Tooth And Nail


Elektra, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


People from my age group who grew up during the “glory days” of hard rock and heavy metal might not remember a time when Dokken was not a bigger name band. But, in 1984, that was exactly the case for Don Dokken and crew. The US release of their debut album Breaking The Chains hadn’t exactly set the musical world on fire, and they needed to change their fortunes.

Tooth And Nail, Dokken’s sophomore release, still didn’t light the charts on fire, nor did its performance impress their label (to the point they were this/close to being dropped). But it did gain them some recognition, thanks to the singles “Into The Fire” and “Alone Again.” Overall, the album was a marked improvement over their first effort, but still showed room to grow.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Look, I’m not going to lie: Dokken was never one of my favorite bands when I got into heavy metal in high school. Bands like Dokken, Bon Jovi and Poison were on one side of the fence; groups like Metallica and Motorhead were on the other. Only a select few in my teenage years had the maturity to be able to listen to both camps and appreciate what they all had to offer. It wasn’t until I was much older that I gained at least some of that maturity and wisdom.

So, while a 15-year-old me might not have been able to appreciate the way that Dokken as a band had gelled (especially with the addition of Jeff Pilson on bass), the 51-year-old me can hear the musical growth that Dokken had undergone in the span of one album. Tracks such as “Tooth And Nail,” “Just Got Lucky” and “Into The Fire” all show significant growth, both in terms of the overall songwriting and the musicianship. It does surprise me that “Into The Fire” didn’t make a dent on the Billboard singles chart (though it did reach number 21 on the Mainstream Rock charts).

The big hit on Tooth And Nail—more correctly, Dokken’s first actual hit—was “Alone Again,” which reached number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100. A song that guitarist George Lynch initially didn’t want included on the disc, I have to admit I see his point, as it’s a harder-edged ballad that doesn’t quite match up with the overall sound of the album as a whole. One can argue that this is an example of Dokken trying to expand their horizons, and I guess I can see that point… and I can understand why a ballad would hit the charts. While I can appreciate the track a little more as an adult, it’s still not one of my favorite songs on the disc.

Although there is still a bit of filler on this disc, such as “Bullets To Spare” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” there is enough on Tooth And Nail to suggest that Dokken was definitely on the right track. Their brightest days were still ahead of them in terms of mainstream success, but Tooth And Nail is a marked improvement over their previous effort.

Rating: B-

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