Certain songs immediately send you back in time from the opening riff. Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” is definitely one of those songs.
From the very first drum (pad) hits, you are once again with Ronnie, (no Bobby,) Ricky and Mike (DeVoe, Bell and Bivins, respectively) — a three-man followup made up of group members from New Edition. The hip-hop/R&B trio released their album’s title track in 1990 ushering in a new sound definitively of its time.
“Poison” is also one of those songs that rides that thin line of nostalgia between making you “aw yeah!” or “oh no!” when you hear it. Where you are on that spectrum definitely says something about you. (I’m a proud “Aw yeah!”)
Among others, former NE bandmates Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown are given shout-outs in the song. This was perhaps my first encounter with the “shout-out.” (I was that kid who’d record the song from the radio and hit rewind/pause/play until I figured out all the lyrics and wrote them down.) (Old man voice: “Kids these days and their Googles!”…”Get off my lawn!”)
I won’t get into the graphic details revealed in the song about said Poison(ous) lady, it suffices to say: she is not good news. But, if there’s anything to learn from the song, it’s: “Never trust a big butt and smile.” Truer words, BBD, truer words…
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