Seattle’s princes of pop, The Posies, have reached a level of international respect and acclaim that most artists only dream about. That an enormous number of people — probably you, Dear Reader — don’t know who these guys are after all these years is the collective “my bad” attributable to the fickle nature of a music buying public, a trend-mongering music industry, possible misguided marketing and the luck of the draw. I mean, these guys were signed to a major label at one point and have even formed the core of the reformed Big Star in the 1990s.
Wait. What’s that? You don’t know what or who Big Star was?
Maybe I’d better slow down a bit and provide some more general examples of why you might want to check out the music of The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of The Beatles, The Monkees, The Zombies, The Move and the Hollies, you might like The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of The Raspberries, Big Star, Badfinger and Chris Wilson-era Flamin’ Groovies, you might like The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, 20/20, and The Undertones, you might like The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of The Bongos, The Feelies, early REM, XTC and Jellyfish, you might like The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of The Polyphonic Spree, the more polished side of Guided By Voices and the poppier side of The Flaming Lips, you might like The Posies.
If you are of a certain age and like the music of The Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand and The Hives, you might like The Posies.
Hopefully you recognize at least a couple of those bands listed above and have achieved a mental picture of what some of this music might be like.
I’m talking Continuum here folks (yup, with a capital C!).
Much like the generations of folk / Americana artists passing along musical traditions to subsequent generations, all of these purveyors of the perfect pure pop song are part of a similarly grand community. And they keep going despite the diminishing returns facing them because — and, face it, this music is not exactly the flavor of the day today — it needs to be done. Melodic pop music will live on and there are those of us who are true believers in this fact, writing new songs in the genre, bucking trends and hoping for a miracle or at least a little bit of applause from the audience.
I wrote and recorded a song about that very concept (“Miracle Song,” recorded with my old band “ing”), looking at how we keep on writing these songs, hoping for that magic moment and maybe just maybe that chance that someone might listen and maybe it will mean something to someone.
Well, some people did listen to The Posies back in the day and their fans are pretty loyal to this day.
The Posies debut album, Failure, really charms you with each subsequent listen. This new reissue expands the original 12-song track listing with a bunch of cool bonus material including tracks from the very much out-of-print box set (At Least At Last, from 2000), demos, live tracks and other rarities. So there is something for everyone. Longtime fans will want it for the improved sound. Hardcore fans will want to get the new vinyl pressing (initial pressings on spiffy green colored vinyl with a download card included for the entire CD program) which was cut by acclaimed LP mastering engineer Kevin Gray (note: I have not heard the vinyl yet but one would assume/hope it will sound good).
Speaking of the sound, well, this remaster is heads, hands and feet above the original CD, with a greater sense of dynamics, punchy propulsive bass and full-bodied drum sounds. Comparing tracks like the brilliant rocker “I May Hate You Sometimes” is like a night and day experience. Suddenly the strummy acoustic guitars are jumping out of the mix in a very big way. The cowbell that drives this car would make Ringo Starr proud.
And then there are the bonus tracks which are all really interesting and fun, including a demo of “I May Hate You Sometimes” which really showcases the Beatle-worthy harmonies these guys can pull off. There is also a great live acoustic version of “Believe in Something Other (Than Yourself).”
Anyhow, I think you get the idea now that this is a really nice reissue and a great reason for everyone who might have missed the Posies to explore them anew. And, for those who forgot about this indie pop gem, it is high time you revisit it.
File Under: Pure Pop For Posie People…
Mark Smotroff became a fan of The Posies after purchasing a CD put out by a Texas radio station called The Adventure Club Sessions, which contains a still spectacular version of their song “Will You Ever Ease Your Mind” which sounds like a lost outtake from the Jeff Lynne-era of The Move (the band that morphed into The Electric Light Orchestra). A freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. www.smotroff.com Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, BigPictureBigSound.com, Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com. He is also a musician / composer whose songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. www.ingdom.com Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he’s written: www.dialthemusical.com.