They might never have made it as big as some of their ’80s contemporaries, but what glam metal band Dokken lacked in chart-topping singles, they made up for in great songs, killer riffs, and stellar musicianship. Since forming in 1978, they’ve broken up, reunited, said goodbye to some members and hello to others, and, in the process, delivered some of the most enjoyable hair metal ever made. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Dokken songs of all time.
10. The Hunter
Kicking off our list of the top ten Dokken songs of all time is The Hunter. Taken from the band’s excellent third album, 1985’s Under Lock and Key, this bittersweet rocker combines fist-pumping choruses and soaring riffs with enough radio-ready appeal to make it as appealing to metal purists as casual listeners. Released as the lead single from the album in December 1985, it reached number 25 on the Mainstream Rock chart in the US, hanging around the chart for an impressive 9 weeks in total.
9. Just Got Lucky
This classic hair band jam is good enough to make our list on its own merits, but what makes it even better is the story behind the making of the video. During a tour with Dio in Hawaii, the band decided it would be a good idea to shoot George Lynch’s guitar solo on top of an active volcano. In the middle of filming, the volcano started playing up, shooting billows of boiling steam into the air.
Despite struggling to breathe and feeling his feet becoming uncomfortably warm, Lynch played on into the night, only leaving when park rangers came to tell him and the rest of the band to leave immediately as the volcano was about to blow… which it promptly did, resulting in one of the best videos in their catalog.
8. Alone Again
Alone Again is a power ballad… although a power ballad about what, no one really knows. Don Dokken wrote it in the mid-1970s, recorded it on a tape, stuck it in a closet, and promptly forgot about it. Fast forward a decade, and every good glam metal band worth their hairspray were releasing power ballads.
Elektra Records wanted Dokken to do the same, so, rather than start from scratch, Don dug out the old recording and set about reworking it with bassist Jeff Pilson. But by that point, too much time had passed for him to remember what had inspired him to write it in the first place. “People ask me all the time, ‘Who did you write it about?’ I don’t know. ‘Was it about a girlfriend?’ I don’t know! I just wrote it. My memory’s not that good,” he’s said to Songfacts.
7. Dream Warriors
Next up is a song from the soundtrack to “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.” Any song that manages to scare off Freddy Kruger with the power of rock and roll deserves a listen, especially when it’s as classic a piece of fist-pumping hair metal as this. Released as a single in February 1987, it climbed to number 22 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Back for the Attack might not be the band’s best album, but it’s still essential listening, with tight jams, mind-blowing instrumentation, and killer vocals. Don Dokken and George Lynch are at the top of their game, delivering flawless performances that add extra layers of maturity and substance to the record. Among its highlights is Prisoner, a hard-rocking piece of classic hair metal that reached number 37 on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1988.
5. Lightnin’ Strikes Again
A perennial fan favorite and a highlight of the 1985 album Under Lock And Key, Lightnin’ Strikes Again opens with a classic from the George Lynch book of face-melting riffs and continues to get steadily heavier and harder from there. If you’re not pumping your fist and banging your head by the end of it, you haven’t been listening hard enough.
4. Breaking the Chains
Dokken’s debut album Breaking The Chains was a bit of a mixed bag, failing to excite the critics and making such a small dent on the charts, it came close to getting the band dropped by their record label. But while it might have its faults, it’s also got its gems, with the sensational title track standing out as one of the sparkliest. Described by All Music as a pop/rock perennial and by VH1 as one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, it’s a classic.
3. Tooth and Nail
After Breaking the Chains flopped, Dokken had to fight hard to get their record label to give them another chance. Elektra eventually relented, and the result was the aptly named Tooth and Nail, a million-dollar selling album that managed to sell enough copies and spawn enough hits to appease the record executives and give Dokken another shot at the spotlight. The title track is particularly impressive. Mean, moody, and with a killer guitar solo from George Lynch, it’s remained a firm favorite with metalheads for over 35 years.
2. In My Dreams
If you’re in the mood for some classic ’80 hair metal with a fist-pumping chorus and one of the great solos in George Lynch’s catalog, don’t miss this exhilarating rocker from the band’s third album, Under Lock and Key. Released in February 1986, it reached number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 24 on the Top Rock Tracks chart.
1. Kiss of Death
In at number one on our list of the ten best Dokken songs of all time is Kiss of Death, a heavy, menacing slice of metal crammed with killer riffs, face-melting vocals, and enough aggression to scare off an army. Of all their songs, it’s probably the most ‘metal,’ but like most of their releases, it’s approachable enough to appeal to a wider audience. If you haven’t already heard it, turn the volume to the max and prepare for a blast.
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