Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Posies - live in 1987 in Bellingham (first show!) & V/A - Bring Me the Head of Brian McKenna - a Posies Tribute (199?)

Welcome to night one. So I'm going into this one with more than a little bit of trepidation.  By now a lot of you have disavowed The Posies, or at the very least one of the group's core components.  In case you've been living under a rock you can get caught up to speed here. Ultimately, I decided to put these two offerings on the table...but why you might ask?  Well, the simple fact is before the troubling revelations, accusations, and the band's acrimonious and sudden dissolution in 2021, there was a phenomenal body of music to be had.  It's still phenomenal.  Heck, just excise the band's career down to three albums, Dear 23 (1990), Frosting on the Beater (1993) and Amazing Disgrace (1996) and their place in power-pop is cemented right then and there, yet they gave us much more than that, almost all of it good to great. From this point on I'm going to ignore the soap opera, and focus entirely on what I came here to offer, two untainted pieces of music I hope you'll simply be able to appreciate.  

First up is a tape of what I've been informed is the Posies debut performance, all the way back in 1987 in their hometown of Bellingham, WA. I don't have an exact date or venue details to offer, but considering the set consists entirely of covers it's not hard to rationalize this was very early in the band's career when they were functioning exclusively as an acoustic duo.  In fact we don't even get a hint of what they'd offer on their 1988 debut, Failure.  Besides the fact that Stringfellow and Auer were adept players and harmonizers this early in the game they also had commendable taste with the likes of The Jam, R.E.M., Replacements, Squeeze, Billy Bragg and yes, the Beatles all coming under their scrutiny in this 46 minute set. The performances are lucid, slightly cheeky, and by and large faithful to the original arrangements, and the tape sounds as if it was plucked straight from the soundboard - that or an extremely tight audience recording. The only glitch is that the intro to "Mrs. Robinson" is cut off.  This one has likely been in circulation among collectors for a few decades now, but for the brunt of you this is bound to be a delight (to one degree or another).

Just a few months ago the existence of a Posies tribute album (ostensibly a cassette only release) Bring Me the Head of Brian McKenna, was absorbed into my radar. No copywrite was provided, but considering that the format is a tape, and with the inclusion of a cover of "Start a Life" from the band's 1998 LP Success, I'd peg the date of release to be hovering around 1999 or 2000. The album does have a curator, but I''ll let that be revealed in the liner notes for those of you whom opt to download this.  The pressing of this one was likely minimal, as there is no mention of it anywhere online. A few hundred copies (if that) I would guess?  There's nary a household name to be head here, with only the likes of The Pyramidiacs and Walter Clevenger triggering any personal recollection.  

As far as tributes go this one is pretty straightforward.  Nothing leftfield you might say - just primo songs covered with reverence yet sheer passion. For whatever the reason, the Dear 23 chestnut "Any Other Way" has the distinction of being featured here twice, but I'm not complaining. Lots of homegrown, bedroom-tracked vibes on this one.  As for the puzzling title, I can't help but wonder who Brian McKenna is/was. So much so that I did a quick Google query, yielding a match for a recently deceased film director of the same name, who seemingly had zero ties or overlap with the band.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Full tracklists for this and the live gig are below. 

Live in Bellingham 1987
01. Mrs. Robinson
02. I'm Looking Through You
03. Don't Look Away
04. Swingin' Party
05. I've Just Seen a Face
06. Sitting Still
07. That's Entertainment
08. I Can't Reach You
09. English Rose
10. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
11. Separate Beds
12. Greetings to the New Brunette
13. Superman
14. So Sad About Us
15. Strange

MP3  or  FLAC

VABring Me the Head of Brian McKenna - a Posies Tribute
01. Every Damn Day - Help Yourself
02. Walter Clevenger - Paint Me
03. The Pyramidiacs - Open Every Window
04. Khadejah Dein - Coming Right Along
05. Hammerfish - Dream All Day
06. Gino Scarpino - Any Other Way
07. Nerdburgers - What Little Remains
08. Underwater Sunshine - Everyone Moves Away
09. The Superstitions - How She Lied by Living
10. Juji Frootz - Any Other Away
11. WINK? - Earlier Than Expected
12. Little Buddy - Under Easy
13. Ed Taboada - Flavor of the Month
14. The Warm Jets - Start a Life


binman said...

Great start to the holiday season! Thank you, again, for your dedication to sharing great music! Happy Chanukah!

Josef Kloiber said...

Thank you !

LonChes said...

Thanks for this!

SteveO said...

Didn't know either of these existed so many thanks for sharing and all your posts this year.
All the best for Christmas & the New Year.