Released: 2010, Collectors Guide Publishing Inc.
Regular readers of my book reviews may recall that one of my most common criticisms of rock biographies and autobiographies is that they tend to live in the past and skip the present. A SHOT OF POISON has the opposite result. The book focuses heavily on the Poison tours of 2006 to 2008. This is also the story of Florida native, Chris Long, a local media and entertainment personality. This is his story of his relationship with the band, Poison.
As a book it is decent enough, a paperback, 15 chapters, 240 pages long with tons of photos, quotes and anecdotes. They help bring the story to life. However, the book seems to have lots of filler, namely huge, unnecessary gaps between paragraphs, tons of ‘white space’ and huge font quotes that eat up tons of space. There are also dozens of pictures of needles. (as in a shot of poison). Actually it’s not needles plural, it the same damn picture of the same needle, over and over and over, used to fill up space. If this book was laid-out in a standard fashion the book would be really short, probably only 150 pages long. That’s not really a big negative, it’s probably better to have a streamlined story than have it padded with filler. It looks cool and the script is easy to read but of limited interest for people who are not fans of Poison or bands of that style and era.
A SHOT OF POISON is not really Long’s autobiography. In fact he spends very little time talking about his personal life outside rock ‘n’ roll and work. The vast majority of the book (11 of the 15 chapters) he documents his time as Bobby Dall’s (Bass, Poison) Personal Assistant from 2006-2008. The first three chapters give some brief background about himself, the band Poison, and the final chapter wraps it all up taking us to early 2010. It’s very current which is nice to read a book about the later years of a band, not just a misty-eyed nostalgia piece.
The bulk of the book is about him being on the road with Poison. It’s not really that well written to be honest. It’s a collection of unconnected anecdotes and stories with little or no backing support. As a narrative, it’s a bit weak. Long merely collected his notes from the tours and sort of dumped them in a book. But, he was there and stories of life on the road and backstage are pretty juicy. He also has a really good attention to detail, he recalls dates, time and places with ease, so there is no reason to doubt the credibility of his tales. Some of the stories are pretty revealing about the various habits (good and bad) problems, attitudes and neuroses about the various members of the multi-platinum act. You get the sense that they (band and crew) all work very hard (despite the fights and problems) to make the perennially touring machine work.
Long deems at times to exaggerate his importance and connection to the band. The bio of the author, printed in the book, says he has a 20 year relationship with the band. Well, that’s not really accurate. He was friends with Dall when they lived in Florida, but as an actual working member of the bands entourage he toured with them as Dall’s gopher and groupie wrangler, in 2006, 2007 and only part of 2008. In 2009 he was told his services would no longer be needed. That hardly translates into 20 years.
Despite the authors tendency to exaggerate his role, and at times play the role of the victim of the machine he comes across as sincere. He talks about having a handicap but never truly explains what that handicap is, except for hinting that he is partially deaf. A SHOT OF POISON is a really fascinating behind the scenes look of the band in the back half of the last decade. Long pulls no punches and sometimes the stories ain’t pretty. I’d be curious to read Dalls autobiography one day because they always say there are three sides to every story, yours, mine and the truth.