Review Summary: An unpretentious slab of Michaels indulging in his favorite hobby, and creating half-decent music in the process.
It says country, but it isn’t. Not really. Sure, what we get in Bret Michaels’ second solo outing (after debuting in 1998 with the A Letter To Death Row
movie soundtrack) is more countrified than even your average late-period Poison album, but it can never be considered “country”, in the Johnny Cash or Hank Williams sense of the word. Instead, what it amounts to is six songs’ worth of Michaels indulging in his favorite hobby and pouring out his mind. And for what it is, the results are surprisingly decent.
Released in 2000, but recorded right after Poison disbanded in 1995, these Country Demos
were never intended to see the light of day. Instead, this collaboration between Michaels, producer Buddy Killen and a host of unidentified musicians was to be a strictly internal affair, more of a way for Michaels to vent his influences than anything else. However, as so often happens, the Internet changed all of that, and the volume of bootlegged leaks of these songs led the pair to actually release them as an ultra-rare extended play.
With no additional work on the production, a slapped-together cover and no mention of Michaels’ backup band, this release comes across as almost bootleggish, in both appearance and sound. Like A Letter From Death Row
, the sound quality is grainy and rough, except this time the tracks are admittedly unfinished demos, which goes some way towards explaining that fact. As for the music itself, it sometimes strays remarkably close to Poison territory – as in the two power ballads included here – while at other times affecting country mannerisms, like the chug-a-long pace of opener Future Ex-Wife
. However, neither the music nor the lyrics – which mostly deal with the kind of tongue-in-cheek sex stories the glam genre is known for – ever really fit into that bracket, making the album something of a hybrid. The quality of the songs, on its part, remains in the realm of the decent, with only one clear misstep over the course of the EP.
Leading the pack in terms of attractiveness is Future Ex-Wife
itself, a short, breezy, fun country-rock blast which succeeds in attracting the listener’s attention to what comes afterwards. Vying for the second-place spot are Hot Dang Mama
and Like I Do, I Do
, two typical mid-tempo country-blues stompers capable of causing a smile. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is less accomplished, with the two power-ballads sounding like less interesting versions of similar Poison tracks and The One You Get
constituting the only declaredly awful moment of this EP. A painfully syrupy duet with an unnamed female vocalist, it comes across sounding like one of those horrible 90’s radio ballads – think Celine Dion, except worse. Its seemingly interminable length does not help one iota, causing the listener to start yawning uncontrollably within the first minute or so. Overall, a horrid miscalculation which almost brings the whole album down.
Fortunately, however, the remaining songs retain sufficient quality to still make Country Demos
a worthwhile listen for Poison fans and country buffs alike. Sadly, the small scale, rarity and hybrid nature of this release make its relevancy virtually nil, even for Bret Michaels/Poison aficionados. It’s not worth the 133 dollars it is currently fetching on Ebay, but if you’re in the mood for twenty-odd minutes of rockified country songs and ballads, it may be worth a download.
Like I Do, I Do