The Smoking Popes got a raw deal. Formed in the early 90â€™s in the Chicago burbs, the band drew influence from musicians as varied as Tom Waits and Dinosaur Jr. to crooners like Sinatra and Mel Torme.
When alt rock was in its prime, moving from obscure college radio stations to mainstream rock stations, the Smoking Popes got a little airplay with songs like â€œRubellaâ€ and â€œNeed You Aroundâ€ (thanks to their inclusion on the widely popular Clueless soundtrack), but because of befuddled station programmers that were unsure of how to classify the band, the Smoking Popes had to settle for word-of-mouth publicity. Punk rockers, however, managed to find the band, and groups like Alkaline Trio and Bayside have all cited the Smoking Popes as a strong influence. Thanks to Asian Man records, the Popes earlier works are finally getting attention again.
â€œItâ€™s Been a Long Dayâ€ is a stellar collection of rarities and hard-to-find tracks from the band, all recorded between 1991 and 1998. This collection is culled from various 7 inches and compilations. The songs are a bit rougher than the tracks that appeared on the groupâ€™s Capitol Records releases, but excellent none the less. Listening to a song like â€œWriting a Letterâ€ (a bit faster and with a little more distortion that the version that the band has been playing at shows) is a fantastic example of why these guys deserved to be heard by a wider audience. While â€œItâ€™s Been a Long Dayâ€ may not be the best introduction to the band, it is a must-have for fans of the group.
Rating: 8.7 out of 10
Top tracks: â€œIâ€™m Writing a Letterâ€ and â€œBrand New Hairstyleâ€
Smoking Popes â€“ Itâ€™s Been a Long Day /CD/20 tracks/2010/Asian Man Records