POISON – Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986, 2006 Capitol remaster)
I remember seeing this album in the racks of our local Zellers store. I didn’t know the band. I thought CC Deville was pretty cute.
Taking the gender-bending makeup of the mid-80’s to its logical end point, Poison stormed out of Hollywood and onto the charts. They did this with a handful of great singles, including “Talk Dirty to Me”, “Cry Tough”, and “I Won’t Forget You”. Also huge, but barely tolerable as a song, was the singalong “I Want Action”.
Armed with just $23,000, Poison recorded Look What the Cat Dragged In with producer Ric Browde (Ted Nugent, W.A.S.P.) in less than two weeks. What they emerged with was a fun, raunchy and terrible sounding album with some big hits and plenty of filler.
“Cry Tough” was a tight little opener, a hot and bright rocker about going out and givin’ er. “You gotta cry tough, out on the streets, to make your dreams happen!” sings Bret Michaels in full-on cheerleader mode. Unfortunately the sonics of the album leave much to be desired. The guitar, drum and vocal sounds are demo quality at best, but that’s what you get for $23,000 and Ric Browde.
The other singles were all huge. “Talk Dirty to Me” is now minor staple, and “I Want Action” (annoying as it is) is another. The ballad “I Won’t Forget You” is an album highlight, well before Bret & co. had mastered the art of writing hit ballads. Low key, basic and electric, “I Won’t Forget You” is very different from “Every Rose” and some of the later broken-hearted Poison love songs. Paul Stanley has a cameo in the road-ready music video, which didn’t hurt.
That leaves a hell of a lot of room for filler, and Look What the Cat Dragged In has plenty. Of the album tracks, the decent ones include the saucy glam-slam rawking title track, and another song called “Want Some, Need Some”. Both tunes could have used some last-minute tightening up, but neither are as bad as the dreck on the tail end of the album: “#1 Bad Boy”, “Blame it on You” and the horrid “Mama Let Me Go to the Show” all suck absolutely. “Play Dirty” on side one is also pretty awful.
Even with the quality issues in sound and songwriting, Look What the Cat Dragged In sold over 3,000,000 copies. 20 years later, it was given a fresh remastering and three bonus tracks. The remastering could not fix the audio issues, but the bonus tracks are pretty good. Single remixes of “I Want Action” and “I Won’t Forget You” are marginally better than the original album tracks. Somebody realized that they were sonically deficient, and the remixes help a teeny tiny bit. Then Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” is added to the end, a song that got more exposure on the covers album Poison’d! The bonus tracks go a long way towards making the album a little more listenable from start to end.