It’s the last day of the decade and what a better way to end the year than talking about one of my favorite albums from one of my all time favorite bands.
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to select a Posies album to discuss. Heck, one of my very first articles on this blog was about my love for this band so you would think that this would be an easy thing but no. You see, to me, this band has had so many incredible albums, just picking one seemed an affront to the ones that were not picked. Here we are though, and I think my choice is a pretty good representation of who the Posies were, are and will be in the future. Now, this isn’t claiming this is their best album, or the finest work either Jon Auer or Ken Stringfellow has ever done, no, this is just an album that stands out to me. So without further delay, this is Success.
Why This Album?
I distinctly remember picking this album up at our local record store the week it was released. I had been a fan of the band for sometime by then and I had been special ordering each of their albums as soon as I had the money to buy them. I had become such a regular in the place that one of the clerks, lets call her Jenny, placed the order for this album for me without me even asking. I remember going to the store that day after my shift and Jenny being excited to see me, stating that ‘she had something for me’. She quickly ushered me to the service desk and placed a green album in my hands, the words The Posies Success written on the cover. I was shocked, I knew an album was coming out but, living in a small town with little access to the web, I really didn’t know when. Paying for the album, I thanked Jenny for her kindness and left the store elated. (On hindsight I think I missed some signs with Jenny but, then again, young men need to be hit on the head when someone like them. Girls, take note, men are idiots when it comes to picking up signs of affection, no matter how obvious it is.)
That evening I popped the disc into my CD player and laid back on my cot. I didn’t have a bed at the time, still living at my parents house, and chose to use an old canvas army cot as my bed, to conserve space and money. Propping my head on the pillow I let the songs of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow lead me into a happy place.
From the beginning I could tell this was something special. Something unique. That evening, I composed a letter to the band thanking them for their terrific album ( I had written to them twice before with successful responses). With that completed I settled in and listened to the album again. That is when it hit me, Every track seemed to be specially selected for the album in a way that felt as if they were saying goodbye by leaving something perfect behind as a farewell. Throughout the album I began to pick up hints in the songs that seemed to confirm this thought. Songs like Fall Apart with Me, Who to Blame, Start A Life, Friendship of the Future and Farewell Typewriter, all seemed to have a common theme, finality and change. Dismissing the idea, I just enjoyed the album, hoping I was wrong.
To my dismay, my final letter came back as un-deliverable. It seemed the Posies had either moved or, they simply had ended. Determined to figure out what had happened, the next time I went to practice with my band (I sang in a band at the time, hey, we all had rock n roll dreams at that age!) I took a moment to look The Posies up on my Drummers home computer. Immediately I noticed that Ken had a solo album I had missed entitled This Sounds Like Goodbye. Then in dawned on me. ‘Success’. It was a simple but obvious bookend to their first album ‘Failure’ and I had overlooked that clear sign. It seemed that my fears had been confirmed. My favorite band had broken up and, for a time, there would be no more music from the duo.
The album itself is a work of art. Much like Abbey Road, it almost feels as if the band knew that this would be their ‘final‘ project together so they wanted to go out on the highest note they could, boy were they successful. Although it seems to be one of the most overlooked albums in their discography, In many ways you can say that this is a perfect album, with every track balanced and every song just right.
Covering topics of finding one’s self, declarations of love, saying farewell, starting a new beginning and more, this album has a theme song for just about everyone. It is Jon and Ken at their most vulnerable and it shows in every song giving each lyric and each note even that much more meaning.
Every Bitter Drop: At it’s base it is a song about alcoholism and the damage that is done in and around those who are affected. It is about how, only the person who is the alcoholic can defeat it, no matter how many scapegoats they conjure up. This one has a personal meaning to me having grown up around an alcoholic as a kid. The lyrics, ‘If you had the chance, would you realize that every bitter drop is clouding up your eyes’ is some powerful stuff for sure.
Fall Apart With Me: I always felt that this was someone begging a lover to meet in the middle and let their collapse join them again as random parts on the floor. Instead of falling apart, they could fall apart together making them closer than ever. I love the concept of unity through failure making that failure a Success in the end.
Start A Life: This one struck me hard as it would only be a short time after this albums release that I ventured out on my own. The lyrics of this one lined up so closely to my personal experiences that is was truly frightening. Trying to start a life is indeed harder than you think.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Needless to say, the Posies have since returned in full force, producing not one but Three additional albums, an EP, and a number of fantastic solo albums and side bands. It seems that, even with Success, they had more to say and boy they are really something spectacular still. I am happy to have seen them live four times already in recent years and it was well worth the wait. You can grab a copy of this one here for around $17 and Luckily you can listen to it on Spotify as well. Either way, grab a copy, it’s really great stuff.
You should also check out the band at Theposies.net. Go see them live if you get a chance. You won’t regret it.
Late to the Game 12/31/2019
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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