From a Window to a Screen - The dB's, Stamey, Chris
Amplifier - The dB's, Holsapple
Ask for Jill - The dB's, Stamey, Chris
I Feel Good (Today) - The dB's, Stamey
Storm Warning - The dB's, Always, Billy
Ups and Downs - The dB's, Stamey
In Spain - The dB's, Stamey
Nothing Is Wrong - The dB's, Holsapple
Neverland - The dB's, Ciani, Suzanne
Soul Kiss [*] - The dB's, Stamey
Powered by two great songwriters in Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, 'Stands For Decibels' and 'Repercussion' veered from psychedelia to new wave but never left the hooks behind, resulting in two albums that any seriou... more »s collection of '80s alternative rock can't be without. This Collectors' Choice Music release features the bonus tracks, 'Judy' & 'Soul Kiss'.« less
Powered by two great songwriters in Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, 'Stands For Decibels' and 'Repercussion' veered from psychedelia to new wave but never left the hooks behind, resulting in two albums that any serious collection of '80s alternative rock can't be without. This Collectors' Choice Music release features the bonus tracks, 'Judy' & 'Soul Kiss'.
"The 2nd album has been one of my favorites since it was released in the early 80s. Great quirky pop music. The two primary songwriters are Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple. They tend to compliment each other in a Lennon/McCartney or Difford/Tillbrook sort of way.If you like this, there are other CDs by the dB's and later work by Holsapple and Stamey that you should check out:1. Like This - dB's after Stamey left - hard to find on CD. While I miss Stamey, this still pretty good.2. Sound of Music - again, post-Stamey and again, hard to find on CD. I like it a little better than Like This - there is a little more richness in the songwrtiing.3. Ride the Wild Tom Tom - full band, this is their earliest material. There are some throwaways, but most of it is very solid - great Stamey/Holsapple tunes you can't find elsewhere.4. Fireworks and It's Alright - two post-dB's Stamey solo albums. I prefer the first one, which is a little more introspective, but both are excellent.5. Sneakers - Racket - very hard to find, this is a pre-Wild Tom Tom CD with Stamey and Mitch Easter. Sounds like ... the dB's and Let's Active ... very cool. Includes an early dB's song or two. Similar in feel to the Tom Tom CD.6. Mavericks - post-dB's reunion of Stamey and Holsapple. A little less poppy than the dB's, but great stuff.All this stuff is out-of-print, but you can find it over time on ebay, Gemm or your local used record store. Great band - enjoy!"
Insanely Catchy, Quirky Music
Scott McFarland | Manassas, VA United States | 02/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd heard great things about these records in my younger days, but never actually had the scratch to buy them until a week ago. I remembered their existence due to a name-check by The Loud Family, another great underrated band.The dB's were a tight rock group that based themselves around the songwriting talents of Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple.Holsapple's songs were somewhat "straighter" and in something of a classic rock vein. They sometimes featured catchy choruses, ringing guitars, and subtle bridges that make all the difference. They were frequently about troubled romantic relationships, and tended to lend themselves to loud singing. He was on a path not dissimilar to Elvis Costello, albeit with lyrics that actually said something clearly. Best examples - "Black and White", "Big Brown Eyes", "We Were Happy There". Meanwhile, Stamey revelled in quirkiness, in a way not dissimilar to early David Byrne. His vocals sometimes sound like those of a snotty kid turned loose in a studio. He veers his songs towards sonic adventurism - seemingly aspiring towards a Beach Boys/Sgt. Peppers vibe, with twists in it. His songs are hit-or-miss, but when they hit they're quite a power-pop rush. Best examples - "Happenstance", "Tearjerkin'", "Espionage".Artistically, these two LPs seem to be the band's peak. The two writers complemented each other, in terms of the songs they brought in as well as their vocal harmonies, and the band played very sharply (the rhythm section was very active). Stamey left after these two LPs; the other three continued the band and had mild success playing Holsapple's songs, their peak being 1984's "Like This". I highly recommend this disk."
Winston-Salem Is Smokin'
Roger Duprat | Cleveland | 11/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the below review by leeleedee. The dB's were marvelous in the studio and lousy live. Holsapple did sweat too much for a power-popper; the essence of the music is no sweat. Be that as it may, this ranks almost up there with the twofer of Big Star's "#1 Record" and "Radio City" as essential power-pop. The dB's were more abrasive and experimental than the Memphis group, and Holsapple and Stamey didn't sing as well as Chilton and Bell (although Chris Bell could sound a little shrill at times). The first LP gets the nod as truly essential, but "Repercussion," suffering as it does from a slightly fussy approach, is still a very solid record. Again, the essence of this music is a certain mannerism, so it's a question of how mannered you want to get, right? These two records originally appeared around '81 on the Albion label and have been reissued in various configurations since. In the '80s, the dB's put out a "six-pack" of singles featuring "Judy," "Soul Kiss," "pH Factor" and "Baby Talk," as well as a slightly different version of "Cycles Per Second." All good stuff. "Like This," the third dB's record, isn't bad but it's more standard-issue American power-pop, and Holsapple's voice doesn't match his songwriting. The B-side of "Love is for Lovers," "Darby Hall," is one of their best songs ever and as far as I know is unavailable on CD. Too bad. In my opinion, the dB's, Big Star and Marshall Crenshaw are the ultimate in power-pop; the Raspberries, the Flamin' Groovies, the Shoes, the Records, 20/20, Artful Dodger and the Scruffs all did nice stuff and any aficionado of the style probably owns some of their work. But in varying degrees their work, fine as it is, lacks both the meaningful idiosyncrasy of "Radio City" and "Stands for Decibels" and the warmth of Crenshaw's "Field Day.""
