In his liner notes to this collection, Poppees guitarist Arthur Alexander (no relation to the great R&B singer) mentions he joined the band after answering an ad in the Village Voice that read in part, "Must be into the Beatles." Well, do tell -- if ever there was a group "into the Beatles," it was the Poppees, who seemingly absorbed every scrap of influence from the Fab Four's early period to the point that they could even play a convincing version of "Love of the Loved," a Lennon/McCartney tune the Mop Tops gave away to their friend Cilla Black. The Poppees released two singles for Bomp Records during their 1973-1976 lifespan (one produced by Cyril Jordan of the Flamin' Groovies), and Pop Goes the Anthology features the four tunes from those 45s, along with one unreleased studio outtake and 13 demos and live recordings. Over the course of these 18 tracks, the band's single-minded obsession with the Beatles is inarguably impressive -- they practically transform their cover of "Since I Fell for You" into "This Boy," "If She Cries" suggests what would have happened if "She Loves You" had been written in a minor key, and "Jealousy" condenses the bulk of the Please Please Me album into a mere two minutes. The Poppees were very good at this stuff -- the original songs were wildly derivative but the hooks and melodies are genuinely tasty, and the band was tight and skillful with fine harmonies. But most of the time, Pop Goes the Anthology sounds like the Rutles without the punch lines, and 12 songs, in you may start to wonder why you're not listening to With the Beatles or A Hard Day's Night instead. Three tracks from a 1976 show at CBGB's find the Poppees kicking up a lot more dust and revealing a harder edge as punk began making a noise in New York. They suggest the band was starting to develop a personality of their own near the end of their run, which is a bit of a shame -- most of Pop Goes the Anthology is the work of a group with talent and potential but not much identity, and if they'd been willing to follow a path of their own a bit earlier, who knows what they might have accomplished.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming