In 2011, The Smoking Popes released a barn burner of an album called This is Only a Test. It was a welcome return to their pop punk roots and showcased a new chapter in their creative career, the introduction of a character-based concept album. The Popes are back with a new EP, the first on SideOneDummy Records.
SideOneDummy Records owner and Complete Control Radio host Joe Sib now counts The Smoking Popes as being an artist in his stable. Sib has made a name for himself by releasing live recordings, in the vein of the Peel Sessions from the early years of punk rock. This initial offering from The Popes is a live EP of five songs, two new songs, two old songs and a cover. The new songs “Let’s Call it Love” and “Hey Renee” are familiar enough and are worthy to be counted as part of their inventory. Granted, neither is A-game material. But, they sound like The Popes and that’s all that matters. What’s intriguing is their inclusion of a cover of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. “We started covering ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ right after Susan Boyle did her version of it. We were inspired by her story, so we did it as a kind of homage to Susan. Our version starts out nice and mellow, but then the band kicks in and it becomes a Popes-style epic rocker,” Explained singer/songwriter/guitarist Josh Caterer.
The performances are tight. The Smoking Popes have always been known as an incredible live band and this EP supports that. Will it break new ground for the band? Probably not. However, it will bring a smile and nod of the head to fans or even the simply curious.
The EP is available on a limited pressing of vinyl and digitally. For all the vinyl collectors of the world: the album is pressed on 3 colors: 1,400 black, 300 Black with Gold Splatter and 300 Gold with Black splatter.