Let me preface this entire post with the fact that I love the band Poison. They are not great compared to the best bands of all time, but are quite good and they delivered some fun, blues-driven, sophmore humor infused songs that, I believe will stand the test of time. I adore the Flesh and Blood album especially.
While listening to SiriusXM's Hair Metal station last night, I was given the opportunity to hear Richie Kotzen and The Winery Dogs do a couples songs. While trying to refresh my aged memory, I was reminded that Richie was the guitar player for Poison for an album in the early 90's. Native Tongue was the album released after firing CC Deville from Poison and trying to, in my opinion, mature their sound overall. The band didn't care for this record that much, but I think the guitar work is much better than CC. Then again, I consider squealing brakes to be roughly the equal of CC Deville on any given day. With that said, I decided to listen to this album after reading a review or 2 on Amazon that claimed it was the best Poison album period, despite what everyone else says. Were these people stubborn and unwilling to listen to reason? There was only 1 way to find out. Reminder: I am doing this so you don't have to.
Here it is...Track by track:
- Native Tongue – Intro music is so 90's. Good piece, could do without Bret going all "skiddly bop" somewhere in the background. I think this album hit right about the point that Bret started thinking/hoping he was in Aerosmith.
- The Scream – Bluesy and solid first song for the album. Good intro to Richie Kotzen, who was stepping in to replace CC Deville. Again, Bret thinks Blues = random mouth noises.
- Stand – Moral apologetic ballad. This is right in line with the ballads that started on the Flesh and Blood album and comes off now as cheesy and silly. "I know the soul of a good man has got to be free." See what I mean? It's an okay song and I remember loving it when this album was released 25 years ago.
- Stay Alive – Can I just say how much I love Richie Kotzen on guitar compared to CC or even with no comparison? There is a nicely crafted guitar sound for this song. Solo is great along with the overall riff for the song. Overall a good song marred only by Bret making random noise.
- Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice) – Starts with a very "Yellow Ledbetter" (which was released the year before as a b-side for Jeremy, BTW) guitar intro. This song is all about Poison showing some soul. Bret's voice works for it and the song, the 2nd single from this album, is pretty good. Poison found a good niche with the relationship/motivational ballads.
- Body Talk – Driving bass line and low end riffs. This has Kotzen all over it. Very nice song. The vocal cadence is very Bret circa Flesh and Blood. This feels the most like a classic Poison song so far on the album given the subject of the song.
- Bring It Home – "I don't know what to believe, bring it home..." Another moralistic approach with a very gruff sounding Bret leading the vocals. Lots of cliche lyrically. Strong musical work here. Solo is on point and the drums stand out for me here.
- 7 Days over You – This is the type of song I have always preferred Bret to sing. It's the goold ol' "relationship lost, what do I do?" kind of song. For some reason his voice matches this theme well. Musically it's a standard affair, no pun intended.
- Richie's Acoustic Thang – Kotzen does a quick little riff on the acoustic guitar. Good job. All of these make me think of the intro to Tesla "Love Song" and they all fail by that comparison sadly.
- Ain't That the Truth – Swingy and bluesy. Reminiscent of a David Lee Roth song, for lack of a better comparison. Maybe Bret is the illegitimate son of DLR and Steven Tyler? I dunno. The one area where Poison has always suffered is when they lean more to the blues, I just don't feel like Bret can quite deliver. I also typically hate songs where the singer "skiddly bops" the riff along with the lead guitar.
- Theatre of the Soul – Bret is selling his soul and looking for a pot of gold here. Another story of hard times and bad decisions. I am starting to think that this album should have been about 11 tracks as opposed to 15 and this song wouldn't make the cut. They usually do well with ballads, but this feels like a sequel musically to "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" and just never gets there for me.
- Strike Up the Band – Strong intro and build gives way to a faster paced, old school rock song. Nice riffs here on the guitar. This is fully a bass and drum driven song. The song is a nice return to form after "Theatre".
- Ride Child Ride – Another standard rock song that includes sittin' and thinkin' and the good times that might accompany that. B-side at best.
- Blind Faith – Starts with the exact same drums as "Unskinny Bop". This, however, is not the "Bop". I am going to be honest here...I love Poison. They are a good band and have put out some great songs. I am tiring of this album. It wears on you. While musically it is solid, it's about song 13 where my "give a crap" meter starts to dip drastically low. This song is more cliche and not that well written. The best part was remembering "Unskinny Bop" thanks to the drum intro.
- Bastard Son of a Thousand Blues – I am not a huge fan of "the blues". The one thing I hate more than the blues is when a rock'n'roll artist fancies themselves better at the blues than they are. This song is Bret proving that point. Harmonicas are almost always dumb and sound horrible. I say "almost" because there are exceptions. The best thing here is that this is the last song on the album.
Overall, this is NOT the best album by Poison ever. While musically it is a more mature sounding album, with much credit going to Richie Kotzen, the lyrics are cliche, tired and seem to be repeated as themes through every Poison album ever. Having never listened to an album past this one by Poison, I would have to say it's their 4th best and at this point in time, Bret's voice is echoing in my brain and I can't see me queueing up anything else by them for a little while.