Posts Tagged ‘Peter Holsapple’

New Wave and power-pop greats The dB’s are releasing a double album of early demos, titled “I Thought You Wanted to Know”, that will be out October 15th via newly launched Propeller Sound Recordings. “What we have here are home and field recordings of the dB’s,” says the band’s Peter Holsapple. “Most of these tracks predate the release of “Stands for deciBels” by two to three years, and were the basis of the signing of the band to Albion Records UK in 1980.”

Many of The dB’s early classics are here in rawer form, with a few of them seeing the light for the first time ever; it’s also the first time most of them have ever been made available on vinyl. You can listen to the “NY Rocker Sessions” demo of “Bad Reputation” (which ended up on their 1981 debut) 

dB’s member Chris Stamey just reissued The Robust Beauty of Improper Linear Models in Decision Making Vol 1 & 2 and is part of the upcoming live tribute to Big Star in NYC.

23 Tracks of Remastered Early Singles, Demos, and Live Recordings with insert or booklet.

“What we have here are home and field recordings of The dB’s. Most of these tracks predate the release of “Stands For Decibels” by two to three years and were the basis of the signing of the band to Albion Records (UK) in 1980. Some songs are being released to the public for the first time in this package. Now, almost thirty years after a number of these tracks first saw the light of day on Rhino Records, we find ourselves in the position of releasing the earliest of these selections from our archives to a whole new audience. It’s the first time most have been on vinyl. The live recordings were found after months of Chris sifting through a trove of ancient cassettes, and we are glad to be able to include these key songs from those early years.”
Peter Holsapple, The dB’s – Durham, NC – 2021

Bad Reputation (New York Rocker Sessions) · The dB’s Bad Reputation Holsapple Music / Lovolar Music BMI, admin. by Concord Music Publishing Released on: 2021-08-17

Really sad, heartbreaking news to report. Bobby Sutcliff of The Windbreakers has passed away tonight as Tim Lee posted. This breaks my heart. Not only was Bobby an amazing guy, but The Windbreakers (and his solo recordings) were cornerstones to my musical library. RIP Bobby – we love you and will never forget you!

The dB's - I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978-1981

What we have here are home and field recordings of The dB’s. Most of these tracks predate the release of Stands For deciBels by two to three years and were the basis of the signing of the band to Albion Records (UK) in 1980. Some songs are being released to the public for the first time in this package. Now, almost thirty years after a number of these tracks first saw the light of day on Rhino Records, we find ourselves in the position of releasing the earliest of these selections from our archives to a whole new audience. It’s the first time most have been on vinyl. The live recordings were found after months of Chris sifting through a trove of ancient cassettes, and we are glad to be able to include these key songs from those early years. – Peter Holsapple, The dB’s – Durham, NC – 2021.

In the halcyon days of New York punk club CBGBs, there was a pinball machine located in the furthest corner away from the stage. In his memoir Spy In The House Of Loud: New York Songs And StoriesdB’s co-leader Chris Stamey remembers being drawn to that part of the room on the (frequent) occasions when the band on stage wasn’t quite as thrilling as legend would have you believe.

He wrote: “When a skilled player like Dee Dee Ramone nudged it just the right way, making all the lights go off at once, I would see that old pinball machine as a metaphor for what great rock records should do: trigger some kind of instant deep-brain response, bypassing the critical facilities, beyond analysis. Just neurons flashing all over the place…
We wanted to shove the machinery. To make the lights flash off and on.”

In their initial burst of creativity, The dB’s managed to do that spectacularly well, two indie singles and a pair of UK-released 1981 LPs – “Stands For deciBels” and “Repercussion” – representing a dizzying synthesis of Television, fellow Southerners Big Star and their British Invasion heroes The Move. However, beyond the most fanatical outposts of the worldwide record shop archipelago, the guitar-and-vocals duo of Stamey and Peter Holsapple, bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby never gained much purchase, their lasting influence confined to fingerprints faintly discernible on the next generation of jangly US underground bands – REMThe Replacements, et al.

This new collection of low-budget recordings and rediscovered live material (parts of which were previously available on 1993’s Ride The Wild Tom-Tom set) captures The dB’s’ sketchy formative years, with their first low-budget A-sides – 1978’s (I Thought) You Wanted To Know, recorded with wayward Television guitarist Richard Lloyd, and the 1980 version of Holsapple’s breakneck Black And White steered by future REM co-producer Don Dixon – receiving their first official reissue. It captures a fleeting moment when The dB’s should have become power-pop contenders, and highlights the cubist twists and baroque underpinning that would condemn them to become one of the archetypal cult bands.

While they made their name in New York, all four dB’s came from Winston-Salem, South Carolina, where they had been playing in bands since the turn of the 1970s. Still teenagers, Stamey and Holsapple played alongside future Let’s Active kingpin Mitch Easter on a $1,000-valued home-released LP as Rittenhouse Square in 1972. An impatient jumble of The KinksYes and Mountain, it’s not a record Holsapple plans to reissue. “It’s considered a collector’s item by people who have obviously never heard it,” he tells Uncut with a sigh. “Save yourself several hundred dollars and listen to it on YouTube.” Informed by TelevisionThe Flamin’ Groovies and the (very local) success of Alex Chilton’s Big StarStamey and Rigby then came together to form Sneakers, who put out a quirky 1976 EP on Stamey’s own Carnivorous label (later renamed Car, and perhaps most famous for releasing Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos – the only solo record the ill-starred Big Star man put out in his lifetime).

