The newest passengers on the rapidly overflowing “Hey, let’s release an album of cover tunes” bandwagon is none other than ’80s pop/metal poster boys, Poison. The band’s current offering, simply titled Poison’d features several newly recorded remakes of 1970s classics, produced by legendary rock guru Don Was and is rounded out by a fistful of previously released retreads from the band’s infamous past.
Most music fans would probably agree that there is little appeal in an artist simply regurgitating what has already been done. Typically what makes one of these types of records compelling is hearing a particular act put its own unique spin on a classic: transforming somebody else’s tune into its own. However, in the case of Poison’d the self-proclaimed “Glam Slam Kings of Noise” manage to get this basic concept completely ass backward. They actually deliver their best versions of tunes on which they stick closest to the original recordings. Conversely, they run into trouble when they (God forbid) try to get creative.
At its best Poison’d offers raw, garage versions of The Sweet’s “Little Willie,” David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” and Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know” — classic gems with energy and attitude reminiscent of the band’s earlier (and hungrier) Look What the Cat Dragged In-era. However, the bastardized version of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” is sluggish and uninspired. And despite front man Bret Michaels’ decade long crusade trying to convince the world that he truly is “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll” these high priests of Hair Metal should probably avoid covering southern rock tunes in the future. In fact, their remake of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” is certainly the record’s square peg. But it could have been worse; at least they had enough sense to stay clear of Skynyrd and Hatchet!
While also sticking relatively true to the original, the Poison’d version of The Romantics’ “What I Like About You” is an album highlight. It comes across with a magical, “’80s something” rock and roll party vibe. And it’s their revival of Alice Cooper’s 1976 hit ballad “I Never Cry” that could replace “Every Rose Has its Thorn” as Poison’s best-known heartbreak ballad.
It ain’t Dark Side of the Moon, folks, but (thank God) it ain’t Hollyweird either. Despite a few shortcomings, Poison’d still just might be the feel good record of the summer!