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POISON – Poison’d!

[A review originally published here June 22, 2007, on The Metal Misfit: A Blog of Pop Culture & Life. I have made some format changes to fit in better with the Metal Excess format, but I have left the review portion untouched.]

Poison – Poison’d! (2007, Capitol Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Little Willy” [Sweet cover] … 3:18
2. “Suffragette City” [David Bowie cover] … 2:57
3. “I Never Cry” [Alice Cooper cover] … 3:33
4. “I Need To Know” [Tom Petty cover] … 2:21
5. “Can’t You See” [The Marshall Tucker Band cover] … 4:57
6. “What I Like About You” [The Romantics cover] … 2:59
7. “Dead Flowers” [Rolling Stones cover] … 4:21
8. “Just What I Needed” [The Cars cover] … 3:36
9. “Rock ‘N Roll All Night” [KISS cover] … 3:35
10. “Squeeze Box” [The Who cover] … 2:30
11. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (1986 Demo)” [Jim Croce cover] … 3:06
12. “Your Momma Don’t Dance” [Loggins & Messina cover] … 3:01
13. “We’re An American Band” [Grandfunk Railroad cover] … 3:09
14. “Sexy Back” [Justin Timberlake cover] … 3:34

Bret Michaels – Vocals, Harmonica
C.C. DeVille – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Bobby Dall – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rikki Rockett – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Don Was (Tracks 1-8, 13, 14), Rick Rubin (Track 9), Thom Panunzio (Track 10), Ric Browde (Track 11), Tom Werman (Track 12)

Summer. It’s that time of year where the so-called “eighties” acts release an album to get some hype going their summer tours. Usually, a greatest hits or live album will do the job so that these bands can promote & sell *something* while on the road, but cover albums are always another standby for bands that don’t feel like writing new songs. Covers albums in general are nothing to get excited about. As I said, they’re either done by a band that doesn’t want to sit down and write original material OR they’re released to fill time while the public awaits original material.

Luckily, Poison delivers with the same good time fun that their original works are known for. Sure, Bret Michael’s voice has gotten a little rougher with time, but so do calluses. That’s life. Even at his vocal peak, Bret was never going to out sing Rob Halford or Jeff Scott Soto, and he does a serviceable job here.

Poison seems quite at home covering “Little Willy” and Bowie’s “Suffragette City”, the first two tracks that get the album off to a great start. I was also pleasantly surprised to see them cover (and do a good job of covering) Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry”. Bret’s twang has never been more present than on that song. Other top picks include a rockin’ version of “I Need To Know”, “Can’t You See”, “Rock ‘N Roll All Night” (a song I’ve long since only had a mp3 version of), and of course one of their biggest hits… “Your Momma Don’t Dance”.

For all the fun this album brings (it’s a great summertime album to go crusin’ to) I do have a few gripes here. Tracks 9-13 were all previously released songs. I would have much preferred Poison to have picked and recorded some new covers. “‘Rock ‘N Roll All Night” is from 1987’s Less Than Zero movie soundtrack, “‘Squeeze Box”’ comes from the band’s last studio album 2001’s Hollyweird, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” was released in 2006 as a 1986 demo track with the Poison album reissues, “Your Momma Don’t Dance” was a huge hit for the band from Open Up and Say… Ahhh and “We’re An American Band” comes from last year’s 20th Anniversary greatest hits collection.

“Your Momma Don’t Dance” easily stands out on this album as the best track. It’s everything hair metal was in the 80s, slick and polished and in your face. The newer covers have a more raw and punchy sound, which while it works for some tracks (“Suffragette City”, “I Never Cry”, “I Need To Know”), it feels out of place on 80s pop hits like “What I Like About You” and certainly on The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”.

If you picked up the Wal-Mart version of the album, it included a bonus track featuring a cover of Mr. JT’s “Sexy Back”, which is actually pretty entertaining and fairly heavy sounding (well, heavy for Poison covering a Timberlake song).

Call it 7 out of 10.

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