Poison – “Flesh & Blood” (1990)

PoisonYou’re probably thinking I’m going to tell you how much Poison sucks.  Sorry, but I can’t do such a thing.  You see, I like Poison.  They were shamelessly glam without trying to disguise themselves under any other pretense.  You don’t have to respect Poison, but you can certainly enjoy their tunes.  What I’m saying is — love ’em or hate ’em, you’ve gotta love ’em.

Poison’s third album was arguably their best yet.  They were older, richer, and in the case of Bret Michaels — balder.  By this point in their career Poison had softened the girlish looks they flaunted at the time of their debut (when they looked like almost bang-able chicks on the cover of their first album).  Anywayz, in a thematic sense Flesh & Blood takes stock of the previous few years of Poison’s ascent to the top.  They experienced, as Everlast would say, “the good side of bad and the down side of up and everything between”.  This album explores the bright and the dark side of Poison’s status as toast of the town in Hollywood.

Had Poison matured with Flesh & Blood?  They probably thought so, but the change was not significant.  Poison knew where their bread was buttered.  Glam rock was their game, and they wisely didn’t stray too far from a working formula.  The key here, I think, is the sticky sweet backing vocals.  Credit producer Bruce Fairbairn (and Poison themselves) with crafting perfect pop backing vocals that really bring out the “glam” in these preening poof pieces.  The quintessential bubble gum glam single on this album is Unskinny Bop — a brainless escape that goes down like a candy flavored shooter.  Another fine slice of hair-sprayed pop is the “deep track” Let It Play — one of the few really good Poison songs never released as a single.  I also think that the band’s ode to motorcycle culture Ride The Wind is one of their best songs.  If balladry is your guilty pleasure, Poison has two good ones on tap — Life Goes On and the smash hit Something To Believe In.  The latter is a great tune (IMO) with some heartfelt lyrics from Bret.  It tugs on the heart strings enough to almost bring a tear to my eye.  ALMOST.  My score: A

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