Hair Metal is a bit of a niche genre within the huge soundscape of Metal itself. By 1990 and the dawn of a new decade, it was clear to many that upcoming trends (e.g. Grunge) would turn the genre on its head once and for all. Still, there was some time before bands like Nirvana would sweep the world in popularity, for better or worse. Interestingly, the album cover is actually a real tattoo sported by the Poison drummer Rikki Rockett, who volunteered to do so for all intents and purposes of the album cover. In any case, this should be interesting listening in retrospect, so let’s dive in and take a good look at this album.
Strange Days Of Uncle Jack begins the album with some interesting keyboard based sounds that incorporate flanger and crickets. Some extra melodies enter, along with radio transmissions. A different sounding intro, this is really out there and rather spacey. Some talk is sampled in the right channel, along with some wailing guitar leads as well. Different, but good. It segues straight into the next track.
Valley Of Lost Souls quickly launches into a Heavy Metal groove and wailing leads that are super awesome. It changes tempo dramatically and goes into the sort of thing that sounds typically Hair Metal, but is outstanding in its own way. The vocals by Bret Michaels are really fantastic and energetic, and this song, believe it or not, is actually fantastic. It points to the fact that Guns ‘N’ Roses had some real competition at the time, and the Metal riffing here is superb. Guitar based music was well alive and kicking, and this is proof that back in 1990 that this was the case. An enjoyable and uplifting tune, the guitar solos present are truly amazing. A great listen for Hair Metal, this blows away a lot of the competition at the time. A very excellent and top tune, Metal was still alive in 1990. It ends abruptly. Great song.
(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice begins with some crunchy and rather unusual guitar riffs, and pounding drums and launches into a very mainstream sounding song. Enjoyable with some soulful backing vocals, this is not merely a Van Halen rip-off. Instead, the music is original and very well done, it sounds very retro and excellent. A great singalong and enjoyable piece of music, it will take you right back to 1990 and will make you headbang all night to these songs. The musicianship and quality of playing here are fantastic, and although the music present is very much straightforward Metal with many wailing guitars, this still sounds amazing to this day. Enough to motivate many young guys to pick up a Gibson Les Paul and plug it straight into a 100 Watt Marshall Amplifier and play for hours on end, this is a lighthearted and enjoyable take on music compared to the 1980s seriousness of Metallica. A great and simple song with a singalong feel to it, this is outstanding and great for what it is. Great music, with some powerful riffs and drumming at the end. Mint.
Swampjuice (Soul-O) begins with a sigh, before launching into a rather random piece of acoustic fingerpicking that sounds very fast, and a little odd. It’s a good piece of music, quickly launching into a very southern USA sounding piece of music, complete with slide guitar that sounds quite quirky. An unusual tune, this does sound great though and is over before you know it.
Unskinny Bop is one of the most popular pieces by Poison ever made. It begins with some banging drum rolls, thumping bass and wailing guitar leads that rival AC/DC in many ways. Sure, it is a little cheesy today, but the sound and construction of this song are really fantastic. This is a strange song but is a great listen throughout from start to finish. The quality of the mixture of musicianship, style and playing propel this tune way ahead of most Hair Metal ever made. Bret Michaels makes for a great lead singer, as well as C.C. DeVille as a killer lead guitarist. In other words, this is superb and fantastic. A great song to listen to and enjoy, this is a fun and killer tune to hear on repeat. Great tune.
Let It Play has a strange intro with a load of singing and backing vocals. Seemingly, it’s a parody, which it is. Soon enough, loud rock guitars enter and this piece gets going away nicely. It is a really quality tune that is surprisingly good and fairly dated to this day, but still enjoyable all the way through listening to this song. This is the sort of cheesy mainstream 1980s styled Metal that Metallica fans, in particular, would hate, but it sure sounds great and optimistic as well, in comparison to Metallica’s deep and dark world of scariness. The guitar solos present in this song are really fantastic. Soon after they conclude, some Syd Barrett style vocals enter, before the bridge and chorus sections of the song return. A very underrated and excellent song, this is great to listen to. It speeds up at the end but sounds really excellent. Great tune, once again. It fades out very well.
Life Goes On begins with some crushing leads and some spacey keyboards. This is a slower and moodier piece to listen to, and it is an emotional ballad to hear. This works better than anything Van Hagar was doing at the time, it just fills a void that was present in the music of the time of release. A decent but fairly sad-sounding song, this is a sort of late 1980s/early 1990s Metal ballad that would appeal to mainstream audiences. There is a semi-shred style moody guitar solo present here, and this sounds very unusual and dated today. The playing, still, is amazing and it just sounds like these guys were well done on their own chops. A slower and emotional song, this does seem to be forced onto the album to impress female fans more than anything else. Still, it works. A good piece of Hair Metal that works surprisingly well. Different.
