Friday, February 28, 2020

"Talk Dirty to Me" by Poison

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3057
Date:  03/14/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  The roots of this band go back to 1979 when lead singer Bret Michaels first started a band in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Over the next four years, the band would go through personnel and name changes while developing a good local following. Wanting to be more than just a popular local band, Michaels along with Bobby Dall, Rikki Rockett, and Matt Smith decided to take off for L.A. in 1983. They rechristened the band Poison and tried to get a foothold in L.A.'s West Hollywood club scene. The band had a rough go of it for a while, which led to Smith heading back home. C.C. DeVille would step in and take his place. Finally, after three years of building up a reputation, the band caught a break and got signed to Enigma Records. They quickly assembled a debut album titled Look What the Cat Dragged In and pushed out its first single, "Cry Tough," in the fall of '86. The song flopped and failed to chart. It didn't bode well for the album and things looked a little grim, but the band started to get noticed thanks to opening slots for other established acts like Ratt. This second single was then released and the catchy rock tune began to take off. Aided by a popular MTV video, the song climbed the Pop chart and eventually cracked the Top 10. In turn, the album began to sell and eventually hit #3 in late May.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't the biggest fan of hair/glam metal at the time, but some of it I did enjoy. The portion of it that I really disliked was the sleazy stuff and if a band tended to swing that way, I just wasn't interested in them. So when this trashy track came out, I wasn't having it. I immediately wrote Poison off. These dolled up guys (nearly looking like drag queens) with their tattoos, bad behavior, drugs, and alcohol surrounded by scantily clad babes singing about talking dirty did not enthrall me. I mean, was I supposed to take these clowns seriously? Well, a little time and distance provides a different viewpoint and while Poison is still not one of my favorite glam bands, I do have a better appreciation for their work. They did have a knack for writing fun, pumped up rock tunes with hooky choruses. They didn't put on airs and didn't pretend to be anything more than what they were. Along the way they tossed out some glam pop-ready confections like this track. I ignored it way back when, but now I find this stanky piece of bubblegum rock a bit hard to resist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song plus four others on the album were the subject of a lawsuit. It seems that back around '84, C.C. DeVille auditioned for a band called Kid Rocker. To prepare for the audition, he was given tracks to learn. DeVille didn't end up with the band and they broke up not long after. DeVille then joined the band Screaming Mimi headed up by former Kid Rocker Billy McCarthy. But that didn't last too long as DeVille decided to try out for Poison. One of the songs he did for his audition was an early form of "Talk Dirty to Me," which DeVille had supposedly written and even performed with Screaming Mimi. DeVille got the gig and ended up co-writing all the songs on the album, which included an updated version of "Talk Dirty to Me." The LP was a major success, launched Poison's career, and became a hair metal classic. Flash forward nearly 25 (!) years later to 2011 when two of the former members of Kid Rocker, including McCarthy, decided to file a lawsuit against Poison for copyright infringement. The lawsuit claimed that DeVille, who had been given that tape of songs for his Kid Rocker audition, ended up using parts of those tunes in four tracks on Poison's debut LP including "Talk Dirty to Me" and "I Won't Forget You." Had the lawsuit been filed back in the 80s when the LP became a hit, this might have been a tricky suit. If the plaintiffs had those recordings and were able to show direct correlation between them and the Poison songs, Poison might have been in trouble. However, no one got to hear any evidence on the case because the judge deemed that too much time had passed and dismissed the suit. Why the lawsuit was filed decades after the fact is a mystery, but time was certainly not on their side. As to the question on if DeVille copped parts of Kid Rockers' song, we likely will never know and the late lawsuit kind of made the point moot.


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