Rock | Hair Metal
The Best Poison Songs of All-Time
When Bret, C.C., Bobby and Rikki got together, they made magic. Sexy, pretty magic. Looking like ladies helped, of course. Sexy, pretty ladies.
Top 10 Ranked
Less magic when Richie Kotzen and Blues Saraceno were in the band, but then again, their sound was a bit tigther, a bit more evolved without the feather boa weightlessness of DeVille’s guitar.
And that’s no insult, should you be reading it that way. We’d take a front row seat to his double stops and pull-offs every day of the week. C.C. DeVille is as much Poison as Bobby, Rikki and Bret. If you don’t know, the band’s positions, well, stage positions, looked as follows:
- Bret Michaels (vocals)
- C.C. DeVille (lead guitarist)
- Bobby Dall (bassist)
- Rikki Rocket (drummer)
As for Poison itself, they released a slew of hits in the late 80s and early 90s. Unlike Def Leppard, who did their damage over a two decade span, Poison managed to squeeze everything into a 5-6 year burst of fame. Essentially, their career is defined by the years between the release dates of Look What The Cat Dragged In and Flesh & Blood.
Their best songs weren’t always chugging hard rock songs, often leaning on a power ballad or two in the climb up Mt. Superstardom. MTV darlings, Poison was the Scottie Pippen to Motley Crue’s Michael Jordan in how hard they went with everything.
Hit Songs by Band
Talk Dirty to Me
At the Drive-In! But not in the Summer of '69, Bryan Adams meets a girl, and they stand on his mama's porch and hold hands kind of way. Yeah, anything but.
Talk Dirty to Me was the song that put Poison on the hair metal map. And the Billboard Hot 100 for that matter, with the song peaking at #9 on the charts.
Interestingly enough, the song was the subject of a 2011 lawsuit from the members of Kid Rocker, a Chicago rock band in the mid 80s. They alleged that Poison, via a C.C. DeVille audition prior to joining the band, stole the music for Ride the Wind, along with three other Poison hits, I Won’t Forget You, Ride the Wind, and Fallen Angel.
Nothin’ but a Good Time
Nothin’ but a Good Time is the champagne toast of the glam metal genre. Whether that’s actual champagne or cheap Andre is up to your to decide (or Miller High Life, Champagne of Beers).
A tribute to the everyman (or woman), Good Time is their party anthem. It’s got a killer riff, super sing-a-long chorus, and, it punches immediately and doesn’t let up.
The video only enhances that attitude, as a frustrated and fed up dishwasher kicks down the back door of the restaurant to find Poison, live in concert. We’ve kicked down some doors in our life, but we never found Bret and the boys crying tough behind them.
We’re convinced that Classic Rock royalty, Aerosmith would have sounds like Nothin‘ but a Good Time had they come out in 1986.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Poison’s biggest hit is glam country hit smash, Every Rose Has Its Thorn off of their second album, Open Up and Say ... Ahh.
A true, bonafide Number One Hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Every Rose is among the greatest hits of the entire glam genre, despite the only tonal commonality being the tube-saturated lead on C.C.’s finger-tapped B.C. Rich in the music video.
The catchiest of the “dun-dun-dunnah” riffs, Fallen Angel is a bitchin’ tune that never, ever gets enough credit where Poison is concerned. It’s got fun lead lines from DeVille, punchy drums from Rocket, and some lovable lyrics about the hard knock lifestyle of Los Angeles from Mr. Michaels. Plus, the choral gang vox are always in season.
“Just like a lost soul caught up in a Hollywood scene, All the parties and the limousines, Such a good actress hiding all her pain, Trading her memories, for fortune and fame”
It’s all right there in the lyrics to the song. Poison never leaves anything up to the imagination. They are more than happy to tell you about all of the ladies they know and keep you abreast of what they’re up to. Ahem.
Other Dun-Dun-Dunnah Riffs
- Crazy Nites (Danger Danger)
- True Believer (Lillian Axe)
- And like, 10 other glam metal hits
Something to Believe In
Poison’s strongest lyrical content is the piano-driven tune, Something to Believe In off of their third studio album, Flesh and Blood.
What does that even mean?
Look What the Cat Dragged In
If you’re going to name an album Look What the Cat Dragged In, then there might as well be a song with the same name on it.
Your Mama Don’t Dance
A cover tune! And, a rollicking good time of one at that.
Poison, true to their glam cover band form, cover this Loggins & Messina tune fairly well.
