GETTING MORE TALE #593: Talk Dirty to Me
The closest “record store” when I was a young kid wasn’t a “record store” at all. It was a now-defunct department store called Zellers. Located at Stanley Park Mall, they were a mere 10 minute walk from home. If we were looking for new tapes to listen to, Zellers would be the natural first stop. It was a bit of a needle in a haystack situation because I didn’t know the names of a lot of bands or albums. For example, there was a cool band from Japan on MuchMusic. They had a killer heavy metal track called “Crazy Nights”, but I couldn’t remember the name of the band. I scoured the racks at Zellers until I found what I assumed was the right group: “Wang Chung”. Never mind that “Wang Chung” doesn’t actually sound like a Japanese name, but what did I know at that age? I definitely didn’t know that the name of the band was Loudness, and the album I was looking for was called Thunder In the East! It’s a good thing I figured that out before putting Wang Chung on my Christmas list.
Bob and I spent a lot of time browsing records at Zellers just out of convenience of location. It was there that I first saw the band known as Poison. “They look like girls don’t they?” said Bob. “Yeah,” I responded, secretly deciding that Rikki Rockett was the hottest. But they were men! That first Poison album cover turned me off the band for a time. I considered them a sub-Motley Crue.
What finally turned me on to Poison was actually a highschool Battle of the Bands. It seemed every highschool band learned “Talk Dirty to Me” in 1987. The track had a vaguely old-timey rock and roll feel and that appealed to me. It was like old Kiss.
I gradually got into Poison, by taping their videos off MuchMusic. It is quite possible that their videos were the most action packed of the era. They were highly choreographed, but so much fun. There is no shame in admitting that when Bob and I got our first guitars, we were more interested in doing stage moves than playing. Poison (and also Cinderella) were the prototypes for many of our moves. A few guitars hit a few ceilings because of Poison. I had to have a faux-snakeskin guitar strap, with strap locks, of course, for those over-the-shoulder-throws.
The Poison video I liked the best was a ballad called “I Won’t Forget You”. It was tour footage from the stage and off, and it was less choreographed. It had a guest shot by none other than Paul Stanley! If Paul appeared on stage with Poison, then they had to be good. Right?
It was obvious from their videos that Poison were a flashy band, bent on entertainment or death. My musical perception wasn’t strong enough to detect that the band weren’t the greatest musicians, but they did have good songs to my ears. Every video they made was fun and catchy as hell. Poison were pretty easy to get into, and they were everywhere.
I didn’t buy the first album Look What the Cat Dragged In for a while, but I got the second one, Open Up and Say Ahh! for a school project. As recalled in Getting More Tale #455: How to Make a Music Video, Bob and I decided to make our own video for “Nothin’ But A Good Time” for the school video awards. My dad paid for the tape and it was used for the backing music.
The music video turned out great, and one day I hope to transfer it to a format you can upload to Youtube.
I’m not sure how many kids back then could have claimed they used Poison for a school project, but we did and we kicked that project’s ass! Add Poison to the list of bands I used for school presentations and essays, including Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Judas Priest. Poison’s music might have been vacuous, but they served their purpose. Even today, I still get those feelings that say “I Want Action”! Poison are intertwined with my childhood, permanently, and that’s not a terrible thing.