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Episode 24:  Ken Stringfellow

Ken Stringfellow -- Photo by White Light Photography

Recently, I had the good fortune of landing same-day, back-to-back interviews with Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer.  I took the opportunity to ask them each about their contributions as songwriting partners in The Posies, and to chat with them about some of their solo recordings. We also discussed their 17-year collaboration as one half of the reformed Big Star, along with founding members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens. To get the full picture on Stringfellow and Auer, you should definitely check out both interviews.  Each Artist Sampler features different songs.

We caught up with the industrious Ken Stringfellow just as he was about to embark on a series of remote solo performances in Rwanda and Spain.

In this intriguing interview, I ask Ken about the origins and the ongoing saga of The Posies, plus the backstories for his four solo albums, along with the legacy of the reformed band, Big Star and much more.

To reach Ken about studio recording or remote producing and mixing, or just to see what he's up to next, visit his Guest Website link, below.

Photo: White Light Photography

Ominvore Recordings has reissued the first four albums by The Posies in deluxe editions.  Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow combed through their personal recording archives to help make Omnivore's the most thorough and best-sounding versions available.  While you're there, you can pick up two albums by the reformed Big Star.  Highly recommended.

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  Album Artist Producer Song
Failure

(1988)

The Posies Jon Auer,
Ken Stringfellow
Ironing Tuesdays

Compliment?

Dear 23

(1990)

The Posies John Leckie,
The Posies
Apology

Any Other Way

Frosting on the Beater

(1993)

The Posies Don Fleming Solar Sister
Ken used the word "melismatic" to describe one of the catchiest elements of this song.  Here's the definition from Free Dictionary dot com: "Melismatic refers to a style of singing first started in 900 AD and culminating in the Boroque era in which a single syllable of text is sung carried through many notes."

Love Letter Boxes

Earlier Than Expected

Amazing Disgrace

(1996)

The Posies Nick Launay,
Steve Fisk
Ontario

Please Return It

This Sounds Like Goodbye

(1997)

Ken Stringfellow Ken
Stringfellow
Aware that The Posies albums were being perceived as more heavily prepared, carefully produced and polished, Ken set out to make his first solo album the opposite of that.  By design, each track is an improvisation, with no fine-tuning, no punching in, and no manipulating the sound afterward.  The idea was to record each instrument and vocal in a single, first take.

Here's to the Future

Bi

Success

(1998)

The Posies The Posies,
Johnny Sangster,
Conrad Uno
You're the Beautiful One

Fall Apart With Me

Friendship of the Future

Farewell Typewriter

Touched

(2001)

Ken Stringfellow Mitch
Easter
Find Yourself Alone

Here's to the Future
Having already recorded this song on his first album with very specific parameters, Ken decided to re-cut the song for his second album using more conventional production.

Private Sides

(2003)

Jon Auer,
Ken Stringfellow
Jon Auer,
Ken
Stringfellow
Beautiful
Soft Commands

(2004)

Ken
Stringfellow
Ken
Stringfellow
When U Find Someone

You Become the Dawn

Every Kind of Light

(2005)

The Posies Ineptunes I Guess You're Right

Love Comes

Sweethearts of Rodeo Drive

In Space

(2005)

Big Star Big Star,
Jeff Powell
Turn My Back On the Sun
Blood/Candy

(2010)

The Posies The Posies Take Care of Yourself

She's Coming Down Again!

Danzig in the Moonlight

(2012)

Ken
Stringfellow
Ken
Stringfellow
Pray

Drop Your Pride

Solid States

(2016)

The Posies Jon Auer,
Ken
Stringfellow
We R Power!

Squirrel vs. Snake

Sideways
(Single)

(2020)

The Posies The Posies Sideways
Reveal

(2001)

R.E.M. Patrick
McCarthy,
R.E.M.
I asked Ken to choose a few songs that exemplify his years as a support musician on tour and in the studio for the band R.E.M.

Saturn Return
Ken plays the Sonic Youth-styled guitar collage at the song's opening

Imitation of Life
The bright, whistling keyboard solo is played by Ken

The Record: A Country Concept Album

(2015)

Holly & Ken Ken
Stringfellow
Here's an audio description of this album by Ken Stringfellow, extracted from our interview.  Also heard on the album are the voices of Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, and Vicki Peterson of the Bangles.

(Title / Artist / Album)

OPENING MEDLEY
Any Other Way / The Posies / Dear 23
Find Yourself Alone / Ken Stringfellow / Touched
Solar Sister / The Posies / Frosting on the Beater
You Become the Dawn / Ken Stringfellow / Soft Commands
Pray / Ken Stringfellow / Danzig in the Moonlight

Ironing Tuesdays / The Posies / Failure
Compliment? / The Posies / Failure

Apology / The Posies / Dear 23

Solar Sister / The Posies / Frosting on the Beater

Ontario / The Posies / Amazing Disgrace
Please Return It / The Posies / Amazing Disgrace

Here's to the Future / Ken Stringfellow / This Sounds Like Goodbye

Farewell Typewriter / The Posies / Success

Find Yourself Alone / Ken Stringfellow / Touched

When U Find Someone / Ken Stringfellow / Soft Commands

Drop Your Pride / Ken Stringfellow / Danzig in the Moonlight

We Are Power! / The Posies / Solid States

Here's to the Future / Ken Stringfellow / Touched

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