Breaking the Chains

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After vocalist Don Dokken supplied backup belting on the Scorpions' scorcher Blackout, producer Dieter Dierks gave him leftover studio time to produce demos. Guitarist George Lynch, drummer Mick Brown, and bassist Juan Croucier (who immediately left to form Ratt) rounded out the rockin' Dokken. Combining Teutonic thunder with Sunset Strip sensibilities, the band began carving out a comfortable niche in the '80s hair market with this Carrere release, soon remixed and remastered for proper distribution by Elektra. The quartet's debut slings clich├ęs fast and furious, but the shopworn staples seem bearable because the playing is at peak form. Opener "Breaking the Chains" remains a pop/rock perennial (forever linked to the accompanying apocalyptic video wherein Don and the boys, well, break the chains). The remainder of side one, while unremarkable, still sticks to the ribs after only a couple of spins. Side two begins to lag until the sizzling final cut, the live "Paris Is Burning" (originally a studio track called "Paris"), erupts into flames through the phenomenal fretwork of dazzling axe-god Lynch, a legend from an era with no shortage of six-string-heroes. After intense glory in the Headbanger's Ball daze, Dokken splintered into several dysfunctional side projects, tainting the band's solid '80s output. Everything started with this record, which remains an enjoyable, if not essential, slab of competent corporate metal.

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