Personal and the Pizzas - Personal and the Pizzas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Personal and the Pizzas

Personal and the Pizzas (2016)


Pablo Picasso is credited with coining the famous phrase, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Well, Personal and the Pizzas have taken that mandate further than pretty much any other punk band. On their self-titled second album, the band follows in the stead of 2010’s Raw Pie and straight up, unabashedly, rip off the Ramones and the Stooges. Multiple songs on the album are literally instrumentals from Stooges and Ramones with new Pizza and/or Jersey themed lyrics dropped on top and even some of those lyrics are basically the same as the originals.

Yet, because the band is bold and without shame in their theft, the music comes across as a genuine appreciation for the source material, and further, betrays a deeper understanding of that music than other Ramonesy bands that are “influenced” by the four bowl-cut heroes. “Bored out of my brains” uses the archetypical Ramones cadence and teenage wastoid musical setting, but quite cleverly, sets the song to a AM pop radio backing. Indeed, the Ramones were fans of the early 60s AM boppers and by borrowing that source material, P and Ps are able to generate that same hazy wistfulness of Joey that so many bands try (and fail) to capture.

Likewise, “Brain Damage,” which snatches a lot of both the Ashetons and James Williamson, rips along with the raw power of the legendary Stooges. But, while so many stooges influenced bands are influenced by the Stooges, P and the Ps realize that the Stooges weren’t influenced by themselves, obviously. Instead, they were influenced by the likes of Little Richard, the garage rockers, and their own chemical induced states. So, P and the Ps reach back further than most bands would, and they snatch that are R B swing, and in doing so, create a marvelous ripper that sits between Fun House and Raw Power all while using Dee Dee worthy lyrics. Not bad!

It certainly helps that the band is somewhat self-aware and aren’t trying to hide the fact that they jacking source material. So, to avoid being a straight cover the band, the group often twists lyrics into cartoonish directions be down avenues of pizza fandom or perversity. “Joanie” has one of the most hilarious and most pervy lines of the year. Personal begins the refrain with an homage to the Ramones version of “Needles and Pins,” wistfully moaning, “When I see you walking down the street, I just want to get on my knees…” But, of course, he then switches from lovesick teen to town sicko by appending, “… and eat out you, ooh yeah, eat out you-uuu, oh yeah, eat out youuu….” It is messed up and hilarious.

Despite that the boys take such joy in corrupting this material, it’s clear that they’re only able to so deftly shake this up because they are humongous fans. Wisely, instead of falling pray to idol worship, the band both mocks their heroes and compliments them at the same time. If I recall correctly, the Ramones did this throughout their career, (i.e. “Do you Wanna Dance”) as did the Stooges (“i.e. Louie Louie.”)

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but as this record shows, that’s not entirely right. Imitation with a healthy dose self-evisceration is the sincerest form of flattery… and it makes for a damn fine record, too.