I tried to take this seriously, folks. I really, really did. But will and fortitude can’t always overcome the shameless and lame.
Poison’d, a covers album by ’80s glam-metal goliaths Poison (which actually released a full-length, Hollyweird, in 2002), is pretty much exactly what I was expecting, no matter how hard I tried to delude myself. It’s an utterly feeble collection of covers — some recorded twenty years ago, some recorded as recently as this year with producer Don Was — that is at best merely uninspired and at worst borderline nuclear assaults on the very songs the band is trying to honor. The extent to which some of these tracks are butchered is simply astounding.
There are lots of examples here, but the one that seems the most blasphemous is Poison’s version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” How you blow this one is beyond me, but Bret Michaels and crew manage it fabulously, sucking the original of every last drop of soul and humanity and leaving it for dead right there in the studio. The Bowie cover “Suffragette City” is only slightly less awful but still utterly lethargic, and the Cars’ “Just What I Needed” provides all the evidence I’m ever going to need that the members of Poison have not even a superficial understanding of the songs they cover. Like, at all.
Let’s face facts: We’re not even talking about this album right now if not for Michaels’s celeb-reality series/slut festival Rock of Love. This blindingly obvious factoid aside, the band actually doesn’t sound half bad here; the problem is that they don’t have a single new or interesting idea to bring to this music, which is kind of the point of covering a song. I’d like to give Poison the benefit of the doubt, but this album just feels like a cynical cash grab by both label and band. There is no other way to justify its existence.