Poison. A band that presents what many people loved – and hated – about the explosion of successful big haired, make up wearing Glam Metal bands of the 80s. Sporting neon guitars, and – at least in the case of later Poison – gracing MTV with their tacky synchronised dancing (don’t believe me? Look up the video for “Nothin’ But A Good Time”), this band are indeed a signature stamp of their era.
Now it’s only right that I address the album cover first, since it incidentally happens to be a reflection on Poison’s music – very gimmicky. On this striking debut, what appears to be four brightly made up women (if you squint a bit), actually happens to be the four members of Poison. Even amongst other famous bands of the time, this band somehow managed to take the drag look to a new level. It has been argued that the cover is merely meant to be a funny parody of the Beatles’ Let It Be, because apparently the guys had a real sense of humour. Fair enough. On the other hand, it seems clear that the cover is not a parody, but a representation of what the band – and many rock fans – thought was cool at the time. It must be…. this is a band that claimed they put the “first wheel on the frickin’ (glam) bandwagon…well fine, alright, second wheel…first was Alice Cooper”. Yes, ok Poison, let’s just ignore every other glam band that came before 1986, shall we? Not to mention that Motley Crue and Van Halen did the same thing with their album covers, and still managed to make it look vaguely cool.
However, even though the band are often ridiculed by rock fans these days (and quite rightly so, they just set themselves up for it), let us put this into context. This is a debut album by a band that made themselves to look outrageous because that’s what the 80s rock scene was like at the time. Lyrical content was cheap and guitar riffs were large. So condemning them only for being annoyingly cheesy and catchy would be a little too quick to judge.
Instead, starting with a good point; this album is probably a better album overall than any of their other material. Certainly better than their more famous album Open Up And Say…Ahh! as it has far fewer cringingly cheesy moments. Musically, it can’t be said that it’s bad. CC Deville’s guitar riffs are on point, as heard in “Blame It On You“, though his solos are nothing special or entertaining. The drum fills are good. The bass is about as good as you may expect from your average Glam Metal band. The music isn’t complicated, or intricate in the slightest – it is just the direct delivery of easy listening riffs and hooks.
However, the album has downfalls. Lead singer, Bret Michaels, appears to exaggerate his accent when he sings; and it comes across as pretentiously over the top. It doesn’t help that what he sings is actually cringe worthy in itself a lot of the time, as he tells “I’d like to slide it in / but where do I begin?” because he “can’t get no nookie”. Coming from an era of bands that concentrated their lyrics around “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” Michaels’ lyrics are still weak in comparison. Choosing to name a song “#1 Bad Boy“ speaks for itself.
Look What The Cat Dragged In has to be turn off for people who can’t stomach the obnoxiousness, or 80s chart rock in general. It’s definitely listenable if you are looking for something fun and easy, without being too judgemental. Actually, taking everything into account, this album probably deserves a higher rating than any other Poison album.
Best Track: Play Dirty