POISON — Seven Days Live (review)

POISON — Seven Days Live album cover Live album · 2008 · Glam Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
OK, so I’m not a huge Poison fan. I was right into them at one stage though. I listened to “Open Up and Say... aah!” til the tape wore out (yes, back in the 80s), and I own “Look What The Cat Dragged In”, but then I stopped listening some time around the time I first heard “Unskinny Bop”. Being bored in lockdown, I had a quick squiz through my CD collection at a few albums I hadn’t listened to much, and came across “Seven Days Live”.

I don’t actually remember buying this particular album, let alone listening to it, and can’t understand why I would have bought it in the first place. After all, I parted company with Bret Michaels and the boys in the early 90s. I was in search of harder, faster music, and they certainly weren’t producing it. And besides, no self-respecting thrasher would admit to owning a Poison album. But I must have dragged this thing out of a bargain bin at some time. Poison were always the butt of jokes for their massive hairspray abuse, feminine looks, and CC De Ville’s supposed shortcomings as a guitar player. By the time this was recorded in early 1993, CC had been ejected due to tension in the band caused by his drug abuse problems, and hotshot guitar hero Richie Kotzen had taken his place. There was a joke circulating that Kotzen would have to wear boxing gloves to play as poorly as De Ville. Funny, but unkind.

So not being familiar with Kotzen-era Poison, this is all pretty new to me. What do we have? The first couple of songs I had no fucking idea about. Bland glam pabulum. This doesn’t seem promising. If the whole album is like this, it’s going to be hard going to get through this. Third song “Ride The Wind”? Oh fuck, I HAVE heard this before! I thought it was Bon Jovi. And no, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The next track is “Good Love”, from “Open Up...”, but I didn’t recognise it at first because it had more of a blues rock swagger than the studio original. Yeah, nah, don’t fuck with it. It wasn’t the best song ever written to start with, but if you’re going to do it different, at least do it better!

“Your Mamma Don’t Dance”, the band’s infamous Loggins and Messina cover, has a 12 bar blues swagger missing from their studio version. This time it improved the song, bringing it closer to the Loggins and Messina version. It’s still a silly party anthem.

Brett announced “Body Talk” was off “Native Tongue” so I don’t know it, but this ain’t too bad. Bobby Dall’s bass is more than solid, and these guys nailed the backing vocals. Kotzen finally lets rip with a too short solo, and Michaels proves he’s actually a pretty fucking good singer. Who’d a thought it? I hadn’t. And then Kotzen comes back for a longer, more satisfying solo. And apparently he cut it off short, because it was meant to be Brett’s piss stop song. Never mind...

You know that horrible taste you get in the back of your throat when you almost-but-don’t-quite vomit? Yeah, that’s “Something To Believe In”. Being live doesn’t improve it.

And “Stand”. More wimpy bollocks which I had heard before, but this time thinking it was Extreme. I really wasn’t paying much attention to these bands at the time these songs came out. I have no idea who these power ballads belonged to because I was more concerned with Sepultura’s changing sound, whether Bolt Thrower’s bottom end could actually wreck your speakers, and looking forward to what Entombed were going to do next.

“Fallen Angel” was a rare (for Poison’s first two albums) thoughtful song. It’s about the pitfalls of seeking fame and fortune in the big city, which the band knew about too well. It seems to have some deeper meaning to them than some of the other songs. It could have been a weepy ballad, but it’s a driven rocker instead. It’s one of the highlights of the whole show.

“Look what The Cat Dragged In” was silly, harmless fun when it was released, and it’s silly harmless fun here. It’s the epitome of what glam metal was supposed to be all about. Rikki Rockett punctuated it with a drum solo, and you know what? He’s not bad. No, he’s not Nico McBrain or George Kollias, but he knows a good rock groove when he hears it. And the solo isn’t too long, so no chance for it to get boring.

Blame the Black Crowes for “Until You Suffer Some (Fire & Ice)”. They made everyone think Southern rock was cool again. Hey, it never wasn’t cool, but the Crowes inspired mush like this.

The band really shines on “7 Days Over You”. Yes, it’s more blues rock, but this time it’s done well. It’s one of those week-long hungover break-up songs, when you realise she’s not worth it. It’s the best of the Kotzen-era songs. He shows he’s got the wailing licks and rocking chops to make a real go of this sort of music.

And so just when you thought Poison had got too mature and serious, up pops the dopey duo of double entendre filled sexytime songs in “Unskinny Bop” and “Talk Dirty To Me”. These are the sort of dumb fun anthems that made cock rock popular in the first place, but also ultimately led to it’s demise.

Or was it the ballads? Nobody ever out-ballad-ed “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, the quintessential acoustic glam weepy. Michaels and Kotzen together on guitar add an extra layer to the original. And that voice. No, he’s not one of the all-time great singers, but this is a guy who had perfected his craft through years and years on the road, and can connect with his audience.

Imagine finishing a show on such a downer. Well, yeah, maybe a band like My Dying Bride could finish on something melancholic, but this is supposed to be one of the ultimate party rock bands, so the finale is a belting version of “Nothin’ But A Good Time”. And this is what this is – a band having a good time, with a crowd also having a good time as a means of escaping their regular workaday lives. It’s fun, and unapologetically so.

Yeah, so Kotzen didn’t last too long after this. He turned out to be human filth and got caught fucking Rikki Rockett’s missus, so got booted from the band later in 1993. Poison sounded different with him – more mature and subtle, but a lot less chaotic and fun. He was replaced by Blues Saraceno, and eventually CC made up with Bret and got back into the Poison fold.

OK, I gotta say it. Bret, and the rest of the fellas onstage at the Hammersmith Apollo on April 23 1993, that was actually a pretty fucking good time.

I still don’t know where the fuck this CD came from though.
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