Pick Five: The Posies

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Jun 112018

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

the posies covers

Beloved power-pop stalwarts The Posies turn 30 this year, and are celebrating with an ambitious round of reissues of their first three major-label albums: 1990’s Dear 23 (out this Friday), 1993’s Frosting on the Beater (out August 3), and 1996’s Amazing Disgrace (out October 28). All feature new remasters from the original tapes and unheard bonus tracks. While we wait, relive the original version of one of their biggest hits, “Dream All Day.”

The band is currently on a lengthy 30th anniversary tour (upcoming dates at the bottom, and also here), but founding members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer took some downtime in the van to tell us about their favorite cover songs. As will not surprise anyone who’s heard their music, they really like Elvis Costello! Also not surprising: These two guys know their stuff, digging deep into the crates of soul, college-rock, and beyond.

And now, join Ken and Jon as they lead you on a guided tour through their cover-song collections…

Ken Stringfellow’s Favorite Covers

Elvis Costello – God Only Knows (The Beach Boys cover)

Ken says: “I love the drama in Elvis’ voice, the fact he turns the song into a waltz. It’s a brilliant reimagining of the song. This was an obscure b-side for some time – thank you internetz!!!”

Isaac Hayes – Something (The Beatles cover)

Ken says: “This is just insane. A production tour de force. Time-stretching George Harrison’s barely three-minute original into a nearly 12-minute mind-blowing freak fest. Yes, there are truncated nine-minute-plus versions released, but skip directly to the full Monty – it’s worth it! I love the jazz violin; it’s such an unexpected touch.”

The Dells – Love Is Blue (Paul Muriat cover)

Ken says: “Paul Mauriat’s pleasant … er, super depressing theme for unhappy Stepford wives everywhere was the biggest song of 1968… yup… there were more steadily-drinking-themselves-into-oblivion-bored-housewives locked out of and watching the hippie free love hairy armpit freak fest from the sidelines than you could ever imagine and this was their theme muzak. Meanwhile, the Dells managed to burn off the passivity of the original composition and distill it down to the most important part: Pain. And Passion. In their hands it becomes a dazzling blue flame of disillusionment and telling us just how fucked it is. Um… these were black Americans in 1969. They knew. The rainbow is gone.”

Johnny Hallyday – Hey Joe (The Leaves cover)

Ken says: “We all know Jimi Hendrix’s first gig outside of the UK was opening for France’s biggest rock icon, right? So, who nipped this from who? I am not a fan of all of Johnny’s work, but he hits all the right moves on this one.”

R.E.M. – Superman (The Clique cover)

Ken says: “R.E.M. meant so much to me at this time that the arrival of Lifes (sic) Rich Pageant to the 17-year-old me was akin to what the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back was to the 10-year-old me. It (partially) completed a picture of a mysterious & exciting & exotic world that I so would rather have been living in, as opposed to the dreary Northwest small town that was my current reality (in both cases). Pageant was the first (mildly) user-friendly R.E.M. album and ‘Superman’ was part of a short-lived R.E.M. LP tradition of including a cover culled from, I reckon, Peter Buck’s former cool-guy-behind-record-store-counter life. You could tell this album was banged out between tours by a band that was in the prime of its youth and power; we didn’t have any reason to believe that ‘our’ band would become the World’s Biggest five years later…and if I knew I’d be joining them a dozen years later, my brain would have oozed out of my ears on the spot.”

Jon Auer’s Favorite Covers

The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (Seals and Croft cover)

Jon says: “There’s some undeniably incredible slow jam fuzz represented here; killer guitar and vocals to boot. I’m a huge fan of the original Seals and Croft version, but this takes it to another level and direction.”

Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine (Hope Foye cover)

Jon says: “I mean…duh. It’s hard to go wrong with a gift like Jeff possessed. In terms of male voices, I’m hard-pressed to think of one more sonorous sounding than his. As Bill Murray’s character Carl says in Caddyshack: ‘Striking.'”

Elvis Costello – Good Year for the Roses (George Jones cover)

Jon says: “A superlative interpretation of this country classic, I feel like Elvis truly makes it his own.”

Jon Auer – Gold Star for Robot Boy (Guided By Voices cover)

Jon says: “Sorry, I had to sneak this one in here (smile). Radically different than the Guided By Voices version, my take is partly a reinvention, not just a cover.”

