Ken Stringfellow – Touched

Somewhere in a fairer world, or maybe more competent one, the name of Ken Stringfellow would be written in golden letters in some so called “R’n’R Hall of fame”, but as things are now, even after three major label albums with The Posies (and three indie label ones too), he’s JUST an underground pop icon.

What’s fascinating in the reconstruction of Ken’s contribution to the moderndaze music is the fact that, even if you neglect his own discography, there’s always his role of one of the most important men in the machinery of the Big Star/Chilton pfenomenon revitalisation without which the biggest part of today’s guitar pop production would be hard to imagine. As a culmination and the natural consequence, the end of the nineties saw the Posies acting as Alex’s backing band under the name of Big Star.

Countless side projects between Posies albums were followed by Ken’s first solo album and the second one, Touched, is what represents him as an author on his creative peak, cleverly avoiding the known pop-pattern traps and still successfully inserting his work into the meaning of the “all the good songs sound famliar” phrase. The visionary role of the man who knew that the best is yet to come, like many times before, was taken by Alan McGee, adding this timeless classic to the frighteningly effective Poptones releases list.

What opens the album is the perfect country-pop fusion of the pilot single Down Like Me followed by the great combination of the “strawberry” and church Hammond arrangement in This One’s For You opening the doors of the Apple Corps.

Behind that same door is also the place for Uniforms with the string section, chamber sounds and some discreet wilsonian percussions behind the Macca-like melody painted with Clarke-Hicks-Nash harmonies that made the basis of the first two Posies releases and also fitting perfectly into the mid-’60s atmosphere of Sparrow.

Even though it’s pretty hard to select the favourites, these could easily be Find Yourself Alone and Reveal Love, the two songs left by Stringfellow’s “unfinished” Saltine project from 1999, because they sound like the most persistent ones in refusing to be cassified and wearing their “heavenly pop hit” tags at the same time.

The second half of the album, possibly inspired by mentioned Big Star and their No.1 concept, is made of a couple of slower songs with some of them completely contenting the criteria of potential clasics like The Lover’s Hymn or Here’s To The Future.

After an almost fifteen year long career, behind the name of Ken Strinfellow, there are a couple of releases without which pop music would’ve never been what it is today. It’s up to the global media to admit it and Alan McGee is certanly the man with the reputation strong enough to bring this to the surface.

[Released by Poptones 2001]

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