It Crawled From the South
Owen | Seattle, WA | 09/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's strange how we associate some music with certain moments/periods in our lives, but it's true. For me, the dB's are there in just about every memory of college in Fairbanks, AK. That's where I was introduced to their music in a conversation with a girl I was head over heels for, but too shy to say. She was telling me about this song called "Amplifier", and how if I could find it, I had to play it on my next show at the college radio station (later she would introduce me to The Jam and the Smithereens' "Behind the Wall of Sleep"). As if by design, the next week I found a bargain bin tape of the dB's "Like This" (which featured a remake of the song)at the student union. I was immediatly smitten with the rich vocal harmonies, snappy lyrics that were goofy and heartfelt at the same time, and THE tightest rythm section I'd yet to hear. Of course, when I played it for her, she revealed there was another record they did that had the same song and was even better! My search began, leading to later records like "The Sound of Music" (and it's blue-collar anthem, "Workin' For Somebody Else" which quicly became a staple of my radio show) and the Chris Stamey LP, "It's Alright" (which is worth having just for "Cara Lee", as another reviewer so rightly put it). Finally, on a spring break trip to Wasilla (a little town an hour north of Anchorage, but 5 hours from Fairbanks), I found it. Holsapple and Stamey had just released "Mavericks". I picked up the tape so we could listen in the car, and again, by merest of circumstances, there was "Repercussions" on CD. from the Big Star-meets-Wall of Sound production on "Living a Lie", the one-two punch of "We Were Happy There" and "Happenstance", with its roller coaster of spare then busy arrangement; then the jaw dropper: "From a Window to a Screen". If it's possible, everything in this song sounds like it's in the background, or coming from another room. Again, the whole record is amazing, but I keep coming back to that first half. And as luck would have it, I was able to find "Stands for Decibels" on my next trip down to Wasilla, at the same record store, no less. What struck me was how quirky compared to "Repercussions" this one seemed at first. Opening with the hyperactive kiss-off, "Black & White" and the keyboard-heavy funk workout ala "96 tears" of "Dynamite" (with the weirdest vocal harmony of the band's recorded output). Then Stamey catches me off guard again in "She's Not Worried", the dream child of Boyce & Hart and the Beach Boys. The next few songs ("the Fight" through "Cycles per Second") return to the long-lost "college rock" sound of the 80's that so many bands from the south perfected like Pylon, Guadalcanal Diary and of course, IRS-era R.E.M. Finally, Holsapple and Stamey earn all those comparisons to Chilton/Bell, Lennon/McCartney, etc. with "Big Brown Eyes" and "Moving in Your Sleep". Believe me, at first, many of these songs will seem to be going in two different directions sometimes and as others have said, Stamey can come across too clever for his own good. But hear them out all the way through, and you just may find little touches and harmonies striking you by surprise when you least expect it. For the last 12 years, the dB's have been the one band I try to get all my friends into and they've been an influence on my own songwriting as well as leading me to other great bands like the Posies and Big Star. Sadly, their music is incredibly hard to find (even more so now than when I began my quest in 1991), and if you're a fan of guitar pop, great songwriter teams, quirky new wave-meets-British invasion college rock, you really REALLY owe it to yourself to check the dB's out. I'm glad I did, and thank you Angie, wherever you are."
Two essential albums
Philip P. Obbard | Brooklyn, NY | 01/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered the dB's thanks to the namecheck in TMBG's "Twisting" c. 1990, and I acquired both of these albums (now nicely combined on a single CD) a few years later. The early TMBG records borrowed much of the dB's sound; check out "Ask for Jill" to see what I mean. On the other hand, TMBG never came close (or even tried) to match the songwriting prowess of Holsapple and Stamey, or their rarely paralleled ability to mask a sophisticated (if often lyrically downbeat) song under an upbeat pop soundtrack. The dB's went on (sans Stamey) to produce two more excellent records after these two, and Holsapple and Stamey even reunited in the early 1990s for a an LP released under their own names, but you should start here. (This CD reissue adds the fantastic non-LP a-side "Judy" and the slightly more disposable b-side "Soul Kiss" as bonuses)."