While the Greatest Hits 1986-1996 CD featured two newly recorded songs, Crack a Smile...And More is the first album of (mostly) new Poison material since 1993's Native Tongue. The main body of the album was recorded in late 1994 but not released until 2000, and while it features the two new Greatest Hits songs, the rest of the repertoire has never appeared on any previous Poison album. There are also four previously unreleased outtakes -- three from the Crack a Smile sessions, one from Open Up and Say...Ahh! -- and four songs done for a 1990 MTV Unplugged special ("Your Mama Don't Dance," "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Unskinny Bop," "Talk Dirty to Me"). It's easy to argue that, whether heard in the musical climate of 1994 or 2000, Poison sounds a little ridiculous singing pop-metal tunes with sleazy, often immature lyrics. But that misses the point -- Poison was always at least a little bit ridiculous, and that's precisely what made their music so much fun. And these songs are surprisingly up to par, as is the slightly awkward yet endearing version of "Cover of the Rolling Stone" -- maybe there's no one killer single here, but Crack a Smile is a consistently enjoyable listen. Poison knows exactly what they're doing, and they have enough self-deprecating humor to realize that it's "Tragically Unhip" (as one song title puts it), but they don't care -- they're making this music just for fun. Longtime fans should be quite pleased that this effort is finally seeing the light of day, because it captures Poison doing what they've always been best at -- and they're finally content with that.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey