In the late '80s, '88 to be exact, a pair of singer/songwriters, Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow began recording their songs in Auer's Bellingham home. From this humble beginning they landed on Seattle's Pop Llama label, adding bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger. The Posies debut was the ironically titled "Failure."
The group moved to Geffen and made their major label debut with "Dear 23" in '90. Shortly thereafter, the Seattle scene exploded and Grunge was the rage. But the Posies' power pop didn't fit the mold. That probably held them back but didn't deter the group. With a new bassist, Dave Fox, and producer Don Fleming, the Posies issued "Frosting On The Beater" (cute titled), in '93, containing one of their best known songs, "Dream All Day," which became a huge college radio hit.
Instead of building momentum, Auer and Stringfellow began a lengthy relationship with Alex Chilton's Big Star, touring as part of the band.
Three years passed and another rhythm section arrived; bassist Joe Howard (aka Joe Bass or Joe Skyward) and drummer Brian Young, for "Amazing Disgrace." While the critics loved the harder edged '96 release, Geffen didn't get behind it.
No promo dollars resulted in disappointing sales (a cause and effect here). Geffen then dropped the band. A few side projects were undertaken before the Posies returned to Pop Llama for '98's "Success,"a play on the group's debut with the label a decade earlier. After that, Stringfellow went on to tour as an R.E.M. backing musician while Auer traveled the solo route.
In '00 Geffen, seeing a chance to land in the black on the Posies account, released a couple repackages, "Dream All Day," a "Best Of" collection, and "At Least, At Last," a four-disc box set of outtakes.
Auer and Stringfellow reunited for some acoustic EPs under the Posies banner before undertaking a full-on reunion in '05 with "Every Kind Of Light" on the Rykodisc label.
Sadly, Howard died in '16 following a two year battle with cancer.
1990 Dear 23
1993 Frosting On The Beater
1996 Amazing Disgrace
2005 Every Kind Of Light
With some groups you might wonder, why weren't they bigger? That's where the Posies fall.
Playing power-pop in the Grunge capital of the world was an uphill battle but ultimately it was their label's lack of confidence that wounded them beyond repair. So it goes.
Hearing "Failure" it's easy to see why Geffen swooped down and signed the Posies. "Dear 23" sounds like an updated take on '60s Folk-pop with lots of strumming and a blend of acoustic and electric guitars. The set opens with the jaunty and appealing "Big Mouth" and is followed by their classic "Golden Blunders." Though "Dear 23" is an admirable major label debut, "Frosting On The Beater" is far better. Aside from the brilliant "Dream All Day," the album contains another Posies' gem, "Flavor Of The Month." They should have been able to ride this album for the better part of the decade. "Amazing Disgrace" is nearly as good and worth picking up even if it didn't live up to sales expectations.
The group's return to Pop Llama begins with "Success." This too is a good collection with "Somehow Everything," "Looking Lost" and the lean "Start A Life" ("it's harder than you think").
Auer and Stringfellow's acoustic efforts are engaging but they sound like placeholders for the next major Posies' effort. '05's "Every Kind of Light" is solid journeyman work featuring "It's Great To Be Here Again" and "All In A Day's Work." Good as it is, they've done better.
"Dream All Day: Best Of The Posies" has all their '90s stellar material and very little filler.