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The Poppees

While they were never as visionary or influential as Big Star, New York City's the Poppees shared that iconic band's love of Beatlesque pop in the classic style at a time when embracing the Fab Four's early work was as unfashionable as you could get, and they lasted just long enough to provide a link from the first stirrings of the power pop movement to the dawn of New York's New Wave scene. The Poppees timeline begins in 1972, when guitarist Bobby Dee Waxman met bassist Paddy Lorenzo; discovering they shared a fondness for British Invasion pop tunes, they decided to form a band, and joined forces with drummer Donny Jackrel and guitarist Burnie Murray. After months of playing bars as a cover band, Waxman and Lorenzo became more ambitious and started writing their own material; Murray left the group, new guitarist Arthur Alexander (no relation to the great R&B singer and songwriter) was recruited in through an ad in the Village Voice, and in 1973, the first lineup of the Poppees was born. The Poppees honed their craft with steady gigs at a bar in Queens called the Cozy Corner, where they could rehearse in the off-hours and try out new originals in exchange for providing free entertainment. The Poppees recorded a demo that attracted the attention of Greg Shaw, founder of the legendary fanzine Bomp!; Shaw loved the Poppees' hooky tunes and retro style, and signed the band to his newly founded record label. By the time Shaw was ready to take the Poppees into the studio, Donny Jackrel had parted ways with the group, and on their debut single, "If She Cries" b/w "Love of the Loved," Waxman handled the drums as well as guitar and harmonica. After the single arrived in shops, the Poppees found a new drummer named Jet Harris (aka Arthur Harris) and began hitting New York's club scene with a vengeance; at venues like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, a new breed of New York rock & roll was making itself heard, and bands that played short, energetic original songs were no longer out of place. In 1975, the Poppees released a second single on Bomp!, "Jealousy" b/w "She's Got It," produced by fellow British Invasion maven Cyril Jordan of the Flamin' Groovies, and their live shows found the group embracing a more stripped-down and aggressive approach that complemented the first wave of punk without abandoning their pop instincts. However, as the Poppees' style began to evolve, creative differences drove a wedge between the musicians, and in 1976 the band called it a day. Waxman and Lorenzo went on to form the Boyfriends, who earned a powerful cult following and released a single on Bomp!, while Alexander and Harris were members of Sorrows, who cut two fine albums for Epic Records. In 2010, Bomp! released the album Pop Goes the Anthology, which collected the Poppees' singles along with unreleased demos and live material.
© Mark Deming /TiVo


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