Swallow This Live


Capitol Records, 1991


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Damn you, VH-1's "Behind The Music". Not only do you get me hooked into watching shows about artists I'm not particularly interested in, but you actually make me want to dig through the Pierce Memorial Archives and re-listen to some of this stuff! (It's times like this I fall down on my knees and thank Jah that I don't own a single Tony Orlando album.)

The latest frenzy I've been sent into was thanks to their show on the glam-rock band Poison - a band who I did listen to in spurts during their glory days. But when the bug bit me, could I have gone the easy way and picked Flesh And Blood to review? Could I have gone the daring way and picked Native Tongue - a disc I thought was terribly underrated at the time? Hell, no, I went and dug out the two-disc monstrosity Swallow This Live, an album that highlights both the good and the atrocious about this group.

As a live album, it's passable, and is typical of what the metal scene had degenerated into around that time. There are times that I thought the crowd noise might have been boosted up in the mixing process, and there were times I thought that the crowd wasn't reactive enough. Musically, Bret Michaels and crew don't really impress in general with their live show, failing to kick new life into such bland songs as "Look What The Cat Dragged In," "Look But You Can't Touch" and "I Want Action".my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two things save the day. The first is the guitar solo from C.C. DeVille - who proves that his guitar was no prop... the sonofabitch can really play that thing well! While the disc proved to be DeVille's swansong with the group (and, looking back, it does sound like the band isn't quite firing on all cylinders in general), it makes me look at his talents in a more respectful light.

The second thing is the inclusion of material from Flesh And Blood. Sure, "Ride The Wind" isn't done up to the nines, but "Something To Believe In" really gets the crowd - and the listener - into the show. The raucous take on "Unskinny Bop" seems to be appropriate for both the song and the mood of the show.

Yet something about Swallow This Live just doesn't sound right to me - and I hear it on songs like "Fallen Angel" and "Talk Dirty To Me". Specifically, the backing vocals sound exactly - and I mean, dead-on - like the studio versions. I don't want to point any fingers, but it just strikes me as odd. And I'm sorry, but I've never liked Poison's rendition of Loggins & Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" - just let it die, guys.

The four studio tracks that round out Swallow This Live sound like tracks from the Flesh And Blood sessions, all of which prove themselves worthy of your time and effort. (I would, though, debate calling "No More Lookin' Back" as "Poison Jazz". Cripes, it's cut from the same mold as "So Tell Me Why," "Souls On Fire" and "Only Time Will Tell". Don't make something out to be what it's not.)

The one negative about Swallow This Live is that its excitement and overall importance just haven't held up well since it was released in 1991. It's not the best example of a live album you could pick up, and it seemed odd at the time that the band's fourth album overall would be a live disc.

I guess that Swallow This Live could still have some importance to some people out there - if you can still find this one, that is. For the rest of us, me may just as well live with the "greatest hits" disc.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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.