Joe Pop-O-Pie was there when punk went from being stupid (perhaps a particularly American turn) to being self-reflexively stupid, a time when, for example, a band chose the name "Flipper" because it was the only name one of it's members could remember. (Sure it was a lie, but that doesn't make it unstupid.) His claim to deserving fame was based on having a band that constantly changed members and only played one song, a cover of the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'". It wasn't punk exactly, but the distorted guitar was there to suggest same, and in any event it sure wasn't hippie shit.
The cover is all that 8 of the 12 people who remember the band ever knew about them. But not finding fame in the shtick (though they did get to meet Jerry Garcia, apparently a fan but then why not?), Mr. Pop-O-Pie went on to, well, bitch and bitch about it. New York sucked and so did prefab bands like Duran Duran, and he was there to whine about it. He couldn't sing, and the guitars of Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle) and Mark Bowen (Faith No More) were all that carried the band. Still, Joe deserved to be a rock star because, well, he wanted to be, and in the years after the punk explosion it seemed to work for everyone else, dammit. But even a version of "I Am the Walrus" (in which our hero rewrote lyrics he couldn't remember, and then forgot those) didn't make him the GenX Tuli Kupferberg, which wasn't that high a bar to begin with.
But as this anthology shows, Joe had a little something going on after all. He kvetched over ironically generic rock before King Missile left the silo and was a scenesta hata when Frank Black was still practicing "Smoke on the Water" riffs in his bedroom. His adenoidal angst is hard to take for 18 tracks and 60 minutes, but that should go without saying. This was California in the early '80s, before punk bands had to be good, or at least be able to imitate The Clash (or 999 in any event), and back when it was at least a little difficult to make a record.
Which doesn't mean you should care. It just means Joe Pop-O-Pie did. And his postfamous anthology is even a real, silver-backed cd. Maybe he's a rock star after all.
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