Come Hell Or High Water begins with synchronised drums and guitars before some wailing lead guitars enter. These are really fantastic, and just sound excellent and top here. A refreshing and different tune about having self-confidence in a world of mediocrity, this is a more upbeat and enjoyable listen that sounds really great. This is another great slice of Hair Metal that hasn’t become as dated as even some of the Acid House music from this era, seriously. This is an excellent and enjoyable batch of tunes that just does sound amazing and glorious. The breakdown in the second half is super cool, man. After telling the listener to “kiss my ass”, a loud and wild shred guitar solo emerges. This is mind-blowing stuff, it just sounds really fine and excellently done. A really great song, and definitely worth listening to today, despite the prejudice against bands like Poison. The chaotic guitar solo at the end is fantastic, and a must-listen from this album. Excellent tune.
Ride The Wind begins with some straightforward guitar riffing, with a slight nod to the music that U2 made on The Joshua Tree album. This song is a less impressive one but is by no means awful or bad. It just lacks energy and good melodicism about it. In any case, this tune is still not a million miles away from the stuff played in the Wayne’s World movie series, and it really does sound interesting anyway. The guitar solo isn’t as shredtastic as before, but nonetheless, the music here is indeed, refreshing. Another good song that seems somewhat lacking, this is still an amazing album with this lesser tune. It ends with heavy guitar riffage and hi-hats, a nice touch.
Don’t Give Up An Inch sounds like a very retro late 1980s styled piece of sexual Rock and Roll sleaze. It’s intended to be, and one can laugh at the dirty intention of the music here. A very cool and dirty song with equally dirty guitars galore, this song exudes Hair Metal glory and a male sexual attitude that is interesting, retro and fairly laughable. Still, the music on this album is memorable and great, and this song is no different. The guitar shredding in the solo section is very amazing, and this song sounds unique and well put together. Nonetheless, musically this does work extremely well. A great listen throughout, this is a good song, complete with a slow dive bomb whammy bar outro. Cheesy, but great.
Something To Believe In has a piano at the beginning, which is different. This adds a more serious dimension to the music at hand. This song is directly about the influence of TV evangelists and Christianity. Difficult to understand why this song is on a Poison album, but it is another moody piano-led ballad about the conscious compromise of religious movements and the misery and suffering that people in the human race frequently endure. Regardless, of whether you believe in the doctrine of Marxist Communism or its likely opposite, Judaist based Christianity (or anything in between), we all need something to believe in. This song will help at times, and the guitar solos are awesome. A very good song that is Poison attempting to widen their audience, it is moody and deep. Nice tune but no doubt some fans will not like this song. The musicianship here is excellent, though.
Ball And Chain begins with some acoustic slide guitar in the left channel, which is a bit strange. This is followed by some beefy electric guitar in the right channel that matches the tune exquisitely. Soon enough, this bursts into another loud, heavy and rocking Metal tune that sounds really powerful and excellent. This album does seem to burn out a little towards the end, despite the fact that it sounds powerful and excellent in its own way as a listen. This song, however, sounds rather average and not as impressive as the music before it. The guitar solos are shred based, again, making a big impression on the listener. In any case, this tune is a good song and it should keep Hair Metal fans satisfied. It ends with some great electric guitar playing, good work.
Life Loves A Tragedy begins with some strange guitar work, but it sounds good for its strangeness. Soon enough, this song gets going and it tells the tale of tragic circumstances. Indeed, as one gets older, we may lose sight of what we originally enjoyed when younger. Soon enough, there is a count in and this piece gets rocking away nicely. A powerful, deep and unique tune that is excellently delivered, Poison fans will appreciate this song which is halfway between a Rock tune and a straight-up Pop Ballad. Nonetheless, this song is very listenable and enjoyable, although again, it could be perceived as somewhat dated today. Every moment is great and sensationally enjoyable, and the overall effort on these tunes, and this album, are fantastic. A fine shred guitar solo is here as well, no doubt blowing many Rock fans away in its wake. A great listen, all the same, a high point towards the end of this mega album. Nice to hear, it ends with sustained chords. Excellent.
Poor Boy Blues is the last song on this rewarding album. It begins with some pseudo-Blues singing, wah-wah guitar, 12-bar blues and a keen sense of variety. This is totally unexpected and pleasant to hear and adds a nice slice of variety at the end of the album. Before long, harmonica enters and this piece gets rocking away nicely. Obviously, Poison had some great tricks up their sleeve, and this is a great and interesting listen throughout. The mixture of basic Blues and wah-wah guitar done expertly by Poison sound very different here. Around the middle, everyone in the band has a solo. That’s right. This is madhouse blues 101, and don’t you forget it. This is a totally enjoyable piece of music, and it sounds fantastic. An enjoyable, if not-so-serious listen, Poison finish up this album very well. Excellent tune, something hopefully something that Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan would dig. It ends with a chaotic drum roll and some furious guitar parts. Nice work boys.
This is an excellent album for what it is. Sure, some of it is quite like self-parody at times, especially given the musical context. Still, this album is a good slice of Poison that isn’t overly toxic. If you want to hear Metal that is light and not-so-serious, this is a good starting point. After 1990, Hair Metal died a quick and painful death, but this is a very enjoyable listen overall. Worth it if you like Shred-style guitar as well.