REVIEW: Poison – Swallow This Live (1991 2 CD set)

STL_0001POISON – Swallow This Live (1991 Capitol Records)

In 1991, hard rock was breathing its last gasp (for the moment, anyway) and Swallow This Live is a perfect example of how this happened. Many rock fans were fed up with substandard releases, and this is one of the biggest turds of that era.

Swallow This Live was a double — yes, you heard that right — a double-live CD from a band who only had three studio albums! And Poison are not Kiss. On the cassette version, two tracks were missing: “Life Goes On”, and “No More Looking Back”.  I think Poison instead should have excluded Rikki Rockett’s painful, overly long drum solo.  They definitely should have cut C.C. (billed here as “Cecil”) DeVille’s horrendous guitar flatulance.

Poison imploded before this was even released.  The fact that C.C. DeVille was only seen in the video for “So Tell Me Why” for a matter of seconds spoke volumes.  (Opening lyric of the song:  “I’d like to put to bed the rumours”.)  This was after the train wreck that was the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.  There’s C.C. with bright pink hair, not able to play an entire song…it was no surprise when he was fired, although the band waited until after the release of Swallow This Live to tell anybody.

C.C. also hated the bluesy, more serious direction that Poison’s music was taking, which was fully realized on their next studio album, Native Tongue. With guitar maestro Richie Kotzen as the catalyst, Poison finally delivered a mature piece of work which of course did not sell. But that’s another story.

Here, we have a very rough sounding live disc, overly long, and embarassingly bad. Every song is superior in its studio version, making this album completely redundant. Ironically, coming from the band who once said, “Fans comes to see us play, not PRESS play,” you can hear lots of backing vocal tapes, especially on “I Want Action”. You do get basically every hit that Poison ever had, which was an impressive amount. However, even that couldn’t pad out a full 2 CD release, so they also played some really terrible songs live.  “Look What the Cat Dragged In” is awful, but even worse is the blues massacre, “Poor Boy Blues”.  Bret’s ad-lib is a cheesy mess.

The only reason to buy this CD is the new studio material   Two of the new songs are among the best that Poison had recorded up to this time. “So Tell Me Why” is a firecracker of a song, a brilliant rocker held aloft by fantastic guitar melodies. “Only Time Will Tell” is one of their best ballads, along the lines of “Life Goes On” or “I Won’t Forget You” crossed with some Native Tongue maturity.

If you can get Swallow This Live at a decent price (I used to sell it around $8.99), pick it up for the new studio stuff, but don’t blame me if C.C.’s live guitar solo makes your ears bleed!  (Note:  I know this has been reissued as a single disc with various track omissions, so buy according to your needs.)

2/5 stars

Don’t forget that Poison’s second album was originally to be called Swallow This!


    1. Might be better off. If you’ve never heard Bret do a blues “scat” then consider yourself a survivor.

      The video is a real WTF though. Like WHO told Bret that this was a good idea?

      Regarding the long drum and guitar solos, I do know why they do that. Bret is diabetic and he uses the solo breaks to check blood sugar and take care of it. But the blues scatting CANNOT be justified.


  1. Train wreck on stage! I bought this big o dumb piece of slab even after witnessing there lame ass headline performance in Winnipeg that same yr. Don Dokkens solo band opened and blew them off the stage as far I was concerned.
    Poison suckered me with this release and I was a fool to go along with it(plus the sound is horrible)….
    Too bad cuz Flesh & Blood was a good record…..


    1. Flesh & Blood was a good record. Unskinny Bop was a terrible song, but the rest of it was pretty damn good. Valley Of Lost Souls…Life Goes On…Ride the Wind…great songs.


  2. I’m impressed you gave it 2 stars! 1 per CD, I presume? ;) I did not know that the title came from the intended 2nd album title. Heard this back in the day and ignored it. It was what it was in the time that it was. But I haven’t heard it since and have no real inclination to do so. I have Flesh & Blood here, that’s enough for me. ;) Yer old store is selling it for $13.99 online.

    Also, I think this is the one where that guitar magazine ranked CC’s solo as the worst ever in rock. I think I mentioned that before, on some other reviews comments…

    I did not click on the video either.


    1. Worst solo ever in rock? That rings a bell actually, I think you’re right. I wouldn’t argue with them.

      Playing a solo in concert so Bret Michaels can have a blood sugar check for his diabetes is one thing. Putting it on the album is another!


  3. I had to endure that solo 4 rows back from the stage in Winnipeg there was a bus full of us from Tbay there ,the 5 guys I were with when CC started his solo that night we all noticed with out mentioning anything to each other that he was mimic in some of Eruption in which we all started to chant Eddie,Eddie,….
    Needless to say Cc could not hear us but the people,around us could..hahahaha…
    Crap just Crap….


  4. I remember Bret Michaels bragging his ass off about how live this record was. No overdubs whatsoever. U think? I mean, had this record had overdubs then Poison would have sucked more than I would have imagined. This record is so lousy that it hurts. It also speaks volumes about how crap they were as a live act. I mean, both Bobby Dall and CC DeVille are pretty bad musicians sober, but here they both are drug wrecks and just when you thought CC couldn’t get any worse, this album shows up. And let’s not forget about Mr Untight on the drums, Rikkkkkkki Rockckckckettttt. Jeez.
    I’ll say it again, I’m dead sure about that neither Rocket or Dall actaully plays a single note on Native Tongue. The rhythm section on that album is too tight and groovy and not before or after that album have the two of them played that way. My guess is that bass duties were handled by Kotzen as well


    1. I’d lean to agreement with you on the Native Tongue Jon. Listen to the opener…the instrumental Native Tongue. When has Rikki Rocket ever shown himself capable of playing like that?

      In short, live Poison from THIS era is CRAP CRAP CRAP! I have a live Poison with Kotzen called Seven Days Live…ever heard that one Jon?


      1. Haha. I just went back into this review to ask if you have heard Seven Days Live… Yeah, I got that one.
        And I’m curious, because there was no bragging about how live that one was… My guess is that there were a lot of rhythm section overdubs on it.


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