Dokken, one of my all time favorite bands from 80s offer a follow-up to their sublime 1989 live album ‘ Beast from the East’ with ‘Return To The East – Live 2016’. I for one never thought a reunion of the original four members would ever happen, but I guess that an absolute ton of money from the lucrative Japanese market helped an awful lot , but I was still pleasantly surprised when it was announced.
For a massive Dokken fan I wanted to see the four of them perform one last time again, bringing back great memories of their UK shows in 1986 (with Accept) & 1988 (with AC/DC) but had severe doubts it would ever take place with Jeff Pilson being happy as a full-time member in Foreigner.
So almost two years down the line from when it was recorded, I wondered how good this Dokken live release would actually be, and having seen the version of Dokken with Jon Levin & Chris McCarvill play Ramblin Man Fair in Summer 2017 I was very hopeful . Well I have got to be totally honest, and this is coming from a lifelong Dokken fan, ‘Return To The East-Live 2016’ is not great. Thankfully some of the old remains, musically and harmony wise the Dokken of 2016 is as it was 30 years ago. George Lynch remains timeless and sounds as good as he did in 1985. Pilson and Browns backing vocals are excellent, and make up for Don Dokken’s vocal range. Just as on ‘Beast From The East’, ‘Return To The East’ has a new Dokken track on offer. ‘Its Another day’ has all the trademark Dokken sounds that we have come to know and love, it has the Dokken sound, and works well with Don’s depleted vocal range, and It has a feel of the ‘Under Lock & Key ‘ classic ‘Will The Sun Rise’.
The live part commences with the classic ‘Kiss of Death’ from ‘Back to the Attack’, but unfortunately everything is down-tuned to assist Don’s vocals. ‘‘The Hunter’ sounds slightly better vocal wise on Don’s part , although the track still sounds great as Jeff Pilson nails the backing vocals and harmonies. My three all time favourite Dokken tunes ‘Unchain The Night’, ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Dream Warriors’ are all done reasonable well as a band , but the vocals a lacking somewhat again, pale imitations of the originals. ‘When Heaven Come Down’ and ‘Breakin The Chains’ suit Don’s voice a bit better, and the ballad from the brilliant ‘Tooth & Nail’, ‘Alone Again’ sounds as good as it did back in the day.
The final two live tracks on offer are both from the classic ‘Under Lock & Key’ , ‘Its Not Love’ and ‘In My Dreams’ 2016 is not great, with the latter out of sync, and in my opinion vocally poor overall. The album finishes with two studio acoustic tracks – ‘Heaven Sent’ and ‘Will The Sun Rise’ and along with ‘Its Another day’, are unfortunately the best songs on this release, because they suit Don Dokken’s current vocal range, and come across really well.
So as a big Dokken fan I’m a bit disappointed on what’s on offer, its not as bad as some make out, and I’m the first to admit that’s Don’s voice is not what it was 30 years ago, but it’s still not a great live release. I will keep my memories of those great shows when I witnessed the band at their peak in the mid to late 80s. I would be first to say Rokken with Dokken, but not with ‘Return To the East – Live 2016’.
01.It’s Another Day (New Studio Track)
02.Kiss Of Death
04.Unchain The Night
05.When Heaven Comes Down
06.Breakin’ The Chains
07.Into The Fire
09.Tooth And Nail
10.Alone Again (Intro)
12.It’s Not Love
13.In My Dreams
14.Heaven Sent (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)
15.Will The Sun Rise (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)