, and are overlooked. The heaviest songs are "Lightning Strikes Again" and the brutal "Till the Living End" are put at the end of each side. Although not my favorites, they're nice since they break up the feel of the album. The guitar playing combined with the high-pitched but not girlie singing seems like good video game music for some reason.
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on April 17, 2001
It starts out mysteriously enough with "Unchain The Night", which is a decent song that takes a while to build up. But this CD really comes together with the blistering yet commercially accessible "The Hunter," which has one of the best intros of any heavy metal song I've ever heard.
In fact, the phrase "blistering yet commercially accessible" would be a good way to describe Dokken's music in general. George Lynch's fully three-dimensional guitar artistry blends effortlessly with Don Dokken's pop sensibility in his songwriting, as well as his melodic singing, to create a unique sound that is all Dokken's. Their sound is easily recognisable, right off the first silky chords provided by Mr Lynch to the piledriver rhythm section provided by Messrs. Pilsson and Brown. In fact, I think that Jeff Pilsson is one of the greatest heavy metal bassists of all time. No wonder why, when Dokken broke up, Michael Schenker snatched him up for the wonderful "Schenker-McCauley" album (1991).
Anyway, other standout tracks on this CD include "In My Dreams" (which is very catchy, full of hooks, and probably Dokken's most commercial song ever), "It's Not Love," and "Till The Livin' End" (which is the most blistering track on this CD, and is one of their fastest songs ever). Sure, this CD is more polished than "Tooth And Nail" but it will still rock your socks off! If you love your '80's metal with a bit more artistry than other "hair-metal" bands, well then what are you waiting for?? I HIGHLY reccommend this CD!! :)
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on May 18, 1999
This album is a nice compilation of driving beats,lightlin' fast guitar work, and power ballads all wraped up in one!! Old Don really belts out some great melodies while George is his usual shreading self!!. I like Dokken music because of the true flow of every song.Don has a super voice and knows the true meaning of phrasing lyrics while George Lynch is one of the best melodious guitar players of his era. Man his solos are true to the flow and yu here every single note he plays.(even the 32nd notes!!) this is a great album that should be given a listen too. if you like bands like Queensryche,Loudness,and Badlands... check it out!!
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on January 27, 2003
This is it. This is the album that shot Dokken up the charts and people really got into them. This is when they were all over MTV and were one of the biggest bands in the world for a short time. And for good reason. This album is very good. "Unchain The Night", "The Hunter", "In My Dreams", & "It's Not Love" are the big hits here. "Slippin' Away" is a pretty decent ballad. They were trying to make another "Alone Again", and didn't quite succeed. Even the 'filler' is pretty good. If you get one Dokken CD (besides their greatest hits), I recommend this or "Back For The Attack". Just get both. You will not regret it.
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on November 8, 2000
This is not as heavy as Tooth and Nail but it is much more polished. If you prefer the polished sound then this disc is perfect for you. I prefer Tooth and Nail based on the sheer crudeness of that disc. Under Lock and Key does provide a few really quality songs starting with In My Dreams, Lighting Strikes Again and finishing with It's Not Love and Til The Living End. Tooth and Nail and Under Lock and Key are definatly Dokkens best two discs. Classic.......God Bless
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on March 5, 2000
This 1985 effort found Dokken expanding into more radio friendly areas without sacrificing the quality of their music.The high marks are as always George Lynch's phenomenal guitar attack,Don Dokken's voice,while Pilson and Brown'rhytm section is as tight as it can get.Every song on this album counts-an instant metal classic!
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