Poison’s ‘Open Up and Say… Ahh’ marks 30th anniversary

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Thirty years ago, glam metal rockers Poison rocketed into the public consciousness with its sophomore effort “Open Up and Say Ahh…”

The band, which comes to Connecticut next week, already had established its foothold on radio and MTV with its debut, “Look At What the Cat Dragged In” with its hit single, “Talk Dirty To Me.”

Those releases on the independent label, Enigma, opened up the opportunity for a deal with Capitol—a major label.

Heading into the studio for Capitol to record its second album was “scary,” said the band’s drummer Rikki Rockett in a phone call from California.

Adding to the sense of trepidation, Rikki said the band had just changed management as well.

“It was a very nervous time,” said Rikki.

Although “Look At What the Cat Dragged In” was a hit, Rikki said,“It takes you a whole lifetime to write your debut and a few months for the sophomore.”

“The pressure was on,” said Rikki.

Although Poison was nervous heading into the studio, Rikki said when they finished what became “Open Up And Say… Ahh,” they were pretty confident about what they had created.

But the question still was how would their new record label feel about it? said the drummer.

Poison—which also includes Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, and Bobby Dall— held a listening party for the new album, and invited the people of Capitol to hear what they had done.

“I just remember looking at people’s faces,” said Rikki. And they were smiling, said Rikki.

After the album faded out, Rikki said one executive told Poison, “This just made my job easier.”

“Open Up And Say…” went on and became the band’s best selling album.

One of the tracks, the hit single “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” also became one of the all-time most memorable classic power ballads that is still a staple of rock radio.

But when the band recorded “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Rikki said they had no idea the track would have legs three decades on.

“We were too inside of it to tell it would become a classic,” said Rikki.

Instead, said Rikki, Poison looked at the product as a whole. “This is a good record,” they said at the time, said Rikki. “We did our job.

“We didn’t think we were creating something legendary,” said Rikki.

For this tour, Poison is headlining, unlike its most recent tours with Def Leppard and Motley Crue. As an opener, Rikki said, the band had to pack its limited time on stage with all the hits. But as headliners, Rikki said the band has a chance to throw some of the deeper tracks into the mix. The exact set list, said Rikki, relies on the flow of the show and what makes sense.

For this tour, Poison will be heading out with Pop Evil as the opener and Cheap Trick paving the way next for Poison to take the stage.

Rikki is excited to be on the road with Cheap trick. “They’re pretty amazing… I get to watch them every night. These gusy are so professional… What an inspiration.”

Cheap Trick, in some ways, set the stage for bands like Poison, which played loud but always had catchy melodies.

“We got beat up for (using having catchy melodies),” said Rikki.

But melodies give a song longevity, he said. “The melody is key,” said Rikki.

With a Poison song or a Cheap Trick song, Rikki said, “You could sit around a campfire with an acoustic guitar and it’s still a song.”

Eleven years have passed since Poison released a new studio album, “Poison’d,” which found the band mining cover songs they liked.

Rikki said he would like to see the band release some new music. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Rikki of recording some new Poison music. And he said a new album would be great for the fans.

Poison, Cheap Trick, and Pop Evil come to the Xfinity Theater in Hartford on Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.LiveNation.com or www.PoisonOfficial.com

Poison comes to Xfinity Theater in Hartford next Thursday with Cheap Trick and Pop Evil. (MARK WEISS PHOTO)

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