When I got the email today with the copy of Dokken’s new record, Return To The East Live 2016, I was so ecstatic that I almost ran out of my class today to listen (I know guys, you’re saying, “you should’ve!”) You can tell, as I’m already typing away at the review the day of that this release has me nothing short of completely overjoyed, and I’m sure numerous other Dokken fans feel this way as well. As a lover of all things Dokken, the band’s reunion in both Sioux Falls, SD in the United States and at the Loud Park Festival in Japan was incredibly exciting as it was the bands, including all original members, first live performance together in nearly twenty years.
It’s no secret that the group had their fair share of ups and downs and, quite simply put, drama that led to the break-up of the original line-up in the late 1980’s, as well as in the mid-to-late 1990’s. But, it was decided that in late 2016, the four members that had helped Dokken reach their greatest height of popularity in the mid-1980’s, Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, and Wild Mick Brown, would reunite for a few select shows, all in all making rock fans everywhere extraordinarily happy.
Luckily for fans like myself who were not able to attend the shows in South Dakota and Japan, the two concerts were recorded and made into a LIVE video and album entitled Return To The East Live 2016, allowing everyone to be a part of the special event.
Not only did they film the shows, the four original members also came together to write and record one brand new song entitled, ‘It’s Just Another Day’ which is also included on the new release. After speaking with Jeff Pilson this past winter about the upcoming single prior to it’s release, I was already excited beyond belief to hear what they had put together. Overall, I was so impressed and pleased with the new single, as it held the classic Dokken sound with a modern twist—and proved that the chemistry to create killer music is still existent between the band. I am also a huge fan of the paired music video to go along with the track, as it includes some minor flashback footage of each member from the eighties, definitely causing fans to feel some nostalgia. Also included are two incredible acoustic re-workings of two Dokken classics, ‘Heaven Sent’ and ‘Will The Sun Rise?’ These are two genuine standout listens on this release, and as Frontiers Records themselves say, make it “all the more special!"
Now for the actual live tracks on the album: I found it extremely enjoyable to listen to. Every beloved Dokken song was played. Ranging from songs like ‘When Heaven Comes Down’ to ‘The Hunter’(my personal favorite) and of course the band’s biggest hits such as ‘In My Dreams’, ‘Alone Again’, ‘Into The Fire’, and ‘Breaking The Chains.’ Speaking for myself, I really feel like the band’s spark still exists. There’s something so magical about the creative minds who helped piece together these songs that so many adore coming together again to play the music. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing these four play together more often.
I already know there will possibly be negative comments about post production of the record, and any overdubs that might’ve been added in, but the reality of the situation is that almost every single live album is produced, mixed, mastered, and touched up in the studio somewhat—yes, even from some of the biggest, greatest artists out there. Take the rumours surrounding KISS’s Alive! for example… and [if said rumors were true] that record was in an era where the band was incredibly fresh. That’s not a ‘diss’ by any means, but just goes to show that in really any live album situation, these things do exist.
As for the video portion of this record, it was extremely interesting to see these four musicians on one stage once again. Although each and every member put their all into their performance, I have to say that Jeff Pilson was such a stand-out for me while watching. Not only did Pilson multi-task while playing piano, bass, and singing harmonies/back-up, he also had outstanding and remarkable energy. If you were to compare Jeff’s performance on this upcoming release with a video recorded on their tour supporting Back For The Attack in 1988, you would see no difference other than shorter hair, and a little bit of age. A truly amazing musician and performer. It was also nice to see friendly comradery between everyone. With all of the speculation and bad blood spewed in interviews in recent years, it was pretty cool for them to push aside their differences and come together in the studio and for these couple of shows. More bands (I’m sure you can think of a couple… if the youth gone wild rings a bell) should definitely follow in their footsteps.
All in all, if you’re a Dokken fan, I would without a doubt recommend checking this out. The release, Return To The East Live 2016, will be available on CD/DVD, Blu-Ray, as well as in a box set, and on vinyl this April 20th. You can pre-order through Amazon, or you can visit the band’s PledgeMusic page and pre-order some awesome sets! I can’t wait until I get my copy!
This record gets 🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻 from me.