T & N – Slave To The Empire

T & N - Slave To The Empire

earMUSIC 0208329ERE

Okay, is it a tribute album or isn’t it?  T & N would have you believe this offering should stand up in its own right.  Dokken alumni George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and ‘Wild’ Mick Brown have assembled seven new tracks mingled with five Dokken classics of old.  Joining them is one-time Whitesnake and Foreigner drummer Brian Tichy.

With Don announcing that there won’t be another Dokken album (and his latest ‘Broken Bones’ getting mixed reviews) perhaps there is a niche for T & N; at least something for Dokken fans to hang their mullet wigs on in the future?

The first thing to say, why couldn’t they fashion a whole new album with a distinctive vocalist?  Jeff Pilson appears to be the main mover and shaker of the project, it was recorded at his studio, and he takes vocal duties and co-writes the new material.  He’s also produced although the legendary Wyn Davis has been brought in to mix and master.

What of the music?  The title track sums up the album’s limitations.  Pilson makes a reasonable fist of the vocals but he sounds strained in places and not suited to essentially heavy rock.   And ditto on ‘Sweet Unknown’ where the power of Lynch’s guitar is not matched in the vocal department.

‘It’s Not Love’ features Warrant’s Robert Mason and is fairly perfunctory hard rock but there seems to be a lack of real fire in the execution: it’s almost Dokken By Numbers.  ‘Rhythm Of The Soul’ partly compensates for this with a more infectious urgency and power whilst  ‘When Eagles Die’ is perhaps the most impressive new piece.  But it’s like T & N do Black Country Communion do Led Zeppelin.

‘Jesus Train’ is bluesy rock and sounds like filler and ‘Access Denied’ is again somewhat predictable and, frankly, just as disposable.

The fact that there are several guest vocalists (which does make this feel like a tribute album) only serves to underline Pilson’s vocal shortcomings.  Compare and contrast with ‘Kiss Of Death’ featuring Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens or Sebastian Bach’s take on ‘Alone Again’.

The more hard rocking of the Dokken originals ‘Tooth And Nail’ (featuring Doug Pinnick of Kings X), ‘Mind Control’ and ‘Into The Fire’ merely remind us of better times and maybe just a hankering for the original tracks.

The album will mostly appeal to fans of House Of Lords or even Slash.  It’s a spirited if ultimately mark-time project.  When’s the next Foreigner album?

***1/2
R
eview by David Randall

George Lynch chats to David Randall in “The Guitarists” series, Sunday 18 November 2012 at 18:00 GMT on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio and reveals that there is a second T&N album planned.  Mark-time project??  Not exactly.

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 31 July 2022.

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