The Nerves – Hanging on the Telephone (“Blondie cover…”)

Jon says: “I’m playing a little trick here as everybody seems to know Blondie’s great version, so much so that nine times out of ten when I play the original for friends they think it’s a cover anyway. [Editor’s Note: Anyone who read our April feature on the song would know better!] Between the two, I’d have to say The Nerves for the win. Listen to vocalist/guitarist/composer Jack Lee snarl his way on through…awesome.”

Preorder all three Posies remasters at Pledgemusic. See their upcoming tour dates below, and buy tickets here.

The Posies’ 30th Anniversary Tour Dates:
Mon, June 11 ANNAPOLIS, MD Ram’s Head On Stage
Wed, June 13 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Thurs, June 14 FAIRFIELD, CT Stage One at Fairfield Theatre
Fri, June 15 SOMERVILLE, MA ONCE Somerville
Sat, June 16 WASHINGTON, DC The Hamilton
Sun, June 17 NEW YORK, NY The Bowery Ballroom
Tues, June 19 PITTSBURGH, PA Club Cafe
Wed, June 20 CLEVELAND, OH Music Box Supper Club
Thurs, June 21 KALAMAZOO, MI Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
Fri, June 22 DETROIT, MI The Magic Bag
Sat, June 23 CHICAGO, IL Park West
Sun, June 24 MADISON, WI High Noon Saloon
Mon, June 25 DES MOINES, IA Vaudeville Mews
Tues, June 26 ST. PAUL, MN Turf Club
Thurs, June 28 MILWAUKEE, WI Summerfest
Sat, June 30 DENVER, CO Levitt Pavilion
Sun, July 1 SALT LAKE CITY, UT The State Room
Fri, July 6 BELLINGHAM, WA Wild Buffalo
Sat, July 7 SEATTLE, WA Neptune Theatre

Fri, Aug. 31 VLIELAND, NETHERLANDS Into the Great Wide Open Festival (sold out)
Sat, Sept. 1 HOOGWOUD, NETHERLANDS Zomerpop Festival
Sat, Sept. 29 BARCELONA, SPAIN Upload
Sun, Sept. 30 ZARAGOZA, SPAIN La Lata de Bombillas
Mon, Oct. 1 CORDOBA, SPAIN Hangar Cordoba
Tues, Oct. 2 CADIZ SPAIN Aulario de la Bomba,
Wed, Oct. 3 GRANADA, SPAIN Lemon Rock
Thurs, Oct. 4 VALENCIA, SPAIN 16 Toneladas
Fri, Oct. 5 MADRID, SPAIN Sala Caracol
Sat, Oct. 6 PONTEVEDRA, SPAIN Teatro Principal (matinee)
Sat, Oct. 6 GALICIA, SPAIN TBA (evening)
Sun, Oct. 7 AZPEITIA, SPAIN San Augustin Kulturgunea
Tues, Oct. 9 PARIS, FRANCE La Maroquinerie
Fri, Oct. 12 HEERLEN, NETHERLANDS Poppodium Nieuwe Nor
Sat, Oct. 13 ALKMAAR, NETHERLANDS Podium Victorie
Sun, Oct. 14 HENGELO, NETHERLANDS Metropol
Wed, Oct. 17 KORTRIJK, BELGIUM Wilde Westen
Thurs, Oct. 18 MECHELEN, BELGIUM Cultuurcentrum Mechelen
Fri, Oct. 19 LONDON, UK The Garage
Sat, Oct. 20 LEEDS, UK Brudenell Social Club
Sun, Oct. 21 GLASGOW, UK King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Tues, Oct. 23 MANCHESTER, UK The Deaf Institute
Thurs, Oct. 25 BREMEN, GERMANY Tower
Fri, Oct. 26 HAMBURG, GERMANY Häkken
Sat, Oct. 27 BERLIN, GERMANY Berghain Kantine
Mon, Oct. 29 HELSINKI, FINLAND Savoy Theatre
Wed, Oct. 31 LARVIK, NORWAY Sanden Kafe at Kulturhuset Bølgen
Thurs, Nov. 1 STAVANGER, NORWAY Folken
Fri, Nov. 2 BERGEN, NORWAY Madam Felle
Sat, Nov. 3 TRONDHEIM, NORWAY Teaterhuset Avant Garden
Sun, Nov. 4 OSLO, NORWAY John Dee
Tues, Nov. 6 GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN Pustervik
Wed, Nov. 7 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN Fasching
Thurs, Nov. 8 MALMÖ, SWEDEN Inkonst

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