Poison - Hollyweird
Cyanide Records
Hard Rock
13 songs (41:58)
Release year: 2002
Official Webpage
Reviewed by Mike

Ever since the original members of Posion reunited a few years ago, they have toured constantly. During that time, Poison began to be referred to as a nostalgia act since they toured year after year without releasing a new full length studio album. Poison did release Power To The People a couple years ago which I honestly did not like. It contained mostly live tracks, but the handful of new tracks failed to impress me at all. Having said that, I wasn't expecting this new Posion album to be anything memorable.

Well, twelve years after the release of Flesh & Blood, the original members of Poison have put together one hell of a hard rock album. They have carried the party / good time rock feeling that dominated their music in the 80's through to Hollyweird. Hollyweird (as the name may indicate) contains songs that talk about the over indulgent, wild life that can be found in Hollywood. Posion has made some small but notable changes (mostly on the production and mixing side of things) to create an album that celebrates the band's roots without sounding dated in the least. Most notably, the bass level is turned up when compared to the band's prior albums. This gives the album a more meaty and heavier sound overall. In my opinion, the bass levels were quite anemic on their first three albums, so this bump up in the bass level to where it should be gives the songs the urgency that they deserve. Secondly, the echo and reverb effects on the harmony vocals are almost non existent. Instead the harmony vocals sounding very, very polished (as was common in the 80's), they are quite raw ala Motely Crue's debut album, Too Fast For Love. But still, the chorus lines are still as catchy as they ever were and won't leave your mind anytime soon. The drumming is also subject to a bit different sound than was found on classic Poison albums. Again, the drums have a much more raw, yet crisp sound to them. I don't see this as a bad thing at all. Instead of the snare hits given the echo effect, the drum hits on Hollyweird sound much more natural. With the beefed up bass sound and the stripped back mixing / production to the drums and harmony vocals, I think Poison have aimed to eliminate some cliché 80's traits from their sound, yet maintain the classic Poison spirit and vibe. I think the band has done a perfect job maintaining their identity while updating their sound in just the right way to stay a viable player in today's market.

Like I said, the songs themselves are the same party / good time rock we have come to expect with a slightly more raw and heavier sound. Thirteen tracks, ZERO ballads! I never thought I'd hear a Posion album without the obligatory ballad. Well, I guess the absence of a ballad could be due to the absence of a major record company pressuring the band into writing commercial hit as well as the band's desire to move on and write a solid hard rocking album. Sure, Something To Believe In and Every Rose Has It's Thorn are classic ballads, but I'm glad the band chose a more straight forward rock album. Again, perhaps the band wants to move forward and show that they can still rock with the best of them.

Without getting too long winded, I want to elaborate further on some specific tracks. First of all, Emperor's New Clothes, Livin' In The Now, and Home (C.C.'s story) feature C.C. Deville on vocals. Surprisingly, he sounds much better than I thought he would. Sure, his voice has a bit of a punk sound, but music is still trademark Poison, so after a couple listens, I was able to adapt to C.C.'s vocals as he does a good job on these tracks. However, I'd rather C.C. reserve his vocal duties for his own band Samantha 7 and let Bret handle the mic for Posion as Bret is simply better suited. I was surprised (and worried) to hear that Squeeze Box, a cover song is scheduled to be the album's first single. Actually, it's a very good rendition of the original. Without knowing that it is a cover tune, it would be very easy to assume that it is a Poison original as the band has done a great job making this version their own. As I have touched on before, C.C. sings a version of Home. Bret also sings a version of the same song. It is a very catchy song and each version gives Bret and C.C. an opportunity to put some of their Hollywood experiences to music. C.C.'s version is quite humorous to say the least. I would guess that C.C. could have sung a 20 minute song about his wild days of the past! From start to finish, Hollyweird is a consistent offering of good time / party rock that we are used to hearing from the band, but delivered with a more mature, slightly heavier sound.

Hollyweird should appeal to long time fans of Poison. The attitude and vibe of this album is 100% pure Poison. The different production style and beefed up bass give the album a harder edge while maintaining the attitude and spirit the band has had since the 1986 release of Look What The Cat Dragged In. I'm pleasantly surprised to see the band gain a harder edge with age as Poison have proven that they are NOT a nostalgia act.

Killing Songs :
Squeeze Box, Shooting Star, Get 'Ya Some, Wasteland
Mike quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Poison that we have reviewed:
Poison - Seven Days Live reviewed by Jeff and quoted No Quote
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