September 21, 2006

CD Review: Poison - Remastered 20 Years Later

The music scene was a very different place 20 years ago. There was no such thing as grunge or nu-metal, it was a time when hairspray and makeup was marching its way up the charts. 1986 was a big year, with big releases by Bon Jovi, Europe, and Cinderella, but it was probably Poison that had the biggest impact on the glam-rock scene that year.

Poison released Look What the Cat Dragged In in 1986, their debut, and the start of their chart topping dominance that they would have for the next 4 years. That first album featured such hits as "I Want Action," "Cry Tough," and "Talk Dirty to Me." They followed that up with the 1988 album Open Up and Say.... Ahh!, which was instantly notable for it's censored cover. It proved to be an even bigger smash, featuring chart toppers like "Your Mama Don't Dance" and "Every Rose has its Thorn." Two years later, completing their classic hairspray trilogy, they unleashed Flesh & Blood, leading with the infectious "Unskinny Bop." The album also spawned the power ballad "Something to Believe In."
To be honest, they may have just been a party rock band that wore a lot of makeup, but there is something to be said for their ability to craft those catchy hooks and speak to a generation. They'll never be songs that will change the world, but they marked a time when excess was the name of the game. Poison took everything to the limit. Over the top stage antics, crazy back stage tour stories, and legions of fans marked their years at the top.

To celebrate the two decade anniversary of that first album, and perhaps to cash in on the recent reunions and subsequent nostalgia tours of many bands of the era, Capitol Records is releasing their first three platinum selling in newly remastered packages, complete with some bonus tracks on each.

All three of these albums were in sore need of a retooling. I don't know how many of you have the original CDs, or any CDs from those years, but when you play them next to a more recent recording, you are sure to hear a little bit of a difference. The biggest thing is the change in volume, the recordings were so much lower than they are now, so much that you have to turn the volume way up to get a similar level to a current recording. Now, if you have these mixed in with newer recordings, you are going to need to keep a close eye on your colume control, lest you get blasted out on the song changes.

These new remasters sound great, and listening to them really took me back to my early days of being a music fan. It was the late 1980's when I started to get into music, and the glam days proved to be my gateway. It was around the Open Up and Say... Aah! days when I started getting into music. Poison wasn't my first choice, but they proved to be a top choice, along with Warrant, Europe, and Motley Crue. The new releases really brought back a flood of memories, as the music did mark a period in time, that will never be duplicated, and is probably better off that way.

The bonus tracks on each of these albums are pretty good too. On the first album you get a couple of early mixesof "I Want Action" and "I Won't Forget You," both of which are good, if a little lesser than the album proper mixes. That first disk also has a bluesy rock track called "Don't Mess Around with Jim," which is a little different for a Poison tune, but a nice inclusion. Open Up has a vault track called "Live for the Minute" which is a decent cut, but I see why it wasn't included originally. Also on the disk is an interview track which runs about ten minutes. Finally, Flesh & Blood has an acoustic version of "Something to Believe In," and an instrumental version of "God Save the Queen."

Bottomline. If you like Poison, you need to get these disks. If you are looking for a reminder of the glorious days of 80s excess, you need theser disks. They sound great, and the music is fun, what more do you need to know?

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Anonymous said...

While I have not heard the remasters, I find the original to fine. So basically your saying they pegged the meters higher and maybe ended up over-modulating the songs as is the current trend. It's a shame no one is an audiophile these days...

ConcernedCitizen2321 said...

Creating more headroom by increasing the S/N ratio is EXACTLY what us audiophiles want to see. "pegging the meters" helps you hear more music and less noise.

When you play a remaster next to its original, the difference is night and day and is akin to watching a movie in HD versus SD.

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