Dokken – Tooth And Nail (Review)

Dokken – Tooth And Nail (1984)

When their debut album Breaking The Chains stiffed in the US, Dokken’s record deal with Elektra was on thin ice. Backs against the wall, the band would have to fight Tooth And Nail (see what they did there?) to keep their rokken roll dream alive. But when they should have been forming a united front, the band members were fighting among themselves. Producer Tom Werman decided early on that he’d had enough and the band had to complete the record the only way they could. Separately. Guitars, drums and bass were finished up with Roy Thomas Baker during the day, while frontman Don Dokken recorded alone with Michael Wagener during the night.

Fortunately the struggling, warring band had some top notch material to draw from. Superb L.A. glam meets Ozzy/Scorpions-style Euro metal. A lush and ominous guitar intro leads into the superb thrashabout title track. Just Got Lucky and Into The Fire have humungous raunchy hooks. Alone Again is classy manfeels and When Heaven Comes Down is a heavy, stately centrepiece.

Back Cover – Rock Candy Reissue

And, amazingly, considering the fractious nature of the album’s creation, it’s the raw, live vibe and delivery that is the real magic on Tooth And Nail. There’s a moment in Heartless Heart where a drum and vocal bridge suddenly explodes into harmonised arena rock heaven. It sounds like a band playing the gig of their lives, having their moment of world-beating peak performance flow. George Lynch firing off godly guitar licks left, right and centre and Don, aloof and weedy on the debut album, now generating massive sparks of excitement with committed and charismatic ease. Tearing it up in the daytime, burning it down at night, straight to the top… Tooth And Nail is the sound of a band fighting for their lives and winning heroically.

HMO RATING: 5 out of 5

[Dokken – Heartless Heart]

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30 thoughts on “Dokken – Tooth And Nail (Review)”

  1. Great writeup Scott!
    This was my intro to Dokken and it for sure is a great album. Slick move to include Heartless Heart a track that is one of those Gems that no one ever writes about until today!
    Awesome!
    I reviewed this one a ways back and always giggled at Curious Georges banana colour hairdo!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like the sound of this one. Wee bit grittier than Back for the Attack, eh?

    That Rock Candy are pretty good with the reissues, huh? I have the Burning Tree one they done, which is pretty great.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have this (completely erroneous, I know) image in my head of bands in studios, everyone contributing, everyone getting along, perfect moments being captured on tape and high fives all around. That’s how I’d want it to be, anyway. That these couldn’t even man up and do their frickin’ JOB without being children about it and needing to be seperated (like children) makes me tired.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s entertaining but tiring too, like Aaron says. Reading through the liner notes of the Dokken albums and the amount of drama… no need. I doubt Dokken were probably really any worse than a lot of others though. I think they probably just didn’t bother to hide it like other bands?

        Liked by 1 person

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