It's been over 20 years since Poison landed on the glam scene with their make-up, big hair, and big arena rock hooks. They were a fun band, a party band, and they did not intend on letting anyone forget it. The music from their heyday will always be a testament to rock 'n roll excess, with more sex, drugs, and rock n' roll than you can shake a drumstick at.
Well, times have changed, the band has gone through its share of troubles, but somehow, they managed to all come back to the same page, letting bygones be bygones. Gone are the stories of Bret Michaels punching out CC DeVille after a performance, back is a band trying to reclaim some of thier past glory and forge ahead in new directions. What better way to forge a new direction than to release an album covering songs that inspired them when they were up and coming glam rocker punks?
The album is a mixed bag at best, but it does show a more mature band than the "Unskinny Bop" rockers of yesteryear. If anything, the band continues to show that CC DeVille is still a pretty good guitar player, Bret Michaels has a good voice, and the others were in the right place at the right time.
Poison'd! is a curiosity along the road that has been Poison's career. They have brought together an unlikely collection of songs and done their best to be true to the original, while still having something of a Poison sound to it. In addition to nine new recordings, they also include five covers that have been previously released, most famously the Loggins & Messina song they took to new heights in the late 1980's, "Your Momma Don't Dance."
One thing that is evident over the course of this excursion into the past, is that while the guys may have gotten older, they still have that upbeat rock bounce. On the otherside, their softer side doesn't quite work as well as it used to, when the pace slows the focus seems to drift, and they just don't sound as good, for example cue up The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" and Alice Cooper's "I Never Cry." However, give them tracks like Sweet's "Little Willy," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "I Need to Know," and The Romantics' "What I Like About You" and the swagger is right there with them. Then there is the in between-step, songs that are fun but don't quite make it like "Suffragette City" with Michaels doing his best to sound like Bowie, or his Ric Ocasek impression on The Cars' "Just What I Needed."
Among the older tracks, Kiss' "Rock 'N Roll All Nght" sticks out like a sore thumb. Sure, the party vibe is there, but they just cannot make it work. Just listen as the guitars drag the lackluster drums along behind them. "Squeezebox," which originally appeared on 2002's Hollyweird is actually pretty decent. Closing out the album is Grand Funk Railroad's "We are an American Band," which seems oddly fitting, as Poison is distinctly American sounding.
On a side note, Walmart is offering an exclusive version of this which includes a cover of Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback." Yes, you read that right.
Bottomline. This is a fun collection, hit or miss to be sure, but still fun. I always liked Poison's music, and while this will never rival their originals from their early career, it should be a part of any Poison fan's collection. Non-fans will need to think a bit harder about it. It will pay tribute to the changing attitudes of the band, as they have aged and reveal some different rocker sensibilities through their choice, and performance, of covers.