Released: 2007, Rhino
While looking for the original masters for BREAKING THE CHAINS, Don Dokken stumbled across an unreleased Dokken live performance from 1981 recorded while the band was playing shows trying to find a U.S. record deal. What resulted was the Rhino release of FROM CONCEPTION LIVE 1981, a time capsule that highlights the infancy of a band that would later release several touchstones of eighties hard rock, TOOTH AND NAIL, UNDER LOCK AND KEY, and BACK FOR THE ATTACK.
If you have never heard the sound of something right before it explodes, than this is your chance. When you hit the play button, you will be assaulted by a gritty, raw and electric performance trying to claw its way through your speakers. In a time before egos grew too large to be contained on one stage, these guys simply had attitude and it came through in their delivery.
The set is primarily made up of songs that were featured on the debut release, BREAKING THE CHAINS, but as an added bonus to long-time fans, the performance features three songs never released on Dokken studio records and an unheard George Lynch guitar solo. Of the three previously unheard songs, “Hit and Run” is by far the best. Featuring a driving bass line, excellent backing harmonies (unfortunately, somewhat muffled in the mix), and very interesting melodic guitar lines, this song would not have felt out of place on subsequent Dokken albums. “Liar” is a rather immature song that comes off very much like an homage to Van Halen, a band whose influence on Dokken is prevalent throughout this entire show. Still it is rather likeable for its energy. The weakest of the three “new” songs, “Goin Down,” is a shoot from the hip rocker that sings the praises of all things rock and roll: women, booze, fast cars, etc. While the George Lynch guitar solo track is far from the prowess of his more technically proficient later offerings, it is still great for its simple-minded, flash and balls approach.
Of the songs that were later featured on the debut album, “Paris is Burning” and “Breaking the Chains” come off the best. Opening the show with a blistering run through “Paris is Burning” really sets things off in the right direction. The all time, best performance of “Breaking the Chains” wraps up the main set perfectly. Free from all the production polishing that it would endure on the album, this song is alive with just the sound of pounding drums, forceful bass, bristling guitar, and Don’s impassioned singing.
It’s almost sad that they were never able to capture such a spirited performance later in their career when they had some stronger material to work with. Still, this recording is a gem for all its brash simplicity. Dokken was always a band that many critics thought were a cut above the rest of the glitzy, eighties hard rock and metal acts. This album shows where that respect came from --- their ability to just plug in and play solid rock and roll.