Open Up And Say... Ahh!


Capitol Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I’m not going to sit here and pretend I was ever a huge Poison fan. When I was in high school, they were the antithesis of everything those of us who were deep into heavy metal believed in. To admit you liked Poison was an immediate loss of your street cred. To this day, I still find a lot of what Bret Michaels and crew cranked out in their glory days to be insipid and formulaic.

That said, their sophomore release Open Up And Say… Ahh!, was a definite improvement over their debut effort, both in terms of songwriting and performance. And while it’s still light-weight hair metal, it’s far more listenable and—dare I say it? —enjoyable.

Best known for spawning Poison’s only number one hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Open Up saw Michaels and the band—­guitarist C.C. DeVille, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett—plow through nine originals and one cover track. (The reissue includes one bonus track and a “making of” interview.) Surprisingly, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is not the best track on this disc to my ears—listenable, to be sure, but just a bit too sugary sweet.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The standout tracks to me might surprise some people—the first being “Fallen Angel,” the second single from the album. In terms of rock anthems, it seems to fit the bill quite well, with a catchy chorus that locks the listener in quickly. The other is a lesser-known track on the disc, “Good Love”—one that possibly sticks out in my mind after being featured on the live album Swallow This Live. Clocking in at just under three minutes, it is a track that proves that Poison could hit the bullseye with their work, and there was more to the band than their glammed up image. (For that matter, the leadoff single “Nothin’ But A Good Time” is just as enjoyable a track.)

All of this said, Open Up And Say… Ahh! still shows that Poison had room to grow. Tracks like “Love On The Rocks,” “Back To The Rocking Horse” and a poorly chosen cover of Loggins & Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance” demonstrate that Poison was still having problems breaking free from the glam-rock mold they locked themselves into. Lightweight cock-rock efforts and—at least on “Back To The Rocking Horse” —an overreliance on the cowbell showed that Poison still had some ways to go before earning true respectability in the hard rock genre.

That brings us to “Bad To Be Good,” the album’s closing track—and the one where Poison finally seems to be breaking out of how they were molded commercially and were allowed to come into their own musically. A funky rocker with a solid bass line from Dall and shredding guitar from DeVille, one wishes there were more moments like this on the disc.

Open Up And Say… Ahh! is still not an album I’d say would be on heavy rotation on my stereo (though my wife would surely disagree with that judgment), but showed that there was still some hope for Poison, and that there was some substance behind the mascara.

Rating: C+

User Rating: C



© 2023 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.