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POISON – Crack A Smile… And More!

Poison – Crack A Smile… And More! (2000, Capitol Records)

1. “Best Thing You Ever Had” … 4:19
2. “Shut Up, Make Love” … 3:52
3. “Baby Gets Around a Bit” … 3:37
4. “Cover of the Rolling Stone” … 3:09
5. “Be the One” … 5:39
6. “Mr. Smiley” … 2:43
7. “Sexual Thing” … 3:38
8. “Lay Your Body Down” … 5:28
9. “No Ring, No Gets” … 3:27
10. “That’s the Way I Like It” … 3:40
11. “Tragically Unhip” … 2:54
12. “Doin’ as I Seen on My TV” … 2:53
13. “One More for the Bone” … 3:18
14. “Set You Free” … 3:56
15. “Crack a Smile” [unfinished demo] … 3:46
16. “Face the Hangman” … 3:21
17. “Your Mama Don’t Dance” [live] …  3:13
18. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” [live] … 4:38
19. “Unskinny Bop” [live] … 2:12
20. “Talk Dirty to Me” [live] … 4:06

Bret Michaels – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Blues Saraceno – Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals
Bobby Dall – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rikki Rockett – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
C.C. DeVille – Guitar (Tracks 16-20)

Produced by: John Purdell, Duane Baron, Kevin Flaherty, Tom Werman

An album that was considered to be “lost” for sometime. It was recorded over througout 1994 and 1995 (sessions came to halt when Bret Michaels was involved in a serious car accident), but with alternative music all the rage and feel good party rock on the verge of extinction, Capitol Records decided to cut their losses and release a greatest hits in 1996 instead of this. Who knows how this album would’ve done had it been released when it was originally planned to, but perhaps Capitol made the wiser choice going with the hits because that particular collection, called Poison’s Greatest Hits: 1986-1996, has gone double platinum since being released.

Well, after all the bootlegging going on with this album, Capitol finally decided to cash-in when hair bands were making a comeback and finally release it. The album debuted at #131 on the Billboard charts. =( I’m pretty sure if Poison released an album today it would easily crack (no pun intended) the Top 30, given the success of Bret’s Rock of Love show. Hey, if their Poison’d! all-covers album can debut at #32, I *know* a brand new release can at least match that.

There’s not a whole lot on here that matches the band’s glory days, nothing as flashy or as catchy, but it’s still a solid album all the way through. It’s not dark like Native Tongue was, but still retains a bit of that rougher and bluesy sound but still has a fun, light-hearted vibe. “Sexual Thing” and “Lay Your Body Down” come closest to the old days, and were actually included on Greatest Hits, probably for that very same reason.

C.C. DeVille is still absent (he was replaced by Richie Kotzen for Native Tongue) as this was Blues Saraceno’s one and only album with the band.

In response to the bootlegging, Capitol countered by added bonus tracks to this release. That’s where the “…And More!” comes from. EIGHT BONUS TRACKS! Now *that’s* how you do it! The first two songs are outtakes from the Crack A Smile sessions, the song “Crack A Smile” is an “unfinished demo” for the album (Aren’t all demos unfinished?), and then we get an outtake from the Open Up And Say.. Ahh! sessions called “Face the Hangman” and then the other four tracks are from the band’s 1990 appearance on MTV Unplugged.

Overall, the album was definitely worth the purchase price when I got it, given that it’s packed with 20 songs, 8 of which are extras.

Highlights: “Best Thing You Ever Had”, “Baby Gets Around A Bit”, “Be the One”, “Sexual Thing”, “Lay Your Body Down”, “Your Mama Don’t Dance [live], “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” [live], “Unskinny Bop” [live], “Talk Dirty to Me” [live]

POISON – Flesh & Blood

Poison – Flesh & Blood (1990/2006, Capitol Records)

1. “Strange Days of Uncle Jack” [1:40]
2. “Valley of Lost Souls” [3:58]
3. “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice” [4:40]
4. “Swampjuice (Soul-O)” [1:25]
5. “Unskinny Bop” [3:48]
6. “Let It Play” [4:21]
7. “Life Goes On” [4:47]
8. “Come Hell or High Water” [5:02]
9. “Ride the Wind” [3:51]
10. “Don’t Give up an Inch” [3:43]
11. “Something to Believe In” [5:28]
12. “Ball and Chain” [4:23]
13. “Life Loves a Tragedy” [5:14]
14. “Poor Boy Blues” [5:19]
15. “Something to Believe In” [Acoustic Version] [6:01]
16. “God Save The Queen” [Instrumental Demo] [2:48]

I should point out that while this album was originally released in 1990, it was also remastered and reissued in 2006 by Capitol Records, with the addition of two b-sides, in order to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary. The remastered version is the version I own.

Poison was one the first bands I remember being introduced to that got me into the whole “hair metal” scene. A friend of mine owned Greatest Hits 1986-1996 when it initially came out and I borrowed it. I was hooked and had to go score my own copy. Since then, Poison’s been one of my favorite bands.

Funny thing is, I actually never owned this album until a year ago when I picked up the reissue. Most of Poison’s albums have been really good, but I was blown away at just how this one was. They still rock & party on this album, but their sound is a lot more professional here. The musicianship is better and so is the production thanks to Bruce Fairbairn, who produced AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge (my favorite AC/DC album) and Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation and Pump.

No, this is not the definitive Poison album (I think that award goes to Open Up and Say… Ahh!), but this is my personal favorite from the band.

Highlights: “Strange Days of Uncle Jack” (cool intro), “Valley of Lost Souls”, “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice”, “Swampjuice (Soul-O)” (instrumental that sounds like something from Cinderella), “Unskinny Bop”, “Life Goes On”, “Ride the Wind”, “Something to Believe In”

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