Review Summary: Twenty-one years after forming, Poison put out their definitive live release, and a vibrant, electric display of live rock'n'roll.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
The live album has long been a staple of rock’n’roll, in all its various forms. Classic rock is particularly guilty of abusing this type of record, though, and returning or reforming bands in particular love to use it as a cash cow, hoping to mask the lack of new material with fanbait release after fanbait release.
Take Poison, for example. Ever since their return in the late 90’s, only one and a half albums out of their entire output had been devoted to original material. Oh, sure, there was the cover album, Poison’d!
, but half of that was made up of preexisting songs, and the other half featured tracks written by someone other than Poison. As such, only Hollyweird
and the few new tracks on Power To The People
really gave the fans something new. The rest of the 2000’s was, for this group, filled with hit-or-miss compilations and live albums, culminating in 2008’s Live, Raw & Uncut
, their second live release in two years and the fourth in their career. Good for them, then, that it is also the best.
In fact, unlike previous live recordings by Michaels and Co, this one actually transcends its nature as a fanservice item and appeals to a larger audience, sitting up there with the rest of the decent live hard rock releases. And yet, at first sight, there’s nothing special to it; if anything, it is a more scaled-down release than similar outings by Poison, presenting only fourteen of the setlist’s eighteen tracks, and pretty much sticking to the safe choices. All the predictable hits are there, the group is once again opening with Look What The Cat Dragged In
, and the guitar and drum solos are back to their original length, even though they now get interspersed with controlled jam session which help make them more interesting. The only discordant note is the puzzling and highly debatable inclusion of I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine
, one of the most fantastically throwaway tracks in the band’s career, and seemingly only there so that fans could get something “modern” with their live show. There seems to be really nothing separating this from Swallow This Live
or Power To The People
, its two most direct predecessors. And yet, this is infinitely better than any of those releases.
The main reason why Live, Raw & Uncut
earns so many points in relation to its predecessors is its audience. Recorded at an open-air venue in St. Louis, MO – fitting, since the band had been trying to be southern for around two decades at this point – this concert features the most rabid audience Poison ever committed to record. The sparks flying to and from lead singer Bret Michaels are evident even without watching the accompanying DVD, and it’s little wonder the frontman appears at his most relaxed, joking with the Missourians and calling them “friends”. The rest of the band is at a similarly high standard – even if C.C.DeVille sometimes strays out of tune, producing some ugly squeals – and as a result, almost every song gets a lively, vibrant interpretation. Some even transcend their originals, such as Every Rose Has Its Thorn
, probably the most accomplished track on here. With a speeded-up tempo and steel-string picking, this is undoubtedly the best version of the song ever laid to record – and yes, that includes the original.
Other songs may not be as accomplished, but they remain at a high enough level to be recommendable. I Want Action
in particular comes off as fun as always, and one has the sense the band is having a good time. Even when a lowlight inadvertently rolls around – I Won’t Forget You
– it ends up being a one-off occurrence, and does not diminish the album in the slightest. By the time the album fades out to a pre-taped rendition of Nothin’ But A Good Time
, the listener can all but feel the electricity in the air, and leaves with the certainty of just having witnessed a great live show. Twenty-two years after their inception, Poison have finally hit the nail in the head and delivered the definitive live album of their career, and one of the definitive live albums of the genre. And even if we never hear from this band again, they can rest assured of having gone out on a high note.
I Want Action
Every Rose Has Its Thorn