Dokken – Broken Bones


Review by Paul H Birch

Someone must’ve fed Dokken a bowlful of whatever Deep Purple used to have for breakfast when they recorded Empire because it’s got Blackmoore and his boys down to a racing tee, given a modern edge with drums high in the mix, blistering guitar licks tearing up in all the right places and Don Dokken himself either warning us of our own potential ecological doom or some otherworld sci-fi fantasy happening. That it does it all clocking in at around the three minute mark is more than impressive.

Title track ‘Broken Bones’ slows the pace, part ‘90s AOR rock given a twist: Dokken busking dreamy vocal refrains, his own higher-register backing vocals blending well and featuring a tasty guitar solo to boot. Next up, ‘Best of Me’ sees Dokken treading Europe’s Bag of Bones’ route to seek Physical Graffiti-era Zeppelin as a touchstone for some grooving riffs, eastern guitar sounds and a compelling vocal delivery throughout from the main man; his harmonies again urging you to sing-a-long until a Schenker-schooled six string shred-fest bleeds out of the speakers before it all ends.

‘Blind’ again has that Zeppelin feel but harkens back to the Dokken band’s signature sound, then ‘Waterfall’ follows suit with some clever offbeat timing, big pre-chorus harmonies and another hefty guitar solo. ‘Victim of the Crime’ sets us firmly in Kashmir territory but with more than a passing glance at MSG’s Lost Horizons with those Michael Schenker sounds becoming more prevalent as the album progresses. Acoustic guitars strum, electrics cut in with melody lines, and then drums syncopate proudly as Dokken ease into a powerful hard rock lullaby of regret and introspection with ‘Burning Tears’. This could be epic live.

‘Today’ is apparently a Jefferson Airplane song but hear sounds like The Doobie Brothers fronted by Paul McCartney. I kid you not. And it works.

For the ‘Last Time’ sees the band kick into a sensually churning riff as Dokken the man tells his story of love gone wrong, all collectively heading towards a quite brilliant rhyming couplet chorus that demands live crowd participation.

‘Fade Away’ grinds and wails before settling into a Bon Jovi styled rocker with added character and charm.

Coming on like Rainbow’s Gates of Babylon married to Rory Gallagher’s Moonchild with its urgent guitar riff, ‘Tonight’ sees the singer conclude what’s been an album  contemplating the passing of time and pondering where he goes from here.

Broken Bones isn’t the histrionic arena rock I was expecting. Instead Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown, together with Levin on guitars and Sean McNabb on bass have delivered an impressively strong rock record.

8 out of 10

Track listing:

1. Empire
2.  Broken Bones
3.  Best Of Me
4.  Blind
5.  Waterfall
6.  The Victim Of The Crime
7.  Burning Tears
8.  Today
9.  For The Last Time
10. Fade Away
11. Tonight