Bret Michaels

Songs of Life

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Copping a stylistic change eerily similar to pro skater Bam Margera (right down to the Old English initials on the cover underneath his full name) and Kid Rock circa 1999, everybody's favorite hair metal filmmaker returns to the fold with something totally not removed from his glory days of Poison. Right from the get-go, Bret Michaels wastes no time doing what he does best: relating to the average working Joe. "Menace to Society" is a beautiful tone poem dedicated to stickin' it to the man, which if it sounds all too familiar, it's because it is. He did the song way back in Poison's heyday and called it "Nothin' but a Good Time." Nevertheless, "Menace" is that song redux with a Green Day or Hot Topic band du jour feel to it. Think of it as "Nothing but a Good Time 2.0" and you'll be all set. Moving on, "Bittersweet" and "Raine" sound like Poison's "Fallen Angel" and your favorite Poison ballad, respectively. Things keep on non-rockin' with "Forgiveness" until the murky "Loaded Gun" comes on in and reminds you what a Bon Jovi B-side could sound like if Jon and Richie didn't care about what they wrote. "Songs of Life" sounds like a horrible musical ode to John Cougar Mellencamp's "Small Town," and the song would be much better if Mellencamp made an appearance. The ballads make their final appearance with "One More Day," and then for a grand -- and I do mean grand -- finale, Michaels does the sensible thing and throws his hat into the antiwar ring with the most intelligent and intelligible song on the whole record, "War Machine." As a bonus track, the tune "Party Rock Band" makes a most welcome reappearance (it originally appeared in Bret's movie, A Letter From Death Row), and by far and away, it's the best song on the album. If you're a fan of Bret, you're no doubt going to enjoy Songs of Life all the way through start to finish. Everyone else should just stick to the Poison greatest-hits records.

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