Category: The Smoking Popes

The Smoking Popes – Destination Failure

ARTIST: The Smoking Popes  Smoking_Popes_-_Destination_Failure_cover
TITLE: Destination Failure
SINGLES: I Know You Love Me, Before I’m Gone
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not unless you love the Smoking Popes.
LINEUP: Josh Caterer, Eli Caterer, Matt Caterer, Mike Felumlee
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Band makes a decent second major label record, but nothing catches fire with radio or MTV.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At first glance, you look at the track list and you think the Smoking Popes got caught up in the “gotta fill up this CD, you know” because at 16 tracks, it’s just three short of the total tracks on their first two records.

Then you notice that while there are a lot of good songs, nothing is as instantly ear-catching as Need You Around. So yeah, it is a disappointment. The songs don’t have that sparkle, hooks, or pop sheen that made the one before so well liked.

However, this is a record that you need more than one sitting to get, and then you get it in fits and starts. It’s not a masterpiece, and they could have really trimmed a few songs and still made an impact, but it was a fine record that could have consolidated their fan base and moved them into the new decade.

Instead, the record company rejected their next album and dropped them. Of course…

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They cover Pure Imagination, a song Gene Wilder sings in Willy Wonka.


GRADE: B: The record company didn’t hear a hit, neither did radio. It deserved a better fate, even if it was a bit padded with songs.

The Smoking Popes – Born to Quit

ARTIST: The Smoking Popes Smoking_Popes_-_Born_to_Quit_cover
TITLE: Born To Quit
CHART ACTION: #37 Heatseekers
SINGLES: Rubella, Need You Around (#35 Modern Rock)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Fans know this thing.
LINEUP: Josh Caterer, Eli Caterer, Matt Caterer, Mike Felumlee.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Croony punk band gets more power-poppy, gets major label deal, doesn’t lose their edge.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes a major label signing can help a release. Capitol Records saw that Need You Around was getting some airplay in Chicago and LA, and snapped this record up. This got it in more stores, and it did well.

Even though it’s not as punk as their debut, the feeling is still there – and definitely the sad-sack crooning of Josh Caterer is highlighted in the mix. Songs like the singles and the great Gotta Know Right Now (which definitely could have hit home for me in high school had it been released ten years earlier) show a maturing of the band without a loss of power.

It’s a short album, but it packs a lot of good stuff in less than 30 minutes. Some of the deep cuts aren’t as exciting or notable as the others, alas. Still, very solid.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Many wags thought Josh Caterer’s voice sounded a bit like Morrissey. Well, Moz himself loved this record.


GRADE: A-: Many great songs, a few average ones. The best of the bunch here got on many playlists and mixes back in the day.

The Smoking Popes – Get Fired

ARTIST: The Smoking PopesMI0003015825
TITLE: Get Fired
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let’s Hear It for Love and Can’t Find It were re-recorded for their 1997 major label album.
LINEUP: Josh Caterer, Eli Caterer, Matt Caterer, Mike Felumlee
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After three Eps (which will be covered later on a comp), the Popes release their first album that finds them in a rawer, punkier state than their breakthrough album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Josh Caterer’s voice is the most memorable thing about the Smoking Popes. The band can rage behind him and his croony tenor above the caterwaul makes you notice. In fact, a friend of mine said, “It’s Morrissey fronting a punk band!”

Get Fired, recorded in Lafayette, IN (HOOSIERS REPRESENT!), is rawer than their major label releases, but still shows the band in fine form. Josh’s vocals soar, the melodies are catchy and the lyrics are lovelorn.

Sometimes independent, raw albums don’t do justice to a band that relies on melody and pop sensibilities. The production somehow enhances these Smoking Popes performances.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I have read where the Smoking Popes were influenced by Liberace, Mel Torme, Hall & Oates, Dinosaur Jr. and the Replacements, among others. That’s quite a combo of influence.


GRADE: A-: I really like this, it’s short and to the point.