Sound: In some ways, "Native Tongue" sounds like the natural follow-up to "Flash And Blood." Listening to "Flesh And Blood" you can see where the band was going, incorporating elements of blues into their sound, along with some mature themes. The three minute sex-laden anthems that had so defined the band's first two albums were eschewed, in favor of longer songs with greater musical complexity. All this was done fairly successfully, as "Flesh And Blood" came of as a sincere, non-pretentious attempt for Poison to grow as artists.
"Native Tongue" sees Poison delve further into the bluesy ballad/anthem territory that made it's mark on "Flesh And Blood." Gone, however, with the departure of C.C. Deville is the power-pop styling that defined the band's sound on their first three albums. Richie Kotzen, a far more technically proficient guitarist, gives the album rapid-fire riffs and solos, far more complex than anything the band had seen before. Kotzen's writing on the album is apparent, as the band's level of musical sophistication increased significantly. Many of the band's key signature elements are still in place, however, such as strong harmonies and sing-along choruses. // 10
Lyrics: The album's title track, "Native Tongue" is a short drum instrumental with effects, and sounds like theme music from "King Kong" setting the mood of the album. Injustice is addressed in "The Scream," a would-be arena anthem which makes for a great opening song. The album's first single and minor hit "Stand," written around the time of the L.A. Riots, is another attempt to look at prejudice and inequality. A soft-spoken ballad with force and a church choir, the song is ambitious and effective. The mid-tempo "Stay Alive," is a pretty good rocker that keeps up the momentum. One of the album's strongest songs "Until You Suffer Some (Fire And Ice)" is a ballad that Bon Jovi could only dream of writing. The rocking "Body Talk" and "Bring It Home" are good, although the latter sounds a little flat. The album mixes it up a bit with "7 Days Over You," featuring a horn section, which works quite well. "Ritchie's Acoustic Thang" is a short instrumental that's pretty cool. Another very strong track "Ain't That The Truth" is quite catchy and would have been a good choice to use as a single. The ballad "Theatre Of The Soul" sounds like a mature update of "Every Rose Has It's Thorn." "Strike Up The Band" sounds like a gritty remake of "Ride The Wind" although not as good, it's still effective. "Ride Child Ride" is a good, if not great rocker. "Blind Faith," another more lyrically mature song about taking chances and having confidence, is another very strong song. The bluesy closing "Bastard Song Of A Thousand Blues" is good, if not overly long. // 9
Overall Impression: Although "Native Tongue" was an earnest attempt to mature and stay relevant, the album unfortunately bombed. Richie Kotzen was soon fired from the band for sleeping with drummer Rikki Rocket's girlfriend and the album was soon forgotten. Throughout most of the 90s "Native Tongue" sat in the cut-out bin next to Vince Neil's "Exposed," (1993) Motley Crue's self-titled (1994) album and David Lee Roth's "A Little Ain't Enough." Today the album is ignored by the band themselves, as they play only "Stand" and even then only occasionally.
While "Native Tongue" may not be a masterpiece, it's still a pretty good album, one that deserves to be heard. If you see a used copy lying around, give it a chance. // 9