Throughout their eight-year career, Smoking Popes never received their due. A last-chance game of catch-up, the in-concert "Live" includes many of the best songs from "Born to Quit" and "Destination Failure" -- the Popes' fine but overlooked studio CDs on the Capitol label -- plus a helping of tunes from their earlier, indie efforts.
The live versions are close cousins to their studio counterparts, though they flex a bit more muscle. That bluster doesn't obscure the crooning vocals of Josh Caterer (like Morrissey, he could make misery sound sweet), nor the edgy guitar riffs that gave the band its backbone.
Though many of the Popes' standout numbers had a winsome feel, they could also rock convincingly; hear the punky "Not That Kind of Girlfriend" and "Under the Blanket" for proof that this band splintered just as it was hitting full stride.