Review Summary: A stellar example of a Best Of done right.
As most people know, the mid-90s were far from a good time for hairsprayed cock-rock bands. With the rise of grunge, many of these poser outfits either called it a day or tried to mature their sound, in a last bid for relevance. Poison were among this latter group, but unfortunately for them, their experiment bombed, with Native Tongue
being the nadir of the group’s original discography. Still, after firing Tongue
axeman Richie Kotzen, the band started work on what would be their fifth album, Crack A Smile
. Alas, this too was cut short after Bret Michaels was involved in a motorcycle accident, forcing Capitol to shelve the almost-completed album. However, the recording company did not sleep on the job, and pilfered a couple of tracks from Crack A Smile
for the ten-year anniversary Best Of, creatively titled Poison’s Greatest Hits 1986-1996
. And while things really weren’t going well for the band, at least the label managed to profit from the entire situation, with the final product constituting a stellar example of a Best Of done right.
In fact, unlike many other such compilations – which go for strange choices in the place of obvious ones, lack bonus material or are shoddy in the graphics department – Poison’s Greatest Hits
manages to succeed in all three fronts. The first point is scored with the lineup itself, which very few would argue against as representing the best of Poison. The selection is large, spanning the band’s four albums and including all the songs the foursome became known for, with very few omissions or debatable choices. One could have argued in favor of Good Love
, the fun stomp from Open Up And Say…Aah!
, but other than that there are very few gripes anyone will have with this lineup. The attention to detail even goes as far as including So Tell Me Why
, the single and one of the four studio tracks of live album Swallow This Live
. And while Native Tongue
predictably gets the short shrift, with only Stand
being included, this stands to reason, as that song was just about the only good thing to come out of that album. All in all, the selection borders on perfect, and it is only heightened by the two aforementioned bonus tracks, which despite not being anything special, nicely round up the package, and offer fans an excuse to buy this album.
However, as if the excellent lineup wasn’t enough, Capitol went to the trouble of contacting recovering singer Bret Michaels and have him write liner notes explaining all these songs. These are absurdly interesting – for a fan, at least – and effectively heighten the value of this package. It is here that we learn that most of the group’s songs were based on real-life events, that Nothing But A Good Time
is a reworking of a pre-Poison hit and that Unskinny Bop
was made up in the spur of the moment, when Michaels was trying to impress a pornstar. And while this latter story in particular smells a little fishy, there is no reason not to believe everything else that is said on the booklet, making this another notch in this album’s expanding belt. Couple that with a few hilarious photos (in a good way) and you have a pacjage no 80’s fanatic will want to do without.
In the end, then, Poison’s Greatest Hits 1986-1996
is a strongly recommended buy, effectively sparing casual fans the hassle of going after Poison’s discography and introducing them to the band the proper way. And while Best-Of compilations are seldom the right way to get to know a band, this one will have to be regarded as an exception. Stellar.
Ride The Wind
So Tell Me Why