Alright, so after the chest-thumping of last week I thought we’d do something fun for this week’s edition of Classic Albums. Let’s head back out to the dirty L.A. scene and have some Poison. You know you want it, now Open Up and Say…Ahh! I’ll never forget this one. I rode the bike to Record Collection (nope, not Uncle Phil’s this time!) to pick this up after being forced to do yard work for hours after school on a Thursday in May, when I was supposed to be hanging with my girlfriend at the time. She wasn’t happy, and neither was I, but when all was said and done I got paid $20 (a FORTUNE to a 15-year old in 1988) and had my grubby mitts on the new Poison album, which by the way, didn’t leave the Walkman for weeks!
This album was so goddamn good, right from the opening guitar of “Love On the Rocks” I knew this was gonna be a fun ride. As much as I liked Look What the Cat Dragged In, I didn’t love it, and this was what put them in my upper echelon of bands at the time. The sound was bigger, meatier, and you could feel every vibe, whether it was a party song, or a tale of innocence lost. I lay in bed that night, pressed PLAY, and all of a sudden…magic. Up next was “Nothin’ But a Good Time”, one of the best party anthems of all time, which I wasn’t a fan of when the video premiered a few weeks earlier, but something about it in the headphones made me feel like I was there, and it soon became a favorite. That riff is instantly recognizable, and C.C. DeVille doesn’t get nearly enough credit as a writer in my opinion.
The cowbell-laden “Back to the Rocking Horse” is enough to make Christopher Walken say, “Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!” and just keeps the rockin’ goodness flowing. Next thing you know it’s some blues harmonica to accompany the hot “Good Love” while the band lays down a groove behind Bret Michaels vocals that’s so sexy it’s damn near X-rated. And if you’re reading this, you know damn well that you were either conceiving OR you were conceived to this record, especially a song like this, stop kidding yourself! The sexual vibe keeps on keepin’ on for side one closer “Tearin’ Down the Walls”, with bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett locked in tight to make sure you get there, baby.
The tape flips over and C.C. takes over once again for “Look But You Can’t Touch” complete with all the innuendos about wanting it, but being denied. And then things take a serious turn. “Fallen Angel”, (my favorite Poison song from the first time I heard it) tells the all-too familiar tale of the girl from Smallville USA going to L.A. to make it and winding up another statistic/casualty/give it a name. This song really showed the world that there was more to these four men than hairspray and songs about fucking, and I give them all the credit in the world for writing about the subject. And just when you think that their depth is a one-off, along comes “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, their first and only #1 song to date. Now, we have ALL cried to this one over somebody, and it truly cemented Bret’s status as a songwriter, because it was autobiographical and from the heart.
Poison gets back to the party stuff on an amazing cover of Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance” that to me is a thousand times better than the original, and is just a ton of fun. I f I COULD dance, I would’ve been doing so in my room that night, trust me! Closing things out is the bass-anchored “Bad to Be Good”, letting you know that these were in fact, bad boys, in case you forgot. I was up till 2 a.m. listening and spent the remainder of the Summer of ’88 with this tape in heavy rotation. It’s a great reminder of a simpler time, being 15 and not having a care in the world other than my hair, my cut up metal t-shirts, my denim jacket back patch, and just hangin’ with my boys (Joey, Frankie, and Mike) while always trying to be where the girls were. Nothin’ But a Good Time indeed, baby… ~dc