Former Poison frontman, 2010 Celebrity Apprentice winner and standard bearer for international women’s rights Bret Michaels has announced he is releasing a star-studded new album in September.
In 1986 Poison’s debut album Look What The Cat Dragged In… came fully formed and larger than life, supported by a rave KKKKK review from Kerrang! editor Geoff Barton. A quick trip to Shades Records in Soho secured a copy as the band attended a signing in the tiny shop, all hairspray and smiles.
It was the LP cover more than anything that drew attention to itself.
I showed it to a friend, and told him I had discovered a new all-female metal band. “Which one do you fancy the most?” I asked innocently, waiting for him to fall into my trap.
“Well she’s a bit rough” he ventured cautiously, sensing a trap. “Top left looks like a bloke”. He looked more closely at the picture of CC De Ville, and then at Bret Michaels. Bret (I think, or was it Rikki Rocket?) was winking seductively, but my friend preferred blondes. “She’s the best of the four” he declared pointing out CC.
As I triumphantly revealed they were all blokes, he rolled his eyes skywards, annoyed at himself for falling for such an obvious trick.
I was such an idiot when I was younger…
Album opener Cry Tough gave way to some almost forgettably trashy songs that increasingly fell over each other in their race to reach the end of the record. It was a triumph. Recorded cheaply, sounding great. With songs like Play Dirty you could tell this wasn’t just a bunch of posh boys putting on an act. The riff to the title track is as heavy as anything you’ll hear by an LA band. They looked fun too: the video to Talk Dirty To Me showed the band rolling about and swinging guitars around their necks. We were easily pleased in those days.
The song Blame It On You is highly (and unintentionally) amusing. A lament to a girl who perhaps is a little more chaste than Bret Michaels is used to, (which isn’t, I suspect, setting the bar very high) it appears to contains the immortal line “I can’t get no nookie”. Perhaps one of the quaintest phrases you’ll ever hear on a rock record. Sadly I must rule out a nod to Roger De Courcy’s ventriloquist bear. (It seems doubtful that particular 1970’s UK pop culture reference ever reached Pennsylvania, but I’m happy to be corrected on that one: it’d make the line even better).
The whole make up and hair was slightly puzzling. It wasn’t like Bowie or Bolan, who dressed androgynously to shock and confuse. Poison were not seeking to confuse the establishment. It was clear that they dressed that way because American girls loved that look, evidenced by the tales of debauchery in their interviews. What was puzzling to me was why girls found that look so appealing. Or, to my teenage self, more like why that was more appealing than the way I looked. If men dressing up in their mums clothes with shaggy permed mullets wearing make up were more successful than I was with women, what hope was there?!
In retrospect, the answer to why a girl would be more attracted to a rock star with freedom, wealth, good looks and success than a skinny shy UK teenager with bad hair who lived with his parents and had a surprisingly sarcastic manner was always staring me pretty hard in the face.
Poison deservedly went on to greater commercial success with their next two albums. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn was a US #1. They even bothered the Top Twenty in the UK with Unskinny Bop. However they never made an artistic statement as great as the one that ended with the song Let Me Go To The Show and the immortal lines shouted by an old bloke: “You heard your mother – turn that s- off!”
Bret Michaels and Friends: Get Your Rock On is released in September and features collaborations with Michaels and Loretta Lynn, Joe Perry (who play on a reworking of the Poison hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn“) Jimmy Buffett, Lil Jon, Michael Anthony, Ace Frehley, and members of .38 Special, Skynyrd and Blackfoot.
Record #76: Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In
Categories: Hard Rock