Ride the Wind
Saddle iron horses of chrome. Steel made of soul and sin.
Poison’s tribute to the motorcycle, which is every bit a symbol of freedom as an Eagle in America, Ride The Wind is a song with the carefree pace of a 45mph bike trip through the canyons at sunset.
Played through a saturated tube amp, the main riff is a creamy, overdriven invitation to rev up the Harley-Davidson until it runs out of gas; which it won’t, because it runs on an endless supply of Aquanet.
Tough is how everyone cries, right? We do, don’t you?
If anyone cries tough in Poison, it’s Bobby Dall. Dude’s teased hair and pouty lips in the late 80s were among the best of all 80s bass players at the time.
I Won’t Forget You
As Billboard writer, Christa Titus put it in 2017, I Won’t Forget You has the lyrical profundity of a, “99-cent greeting card”. And Christa is correct.
But it’s hair metal, so who cares? It’s a track on their debut album. An acoustic track. A ballad.
It’s not their finest work lyrically - that would be Something to Believe In - but it’s good enough to get the job done as rookies on the scene. In fact, it’s essentially the song you first write when you want to be taken seriously after years spent as a cover band on the Sunset Strip.
Not even kidding, they’ve covered Rock and Roll All Nite (Kiss) and We’re an American Band (Grand Funk Railroad), a song featured on Poison’d, their seventh studio album.
Just know that when Bret croons, “Although miles come between us, Just between you and me”, he’s not talking about missing his girl when he’s on tour in Milwaukee and she’s back in L.A., no, those miles are literally just the miles between Spaulding Square and The Flats.
If Bret cared, he’d be there. He laughs to himself when he sees the pictures of her in his head. That’s not the signature move of a man desperate to requite her love.
I Won’t Forget You is just a chapter in the book of wistful tales that hair metal bands tell about ladies who aren’t the ladies they are currently with.
Look But You Can’t Touch
Good girls go to heaven, Bad girls go to hell. It’s clear to you which train Poison bought tickets for here, right?
To their credit, the band actually pens a ditty that ends with the girl successfully fending off the advances thrown at her. For the time being.
Look but You Can’t Touch is an underrated Poison song and that’s why it made our list of the best Poison tunes of all-time. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it’s basically Baby It’s Cold Outside performed in Cheetah-print spandex.
I Want Action
A rocker that is all about ... well, action.
A song that was also embroiled in a lawsuit. According to Blabbermouth.net, “Acclaimed '80s Swedish glam-rock band EASY ACTION, which featured in its ranks future EUROPE guitarist Kee Marcello, reportedly took POISON to court for allegedly "stealing" the chorus to the EASY ACTION song "We Go Rocking" for the POISON U.S. smash-hit "I Want Action" and was said to have been awarded a financial settlement in the case.”
Perhaps they should have changed it to I Want Legal Action?
On second thought, Winger should have changed Seventeen to I Want Legal Action.
Until You Suffer Some (Fire & Ice)
You can hear Kotzen’s influence all over Until You Suffer Some. And that’s because he wrote it. It was one of the six songs he played at his Poison audition. He and Bret later tweaked some of the lyrics after he earned a spot in the band. The years of rock have been kind to Mr. Kotzen, as he’s still playing this song in live shows.
Odd thought: If Game of Thrones had come out in the 80s, some clowns would have suggested this song get used just for the Fire & Ice callout. Lame.
Bonus: Rikki’s Solo
Because why not? Drummer Rikki Rockett had a drum solo on the live album, Swallow This Live. Technically a double album, Swallow This Live was a compilation of live cuts of Poison‘s earliest material.
Bonus: Sexy Back
Yep. That happened. And we’re including it because it’s hilarious.
Yes, that means we’re skipping material on Power to the People, Hollyweird, Native Tongue, Crack a Smile and others in favor of a Timberlake cover on Poison’d.
It’s good to see that their cover band days are not behind them.
Other Poison Songs
- Want Some, Need Some
- #1 Bad Boy
- Play Dirty
- Blame It On You
- Let Me Go to the Show
- Back To The Rocking Horse
- Love On The Rocks
- Tearin’ Down the Walls
- Good Love
- Bad To Be Good
- Strange Days of Uncle Jack
- Swampjuice (Soul-O)
- Valley of Lost Souls
- Come Hell or High Water
- Don’t Give Up an Inch
- Life Loves A Tragedy
- Poor Boy Blues
- (Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice
- Let It Play
- Ball and Chain
- Life Goes On