GETTING MORE TALE #744: A Poison-ous List
Over 30 years of being a band, and yet Poison only have a handful of albums! We won’t get into the whys and wherefores, for they are many. In terms of studio music, Poison have:
- 6 full studio albums
- 2 live albums with about an EP’s worth of new songs
- 1 covers album
That’s it. There are more live records and greatest hits, but Poison don’t have much music to show for such a long time in the business.
Naturally, anybody with an opinion has their own list of worst-to-first Poison albums. The only thing special about mine is my conviction that I’m right and everybody else is wrong!
#9: Hollyweird 2002
Poison’s last album of original songs was not a letdown at all. To be disappointed, you have to have expectations. I don’t think anybody expected much out of Poison in 2002. This dull, bland album had no hits for a good reason. Was Bret saving his best material for his solo career?
#8: Power to the People 2000
Part live, part studio, this album should be included as it was the first new Poison material with C.C. Deville in a decade. Shame that the studio songs are largely forgettable. All but “I Hate Every Bone in Your Body but Mine”, sung by an autotuned C.C., which you’ll wish you could forget. Nobody asked for this, nor the live guitar and drum solos. In concert, Poison need to play long solos so Bret Michaels can take his insulin. On album, there is no excuse for including such boring solos.
#7: Swallow This Live 1991
This album is plagued by the same problem as Power to the People: horribly long live solos that should have been omitted. At least the studio side was decent. There were two pretty good songs, and one excellent single called “So Tell Me Why”. Possibly their best single, actually. Unfortunately you had to wade through 2 CDs of crap to get to it.
#6: Poison’d! 2007
Kinda sad that Poison’s last album was a covers album over 10 years ago. Still, it was a surprisingly good covers album. Just delete the Walmart bonus track “SexyBack” and you’re all set for nothing’ but a good time. Incidentally this is the easiest place to find Poison’s first recorded cover, “Rock and Roll all Nite”!
#5: Crack A Smile…And More! 2000
In 1994, Poison began working on their first album with new guitarist Blues Saraceno. It sat unreleased for another six years. When it finally came out, it was beefed up with two new B-sides, the cool and unfinished “Crack A Smile” demo, an old B-side with C.C., and four songs from MTV Unplugged (also with C.C.). Hence the “And More!” tag in the title. Saraceno is a wiz on the guitar, and with Poison he wrote some cool songs. Just not enough for such a long album. There’s a bit of filler on Crack A Smile, but for guitar playing it’s one of their best.
#4: Look What the Cat Dragged In 1986
I know, I know, it’s their “classic” debut, right? But it ain’t produced so good, and there’s some filler in those grooves. The singles, however, are all great, with “Cry Tough” joining “So Tell Me Why” as one of their all-time best. Poison had an adorable rawness and party attitude, but like many bands they got better as they went.
#3: Open Up and Say…Ahh! 1988
This is when Poison really started getting good. By my measure, this album only has one filler song, “Bad to Be Good”. There’s actually some stunning material here, including non-singles like “Love On the Rocks”. It has the big ballad (and only one ballad!) as well as the unforgettable “Nothing But a Good Time“. Open Up and Say…Ahh! is definitely the best of Poison’s “party rock” albums.
#2: Flesh & Blood 1990
A lot of people consider this to be Poison’s best, and while that argument can be made, I just can’t get past “Poor Boy Blues”. That song is so awful it leaves a limburger-like aftertaste. (It’s even worse when it’s extended on Swallow This Live.) “Unskinny Bop” is painfully dumb, a fact we recognized back in 1990. It didn’t fit the more mature sound Poison were going for with new producer Bruce Fairbairn. “Why is this song the single?” we asked each other, as we discovered way better material buried inside. “Valley of Lost Souls”, “Sacrifice”, and “Life Loves a Tragedy” were never singles but certainly catalogue highlights. Flesh & Blood also boasts two of their best ballads, “Something to Believe In” and “Life Goes On”. It’s a tough album to beat.
#1: Native Tongue 1993
But Native Tongue does surpass Flesh & Blood, thanks to the supernatural talents of Mr. Richie Kotzen. On paper, it was a slam dunk. Poison were never taken seriously as musicians, but with Kotzen, suddenly that bar was raised. That tone! Earthy and hot. He was a shredder, and a soulful singer/songwriter. He dominated Native Tongue. Unfortunately the personalities didn’t mesh (or so we will word it). It was a weird fit, but it resulted in a very special album. Most of the songs are clearly Richie’s, with Bret Michaels singing. (It’s possible that Richie played other instruments as well, but we’ll leave that to speculation.) Kotzen brought to Poison a real soulful bent that they simply didn’t have without him, although they sure did try on Flesh & Blood. His raspy voice didn’t hurt. The good time rock isn’t gone either, though there’s less of it. “Ride Child Ride”, “Strike Up the Band” and “Seven Days Over You” are as fun as the old days, but with a richer more musical palette. Poison also went heavier than ever before. “Scream” and “Bring it Home” groove harder than anything before or after. Perhaps this album should be disqualified from the list as it’s more a Kotzen record with Poison as his backing band? Nope, it’s my list and this is #1.