Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Dokken - Live From The Sun

Opening with Erase The Slate, the title track from the band's hard 'n' heavy last studio record, significantly the first with ex-Winger guitarist Reb Beach, Live From The Sun is a statement that the band can persevere while offering all the firepower of the Dokken of the golden hair heyday. And it's kind of cool this thing isn't the sprawling thing it could have been (and their last live one was), Don and Co. playing it close to the vest offering a tight eleven tracks, including classics like Into The Fire, Breaking The Chains, In My Dreams and most importantly, Tooth And Nail amongst only two new tracks (while staying completely away from the unfairly maligned Shadowlife). The sound is splendid, Dokken adventuresome with his vocals, Brown and Pilson keeping greasy grooves (visions of Appice/Bain?), while Beach delivers his razor-sharp riffs, squeals and hammer-ons with aplomb. Packaging-wise Live From The Sun also delivers, with 40-odd pro-quality live photos and satisfying enough credits. Y'know, it is what it is, and it is what expected. About all I can tell you is that no one drops the ball, including those in charge of production and mix.
Rating 7.5

Poison - Crack A Smile... And More!

Kinda cool when this stuff happens, the long-discussed shelved 1994 album from Poison finally seeing proper release, an event likely forced by the improved technologies driving distribution of the leaked bootleg. The album is a type of universal stretch and grab for the band, funky, celebratory, soft, loud, subtle, but always upbeat and sparkly, very much like a David Lee Roth collection, zinged and zapped with experimentation, powered by the jagged pop metal axework of new guitarist Blues Saraceno. Look for the blinding sunburn metal version of Cover Of The Rolling Stone which sounds oddly like Guns n' Roses, a metaphor for Poison's everyman's hair status, generality working in their favour. But just to beat the boots but good, Poison adds fully eight bonus tracks, two planned b-sides to Crack A Smile (both a welcome sort of strip mall, fast food Aerosmith), an older b-side and four old hits given the MTV Unplugged treatment. And just to keep you in the know, all of this is explained in the booklet's detailed liner notes. Bottom line: a package done up right, from a band who along with the Crue, has found a way to stay in the faded hair band spotlight, Poison's particular ace being Bret Michaels' enthused entrepreneurialism and pervasive vim and vigor for party anthems outside of metal's limitations.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 5