The Meatmen - Pope On A Rope (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Meatmen

Pope On A Rope (1995)

Meat King Records

The history of The Meatmen can be more or less lumped into four eras. The only constant has been the Dutch Hercules, flamboyant front man Tesco Vee. First was the original early-80's Lansing line-up, which produced the classics Crippled Children Suck (1983) and We're The Meatmen...And You Suck!! (1983). Next was the mid-80's line-up after Tesco relocated to the DC area. War Of The Superbikes (1985) and Rock & Roll Juggernaut (1986) came from this period. The mid-90's line-up gave us Toilet Slave (1994), War Of The Superbikes 2 (1996) and Evil In A League With Satan (1996). The 2008 to present era brought us the covers album Cover The Earth (2009) and the return to form that was Savage Sagas (2014).

Tucked into The Meatmen's 90's output was 1995's Pope On A Rope. It's a record that has been criminally overlooked, and contained some of the band's finest (and some of its worst) material. It would be their last full length of original material for 19 years. The sound during that era leaned toward speed metal, with lots of riffs and double bass drum. It hardly resembled the crude, primitive hardcore of the band's humble beginnings. It did have plenty of Tesco Vee's signature, tongue in cheek, not safe for work humor.

Pope On A Rope opened with the rhythmic stomp of "Beefsteak Boogie" before kicking into the excellent title track, a full frontal assault on the church. "I am Satan hear me roar/Hear dark voices too loud to ignore". "I Want Drugs" was pretty self-explanatory and "Alcohol" was a cover of the Gang Green classic. (I once saw Tesco perform it with Gang Green in one of those rare moments of punk geek ecstasy.) "Ball Peen Baby" and "Real Men (Hang To The Right)" were essentially two great songs about Uncle Tesco's penis. "Men, Meat And Fire" was a chanted mantra, while "College Radio Loser" was a humorous look at the state of "alternative" music in 1995.

"Some Like It Cold" was not as well known as TSOL's "Code Blue", but it covered the same subject matter. "Hot Rails To Hell" was a revved up Blue Oyster Cult cover. "Sex Mart 2000" continued a long running gag that stretched over several albums. "The Sicker The Better" and Triple B" have both aged well. The chorus of the latter was the memorable "Big butts/Bad breath/Tuna bush/Is all we need". The 16 track album closes with two of The Meatmen's least memorable songs. "Petrified Whitey" and "Freon Freddy" are not really up to the band's lofty standards. The most readily available version of Pope On A Rope is the 2008 re-issue, also on Meat King. It contained five top-notch bonus tracks, including the songs from their split with Boris The Sprinkler. "Drugs And Masturbation" and "Shut Up And Suck" were politically incorrect in all the right ways. Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" was burned through in record time. The Meatmen's version of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" left you scratching your head. Their take on "Green Acres" left you smiling.

While Pope On A Rope was not the best Meatmen album, it was very good. Their early recordings were more influential, but this album inspired a whole new generation. A handful of these songs still show up in the band's live sets. Everything The Lansing Liberace has done is worth owning. This album definitely deserves a spot in your record collection.