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Live Japan ‘95
Released: 2003, Sanctuary
I love Dokken. I have followed their career from virtually day one and own virtually every release they have ever done. As an subjective reviewer, I immediately was delighted to hear this and think it is great. However…as an objective critic I must ask this very difficult question of myself…a painful question I already know the answer to. Does the world really need a fourth live Dokken CD? As much as it pains me to say, I know, deep down the answer is… no.
Japn Live ’95 is a very poorly presented single live CD from Dokken documenting a show in Kosei Nenkin Hall in Japan in 1995. The cover art is extremely dull, obviously playing the Japanese fan base. There are no lyrics, a mere four very small photos, no liner notes…there is not even a back inside tray picture. The title is dull and didn’t Savatage already have a live album called Japan Live? Total budget production and substandard presentation.
Why was this released now? The whole thing stinks to high heaven of contractual obligation. Why this show? Why now? This CD is completely unnecessary. The track list is pedestrian to say the least with three tracks (Alone Again, Tooth and Nail and It’s Not Love) all appearing on all the three previous live albums. This CD is paired with a DVD of the same name/show, which has a couple of bonus tracks including ‘In My Dreams’ which also appeared on all three previous live albums. Overall, there are only two songs out of the fourteen from that did not appear on any previous live album. They are ‘Shadows of Life’ and ‘Long Way Home’ from DYSFUNCTIONAL. Almost every song appeared once or twice on the other live albums, meaning there is nothing new or exciting here. They very brief comment on the back makes a mistake suggesting that this is the original line-up when true fans know that it is not the original line-up. No big deal but an annoying mistake nonetheless.
In my mind, I pair this with One Live Night as a the acoustic/electric live sets documenting the return of George Lynch…while the Beast From The East and Live from The Sun (aka Best From The West) seem to be a pair as well. The production is quite live and raw sounding, surprisingly so.
Do I hate this album? Not at all. I enjoy Dokken in any form. The songs are all classics, new, slightly different renditions of old favorites that are safe and familiar to my ears. The whole album is quite mellow with four tracks in a row piecing together an extended ballad set with Don singing soulfully and the band tinkering quietly behind him. Don’s voice is inconsistent, raw at times, smooth at others, his very few mumbled stage raps are barely audible, sounding almost drunk. When George is allowed to cut loose he shreds on cuts like his signature tune, Mr. Scary. The crowd is so inaudible it almost makes the CD have a live in-the-studio feel. However it has been documented that Japanese audiences tend to be quieter and more respectful when the music is actually being played. This is by far the roughest, loosest, least produced of the four live CD’s.
I’m glad I have it, I like it and all Dokken fans should get it but I also know that the appeal will be very limited beyond a select few who will get a kick out of hearing part of a one show from Japan from almost 10 years ago.
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