Review Summary: A perfectly adequate, but also rather standard, example of a live album from the glam period, likely to interest no-one but the more diehard fans.1 of 1 thought this review was well written”Southern California, are you ready!? From the gutters of Hollywood, California, please welcome: the ‘glam slam’, kings of noise, POIIISOOOONNNNN!!!”
With this fairly standard proclamation, spoken over the sounds from Strange Days Of Uncle Jack
, begins a similarly standard live album for the period. Poison’s 1991 outing Swallow This Live
manages to effectively achieve the main goal for a live album during the glam period, capturing the group at the height of their popularity, if not of their form, and serving as a means to show off to their potential audience. Sadly, however, it does very little to set itself apart from the slew of multi-disc-with-accompanying-live-video sets which flooded the market at the time. Even the time-honored strategy of including previously unreleased studio tracks as a fan-baiting measure brings this record close to releases such as Alive II
by KISS, which were using these tactics a full fifteen years before this came out.
Don’t be misled into thinking, however, that this is a sub-par album. Performance-wise, the band do nothing wrong, and most of the versions for their hits are eminently listenable; Bret Michaels is a natural-born entertainer, and holds the crowd under his thumb during the whole ninety minutes, giving off an incredibly spark in his interaction with them; his three instrumentalists all give confident performances, never once betraying the inner tensions being felt within the band at the time and making the most of the live setting, often breaking off into little jams, as well as the mandatory drum and guitar solos; and the setlist is well balanced, encompassing all the major hits from the group’s first three albums, as well as a few oddities (Poor Boy Blues
and Look But You Can’t Touch
chief among them). But despite all these undoubtedly relevant strenghts, Swallow This Live
never manages to transcend the level of adequacy to become a live classic. It is just there
, a dignified addition to anyone’s discography, but by no means a candidate to becoming their favorite album.
At times, the album does come close to relevancy in the “live glam” sector. The first disc in particular has a very strong sequence, with Good Love, Life Goes On
and Ride The Wind
all getting lively, larger-than-life interpretations; similarly, megahit Every Rose Has Its Thorn
, on the second disc, is interpreted with the heartfelt poignancy it deserves. Elsewhere, however, things don’t go so well, with opener Look What The Cat Dragged In
suffering from excessive crudity, and Look But You Can’t Touch
, itself a pedestrian song, toiling under an uninspired arrangement. Most of the rest of the songs stay firmly within the realm of adequacy, with only Michaels’ penchant for changing the words and the tempo in which they’re delivered providing a slight source of irritation. As for the solos, they’re as expendable as any on this kind of record; however, the drum solo at least has the decency to keep us interested throughout, which is more than you can say for C.C. DeVille’s ten-minute guitar doodling. The other big selling point of this album – the new songs – also prove to be something of a letdown, with only single So Tell Me Why
really standing out. This is a fun, peppy song, which might have made for a good single for Flesh And Blood
or even Open Up And Say…Aah!
. The remaining three tracks do little to make themselves known, being no better or worse than the songs on either of those albums, and following along the same sonic lines.
At the end of the day, then, this is a perfectly decent and respectable live album, but one which ultimately does nothing to really stand out. If you have the early Poison albums, you don’t really need Swallow This Live
: a few changed arrangements and four average new tracks are not enough to justify the purchase. If you don’t know Poison, this could be a good way in, but you would have to be lenient towards the lenghty drum and guitar solo sections, not to mention there is a much better option available in the recent Seven Days Live
, a release which gives off the kind of live spark this one often lacks. What little audience is left consists of Poison diehards and completists, which this album was arguably aimed at in the first place. Those will rejoice in the opportunity to bear witness to one of C.C.DeVille’s last appearances with pre-split Poison; everyone else, however, is likely to not give a damn.
: Good Love, Life Goes On, Ride The Wind, Something To Believe In
: Every Rose Has Its Thorn, So Tell Me Why