2. Squeeze Box
3. Shooting Star
4. Wishful Thinkin'
5. Get Ya Some
6. Emperor's New Clothes
7. Devil Woman
9. Livin' In the Now
10. Stupid, Stoned & Dumb
11. Home (Bret's Story)
12. Home (CC's Story)
|More Releases by Poison:
Native Tongue (1993
Flesh & Blood (1991)
Open Up and Say Ahhh (1988)
Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986)
|Related Releases (sound):
Shameless - Queen for a Day (2001)
Faster Pussycat - Faster Pussycat (1987)
Enuff Z'nuff - Enuff Z'nuff (1989)
Shy England - Misspent Youth (1990)
|First, a brief history of Poison...
Pennsylvanian rockers debuted with the raw and raunchy, flagrant and energetic "Look
What the Cat Dragged In" in 1986. 88 was 'their year' as the big hits rolled off the
truck one after the other, amongst the glitz and glam of life on the Sunset Strip was a
sappy ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" that ended up striking a chord with the
mainstream audience and raked it in grandly, being one of the top 10 songs of that year.
But for every hit on "Open Up and Say Ahhh", there was a crappy song to follow
it so the radio worthy tunes eventually came to a screeching halt. 1990 opened up with
another disc, "Flesh and Blood" that was another trip down the Hollywood
highways, awash in a blaze of neon lights glowing in lurid colours. Then in a turn that
would in the future make good VH1's "Behind the Music" fodder, guitarist CC
Deville ditched the band (or was he fired? hmmm..) to go sit in his multi million dollar
mansion and shoot coke. Then the same old story that every rock fan has heard a million
times happened, the big crash of the rock genre as alternative music threw the corpse in
the ground and then trampled on its newly filled grave. To battle this surge of angst,
Poison hired the then up n coming (although his career never went anywhere) guitarist
Richie Kotzen and decided to change its tune instead of returning to being that one trick
pony they had milked for so many years. Of course that lead to their own death and
downfall, as no one could stomach the glam rockers turn from decadence into serious
spirituality and primitive tribal beats right out of the jungle after being fed half a
decade's worth of sugar and spice, all that was naughty and nice. Simply put, "Native
Tongue" bombed. Bret Michaels pursued independant movies and a solo singing career,
Ricki Rockett created comic books, continued the neverending quest for animal rights and
picked up a job as a hairdresser, Bobby Dall fell off the face of the planet and CC was
still struggling with drug addiction and the demons that haunted him.
But never fear, for glam bands never die, they only wash off their makeup and hop aboard reunion tours made just for the aging rockers. They got back together, toured and then toured some more, selling out small venues and putting out both a greatest hits and a live album "Power to the People" with a few teaser studio tracks for each. Then suddenly its the present day, in the year 2002, and in what could be the most promient new release for a 1980s born band staying troo to their roots, they release the somewhat concept album (whut?) "Hollyweird". Yes it could have been big. But unfortunately, the production sucks. We are talking demo-tape bad. Muddy, scratchy, sounding half baked and not quite done, the mixing is awful, the sound levels are horrendous and there are great voids in the background where there sould have been backup vocals or just something to fill in the holes. Hollow and recorded in a tin can is not the sound a band trying to regain some sort of audience should release in disc form. For a fan hoping for some sort of respect from the general public that pick anything 80s to pieces, its a bottoming out disappointment.
|And its not exactly the fault of the songs...
Opening with an excited flourish is the simple but quick trash fix,
"Hollyweird", a rollicking raunchy good time. Strutting on with lipstick and
leather confidence is the heavier "Wasteland", with its glitzy wild and free
chorus, straight out of the book of Bon Jovi. In fact there's a bit of lifting from Jovi's
"Dead or Alive" here with the lyrics: "Alone on my steel horse I
ride." Hmmm wonder why it has that Bon Jovi feeling in the first place eh?
"Shooting Star" is "Fallen Angel Part II", following the story of
Hollywood dreams and the reality that tears it apart. There's no quick way to the top but
that doesn't mean that there's no silver lining underneath every cloud. Then we do it all
over again with "Wishful Thinkin'" but instead of getting rained on, the chick
decides to go the porn route. I'm sure plenty of real life stories end up pretty much this
way. Hollywood has been known to eat people's souls. "Emperor's New Clothes" has
CC Deville singing, and he does a pretty good job, its a quick, catchy n crunchy number
with warped guitar sounds wrapped in a gaudy glammy packaging.
But carrying the tradition of crap with the quality comes such laughable songs as "Devil Woman" that has distasteful harmonica and makes even the most devout Poison fan cringe and "Squeeze Box", while in the same feel as the trash phone fantasy, "Talk Dirty To Me", was pretty crappy when the Who released it and is not much better here as a half hearted cover. Seeing them perform it on a now cancelled VH1 late night music talk show was painful, and the studio version invokes the same feelings. "Stupid, Stoned & Dumb" suffers from production problems, sounding so hollow it gives the impression that if the song could be held up to a bright light you could see straight through it. The drums are distant and others could do a better job banging on a tin can and recording the 'performance' on a cassette tape.
And "Home" is just strange. The song is not even that good...but there's not one, but TWO versions of this thing. Its basically "Talk Dirty To Me 2002" (well, most of this album could be called that now that I think of it...) and apparently there must have been some kind of blowout over who should sing this since Bret does it and then CC gives his version... same song, different lyrics. Bret's is all drugs and sex, the highlights being: pissing in the parking lot, learning the meaning of 'unskinny bop' ("CC banging a porno queen") hanging out at the Rainbow and having his chicks stolen by the dorky singer from Drowning Pool. CC DeVille's is a frustrating vent at the 'joys' of flying through the not-so-friendly skies and Europe's weather woes, nothing but rain, or getting the tour bus stuck in snow. Not to mention the hilarious bit, "Rikki had so many bags, customs almost beat his ass, they threw me out of first class cause I said we were the bomb." CC's take is by far the best with sharper lyrics that are miles more clever than Bret's, making it more of a fun punk-glam sendup than the tribute to sleaze that is Bret's.
So in the end what can be said? Its Poison. A poorly produced, badly mixed Poison, but the songs are a pure 80s mishmash, with punk overtones and sprayed to the point of caking with hairspray. Its the Poison you knew and loved, and franky they haven't changed one iota since the wasted days of yore. Its quite raw and not much of an improvement over cheap demo quality, but if you can stomach the rather sparce soundscape and hollow drum and guitar sounds, then by all means, go ahead and give it a shot. Its just sad that they couldn't do better than this, for it only continues to make them a target for the music industry and those that think glam was just passing fad...that's better off dead.