Dokken – Up From The Ashes
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was living in Western Branch off of Taylor Rd with my cousin. I don’t remember exactly what day it was on but it was Jan/Feb 1991 only weeks before my 21st birthday. I believe it was a Saturday and I was driving home from somewhere listening to Z-Rock and the local affiliate comes on the air to interview Don Dokken and Mikkey Dee about their concert that night at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA. A former friend from high school and I had tickets and were pretty excited about the show. I had been listening to Up From The Ashes since it came out a few months prior.
So as I am listening to them interview Don and Mikkey, I pull over to a gas station a few miles from my house and try to call the station to see if I could talk to them. I was so damned excited that I kept fat fingering push buttons on the pay phone. After about 3 or 4 tries I got through off air and got to talk to Don and Mikkey. I asked if there was a way to meet Mikkey prior to the show and he told me what time to be at the Boathouse (super early). I told him that I was a huge fan of his from the King Diamond days. He said make sure I don’t have more than one person with me and everything would be cool.
So at this point I am flipping out (of course not on the phone but internally). I get home a few minutes later and told my buddy what the plan was and that he had better be ready when I came by to get him. He was notoriously slow at everything. I told him if he wasn’t ready when I got there that I was leaving his ass behind. Fortunately he was ready when I got there and we headed to Norfolk to the Boathouse.
We’re the first people in the lot along with the staff cars and Dokken’s bus. Some dude came to the door of the bus and said they were coming from the hotel in a few minutes and to wait. So we waited only a short amount of time and a minivan with Don, Mikkey Dee, John Norum and Billy White in it. Mikkey gets out of the van and asks, “Are you Sean?” I acknowledged and we were instantly escorted onto the bus. So Don hands me a band photo which was already signed by Baltes (who was inside the Boathouse already). So Don and the rest of the band sign it along with some other stuff like cassette covers and such (I hadn’t gotten into CDs yet). He stood with us for a few minutes then hightailed it to the back of the bus to take care of stuff. At this point I am freaking out because one of my all time favorite drummers and musical influences and standing next to me. I don’t get start struck easily as I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years but this one was different. This was Mikkey Dee…the guy who played drums on King Diamond’s Abigail.
We hung out for what seemed like an hour but was likely a lot less. Talking with John Norum and Billy White was pretty neat. Unfortunately in my giddy starstruck state I had forgotten that Billy White played on Watchtower’s debut. To this day in my head I still hear my inner voice say, “You’re an idiot.” Kelz reminds me of this regularly and he pointed out after the show, “Dude, how was it to meet Billy from Watchtower?” Ummm…D’oh! I am a Watchtower fanatic as well. What a doofus.
But all in all, I was there to hang out with Mikkey which was the first of 3 times that I got to spend time with him, the other 2 being with Motorhead in 1993 and 2000. Will post about those meetings some other time.
In my conversation with Mikkey, I noticed he was wearing an Abigail backstage pass. It had one of the heavenly aura’s around it. haha. So being the fanboy that I was that night, we talked about drums and about some certain aspects of his playing that I tried to emulate. I asked him if he was going to do a drum solo and he said there would be one. I asked him if he could incorporate the intro to Welcome Home from the Them album. He said, “That’s a good idea, we’ll see.”
So the opening act was on the stage at this point and it was time for us to get off the bus so they could get ready. I can’t overstate how accommodating these guys were. I honestly didn’t even need to see the show after that! But we went in and caught the 2nd half of the set by The Blonz. Wow. They were just awful. One of the worst bands I have ever seen.
So we make our way towards the front of the stage and got on the barricade at stage left which ultimately was in plain view of Mikkey when he was on the kit. Perfect!
So out comes the band and they rip into their set. They were absolutely incredible and it was one of the tightest sets I have ever seen by any band. Watching Mikkey slay the drums and both Norum and White manhandling their guitars with such precision was pretty incredible. Definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen. Don’s vocals were clean and clear and he was an excellent frontman.
So I guess this blog is really about an album review, eh? I’ve seen this one get trashed in many a metal review and I could never understand why. It’s easily Don’s second best album behind Tooth and Nail and pretty much the last album that he actually sounded really good on. Initially the main reason I bought the album was because I had read that Mikkey Dee was drumming on it.
Even with some of the slightly cheesier songs like Mirror Mirror and Stay, it’s an album of which I don’t ever feel the need to skip any of the tracks. Good production as well.
This one gets 10/10.