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POISON - POISON’D! - EMI
Record Rating: ****

POISON - POISON’D! Building on the Ramones’ dirty rock ‘n’ roll, the Stones’ disco licks and the glam rock of Kiss, Poison created hair metal before there was a term for it. The band crafted the blueprint that would be copied and duplicated for the better part of the decade, while frontman Bret Michael’s antics were copied by singers who took everything literally. One of the first and most influential rock bands of the 1980s, they were known as much for their backstage groupie antics, outrageous clothing, heavy make-up and seemingly endless abuse of alcohol and drugs as for their music.

After a relatively lacklustre decade, even the band’s recent detractors may not be able to resist the constant flow of the big guitars and sweet hooks that pour out on their latest album Poison’d! This time around, they tackle 13 songs of artists whom they like and share roots with, and play pretty much strictly by the book, with Michaels shaping his voice to match the tones of the original singer.

There’s a ringing rousing take on The Cars’ power pop classic Just What I Needed, a faithful rendition of The Rolling Stones’ underappreciated Dead Flowers, and fuzzy guitar driven rousers of The Who’s Squeeze Box and Tom Petty’s I Need To Know. Not all the covers work; their overamped versions of The Romantic’s What I Like About You and Jim Croce’s folk classic You Don’t Mess Around With Jim strips those songs of their original emotional impact, turning them into placid tunes. Still, few could achieve an artistic comeback via a covers album; and as Poison’d proves, Poison now sound more like a genuine rock ‘n’ roll band than they ever have. Fans of both Poison and the original artistes will be pleasantly surprised with the result.

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