Glam rock band, Poison, was formed in 1983 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania by lead singer Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett. In 1984, the band moved to Los Angeles. They made their rounds in the area’s famous clubs. Then Matt Smith was about to become a father. He was unsure of the band’s future, so he left the band and moved back to Pennsylvania. Poison auditioned for a replacement guitarist, eventually narrowing down the field to three candidates: Slash, who would later join Guns N’ Roses, Steve Silva from The Joe Perry Project, and New York-born guitarist C.C. DeVille, although Michaels and Dall did not initially get along with him, the band eventually agreed that DeVille’s “fire” made him the best choice.
Their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986), put them on the map. Initially, the only single was “Cry Tough“. However, Poison became popular when they released the next three songs which would become big hits: “Talk Dirty to Me“, “I Want Action“, and the ballad “I Won’t Forget You“.
In 1988 Poison’s second album, Open Up and Say…Ahh!, was released and brought them up to the stratosphere. The album would go on to sell over 8 million copies, and spawned four hit singles. It peaked at number 2 on the charts as it had the misfortune of being out at the same time as Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, Guns N’ Roses’ debut record, Appetite for Destruction and Def Leppard’s most successful album, Hysteria.
But it held it’s own, and I think it is a very solid album.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Rock ‘n’ Roll if there wasn’t any controversy! When the album was first released, the cover art featured a demonic female figure with an obscenely long tongue. Or maybe it was Gene Simmons? I don’t know. After all, the year before (1987), they did cover “Rock and Roll All Nite” for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero. So maybe they had to return the favor by featuring Gene Simmons on their cover. Anyway, after being bombarded with complaints, the cover changed to only show the figure’s eyes.
While some of the songs from the album were overplayed (well, at least one of them anyway, which is still overplayed to this day, and you know which one I mean), There are some really good songs on this album.
So lets go back 25 years, Return to 1988, and Open Up and Say…Ahh!
Love on the Rocks
Great way to start the album. A rocker that features the band’s signature sound.
Nothin’ but a Good Time
This was the first single released off of the album. It reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #19 on the Mainstream rock charts. This is a fun party song.
Back to the Rocking Horse
Another fun, rockin’ song.
Great combination of blues and rock. This is another fun, underrated song.
Tearin’ Down the Walls
I like this song alot too. This is a pretty good album so far!
Look But You Can’t Touch
This is one of my favorite Poison songs that was not released as a single. It probably should have been. This is my second favorite song of the album.
And this is my favorite Poison song. It reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #32 on the Mainstream rock charts. The song is about a young girl who grew up in a small town and goes to Los Angeles, just like a certain band we know.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
This is a little deep track that you may or may not have heard of. Ugh! One of the most overplayed songs in the history of music! I loved this when it first came out. I even had this on a 45. This came out at a time when I was going to a lot of dances. This would be the designated “slow” song, so it does bring back some great memories. But, it doesn’t help that Bret Michaels can’t go 5 minutes in any part of his day without mentioning this song. I imagine that he’s brushing his teeth, and says, “If it wasn’t for Every Rose Has It’s Thorn, I wouldn’t be brushing my teeth with this solod gold toothbrush right now”!
It is the band’s only number-one hit in the U.S., reaching the top spot on Christmas Eve in 1988 for three weeks (carrying over into 1989) and it also charted at #11 on the Mainstream Rock charts.
Here is the song just in case you have somehow been able to avoid it.
And here’s a Country version if you want to hear a slightly different take on it.
Your Mama Don’t Dance
This was the fourth, and final single released from the album. It reached number 10 on the Billboard hot 100 and #39 on the Mainstream rock charts.
It was a cover of the 1972 hit song by Loggins and Messina. I was never a fan of this song. But I must be in the minority since it was a pretty big hit.
Here is the original Loggins and Messina version:
Bad to Be Good
This is a pretty good song. It sounds a little heavier than some of their other rockin’ songs. I like this a lot.
Since our minds are on Bret Michaels right now, I will do a little article on Poison – one of the best glam rock bands of the ’80s.
Bret Michaels may be known for the reality shows such as the Rock of Love series as well as the current season of Celebrity Apprentice. But, his best work by far was being the front man for Poison.
Their first album was Look What the Cat Dragged In, and it peaked at #3 on the charts. There were 3 hit singles from that album: “Talk Dirty to Me”, “I Want Action”, and the ballad “I Won’t Forget You”.
On the heels of that albums success, they recorded their own version of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite” for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero. I personally think they did a great job on that song, and the soundtrack is very good.
On May 21, 1988, Poison released their second studio album – Open Up and Say…Ahh!. This was their most successful album, selling over 10 million copies. It contained their only #1 hit “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, as well as three other hit singles – “Nothin’ but a Good Time”, “Your Mama Don’t Dance”, “Fallen Angel”. The original front cover was controversial as it had a model dressed as a demon with an extremely long “Gene Simmons” tongue. The cover was later changed to only show the eyes.
On June 21, 1990, the band released their 3rd album, Flesh & Blood, which was also very successful. It peaked at #2 on the charts. The album spawned two top 10 singles: “Unskinny Bop” and “Something to Believe In”, as well as three other hit singles: “Ride The Wind”, “Life Goes On”, and “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice”. This was my personal favorite album by Poison.
This was another album with a cover controversy. The front cover of the album featured the Poison logo and album title as a tattoo on Rikki Rockett’s arm. The controversy was that it was a picture of the tattoo freshly inked, and the skin was inflamed and dripping with either blood or ink that looked like blood. The cover was pulled, and then released with the cleaned up tattoo.
Then the band began to fall apart after that. Lead guitarist C.C. DeVille was addicted to cocaine and alcohol. He and Bret Michaels got in a backstage fistfight at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. DeVille was fired and replaced by guitarist Richie Kotzen.
Then the fun party rock was disappearing – thanks to grunge music rise in the early ’90s. Poison released the album Native Tongue on April 21, 1993. It was more blues and funk than Rock & Roll. “Stand” was about the only song that I liked from that album.
They began working on another album called Crack a Smile. But they had to stop when Michaels was involved in a car accident where he lost control of his Ferrari. He suffered a broken nose, ribs, jaw, and fingers and lost four teeth. After he recovered, the band got back to work, but their label, Capitol Records, offered little support for it since hair metal was almost completely gone. Instead, they had to release a Greatest Hits album, which was released on November 26, 1996.
Poison celebrated their 20th anniversary with a “20 Years Of Rock” tour in the summer of 2006, with fellow rockers Cinderella and Endeverafter opening. The tour swiftly became one of the most successful tours of 2006 in the U.S., averaging about 10,000 people per night.
Here is my list of favorite Poison songs:
5. “Talk Dirty to Me” – Where it all began. This was their first hit, and is a fun rock song.
4. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – This was their biggest hit. It was a great ballad. It would probably by higher on my list, but it kind of got a little too overplayed for me.
3. “Unskinny Bop” – This was the first song off of Flesh & Blood. What a great start. It seemed silly at first, but it is a fun song that grows on you.
2. “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice” – I could probably pick any song from Flesh & Blood, and insert it here. This one is just a great hard rock song.
1. “Fallen Angel” – This has been my favorite Poison song since I first heard it. Great video and great song. The vocals and instruments are awesome.
What is your list of favorite Poison songs or albums? Do you have any memories of the band or music that you would like to share?