Author's note: This review was originally published on 411Mania.com. It can be found here:
There are two types of cover albums. The first is meant to be a stopgap, whetting the appetite of the fans before releasing an album of all new material. The second is an attempt to revive flagging record sales by releasing an album of songs that fans are already familiar with. Poison's Poison’d falls into the latter category.
Poison has never been a band for the critics, but the carefree essence of their music put them above many of their peers. This carefree vibe is completely absent on Poison’d, replaced by cold calculation. Every part of this album was meticulously planned, designed to appeal to every type of rock fan. Nothing was left to chance, which makes for a bland, predictable listening experience. Poison’d isn’t so much a record, but a product
The calculation works to some extent. The Sweet’s “Little Willy” nearly captures the lighthearted sleaze of the original, and the ballads (Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry” and The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See”) follow the successful "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" template. Bret Michaels' voice has gotten raspier, which gives the band a tougher sound. The highlight of the disc is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “I Need to Know.” Michaels and guitarist C.C. DeVille play off of each other like it is 1986, showing that their combustible chemistry isn’t completely gone.
Unfortunately, Poison’d suffers from many miscalculations. The first offender is The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” The original appears on Sticky Fingers, recorded while The Stones were in the grip of heroin addiction. Mick Jagger sounds tired and worn, and sings the song as if he anticipates death. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor compliment the vocals, laconically strumming on acoustic guitars. Poison attempt to replicate the original as much as possible, but they come off as an amateur bar band. However, “Dead Flowers” is far from the most offensive thing on the album.
Poison’s cover of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” is the worst thing they have ever recorded. All of the sleaze, camp and ambiguous sexuality of the original have been removed, replaced by generic Poison riffs. Bret Michaels goes through the motions, not even bothering to pick up any of Bowie’s nuances. Mick Ronson’s fuzz-toned custom Les Paul has been replaced by C.C. DeVille’s unnecessary wanking. Even the song’s final cry of “Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am!” sounds forced.
Poison’d wraps up several previously released covers, dating all the way back to 1987. These covers add nothing to the album, and actually show how lame their cover songs have always been. The band’s great rendition of “Cover of a Rolling Stone” is nowhere to be found, but their atrocious cover of “Squeezebox” is prominently featured.
Poison has been firmly entrenched in the nostalgia circuit for several years now, and Poison’d ensures that they will stay there. This album does have some decent moments, but they are overshadowed by the misfires. If Poison’d contained half of the feelgood vibe of the early albums, it would have been a fun listen. As it stands, it’s just a way to promote a tour.