All those years of gigging on the margins ensured that, by the time they started to rematerialise in New York in 1977, The dB’s had a command of musical dynamics that few of their DIY contemporaries could match. Their live version of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows on this new collection is a case in point, the foursome taking perverse delight in delivering a perfectly hand-whittled take of a song that owed its existence to tape manipulation and studio trickery.

Such old-school skills helped Stamey link up with Lloyd, who went uncredited on the glorious (I Thought) You Wanted To Know – recorded with StameyHolder and Rigby – because he was still under contract with Elektra. However, The dB’s were not quite a functioning outfit until Holsapple arrived – fresh from an unhappy spell in Memphis. Taking courage from the taut sound of Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ This Year’s Model, the four-piece dB’s came on like a Ramones-paced ? And The Mysterians with occasional Van Der Graaf Generator time signatures.

(I Thought) You Wanted To Know shows that they cannibalised the odd song from members’ past lives (The Sneakers’ Let’s Live For The Day, and Death Garage”– the B-side of a solo Holsapple single, Big Black Truck, released on Car in 1978), but generally started afresh. Adopted by Alan Betrock, founder of New York Rocker, they recorded on four-track after hours in the magazine’s offices, but despite an abundance of killer choruses, never had much faith that the straight record industry would give them their due.

Stamey’s sardonic My Sire Wristwatch – never recorded in a studio but salvaged from a live tape – mocks a ‘new wave’ promotional item supposedly given away at a time when Seymour Stein’s label were trying to scrub the word “punk” from the musical lexicon, pointedly quoting their “new wave” slogan: “You better get behind it before it gets past you.”

However, their disdain for the dumbed-down music business conformity was married to a profound faith in what pop music could do. The dB’s were unashamed of their pre-revolutionary influences, performing loving covers of The Chambers Brothers’ Time Has Come Today and a Byrds-y take on Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages here, but they arguably had better songs of their own. The rough early versions of Holsapple’s Bad Reputation and the Sister Lovers-style Nothing Is Wrong are glorious, while Stamey’s mastery of lopsided writing is underscored by the fact that he had enough A-material to abandon Everytime Anytime and Tell Me Two Times before The dB’s got to record a proper album.

With Betrock as nominal producer, The dB’s started recording Stands For deciBels in 1980, but were unable to find the funds to finish it off, management company-turned-UK label Albion ultimately picking the band up and making a quixotic attempt to break them in Britain. The label resorted to spectacular gimmicks to try and draw attention to Stands For deciBels (cassette copies came in a ludicrous tin can) and Repercussion (each copy came with a cassette sellotaped to the front), but good reviews never translated into sales.

Stamey quit, leaving Holsapple to lead the band through two further albums (Like This and The Sound Of Music) before he became better known as the unofficial fifth member of REM on Green and Out Of Time. The dB’s continue to kind of exist; the original lineup made Falling Off The Sky in 2012, while Goin’ To The Club from this record comes with a new Stamey vocal, and he says he would have prodded his bandmates into re-recording a few more of the tracks here were it not for the pandemic.

However, if that would have been interesting, the joy of the eavesdropped recordings on (I Thought) You Wanted To Know comes in the unvarnished edges. Listen carefully and you can hear the shape of the back rooms and half-empty venues where The dB’s spun gold. Both Holsapple and Stamey have mixed feelings about their singing on these recordings, but if the high harmonies on this version of Dynamite and the glorious What’s The Matter With Me? are not perfect, they encapsulate The dB’s’ delight in creating this spectacular music for the pure joy of it; all those flippers flapping, bumpers bumping, everything flashing at once.

The dB’s“I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978-1981” 23 Tracks of Remastered Early Singles, Demos, and Live Recordings

R.E.M. Poster

On January 26th, 1989, R.E.M. kicked off the Green World Tour at MZA Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Unsurprisingly, the set list skewed heavily toward the band’s latest album, 1988’s Green: The Athens, Georgia, band opened the show with “Pop Song 89,” and performed eight of the album’s 11 tracks overall omitting only “The Wrong Child,” “Hairshirt” and “Orange Crush.”
The rest of the setlist leaned heavily on 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant (“I Believe,” “Begin The Begin,” “Cuyahoga,” “Just a Touch”) and 1987’s Document (“Finest Worksong,” “Exhuming McCarthy,” “Welcome To The Occupation,” “Disturbance At The Heron House”), with a scattering of older tunes—notably, 1984’s “Pretty Persuasion”—thrown in for good measure.

As the Green tour progressed and traveled to New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., U.K. and Europe throughout 1989, the shows followed a similar template, with tunes from 1982’s Chronic Town EP (“Wolves, Lower,” “1,000,000”) being particularly welcome chestnuts. There were other surprises scattered throughout, of course. Vocalist Michael Stipe occasionally prefaced “World Leader Pretend” with some lines from Gang of Four‘s “We Live As We Dream Alone,” while prior to “I Believe,” he recited lyrics from Syd Straw’s “Future 40’s (String Of Pearls)” or the band’s own rarity “Tired Of Singing Trouble.”
In fact, covers were a staple of the tour: Hugo Largo’s “Harpers,” Velvet Underground’s “After Hours,” George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” Television’s “See No Evil” and Syd Barrett’s “Dark Globe” rotated in and out of the setlist. So did the Golden Palominos’ “Boy (Go),” on which Stipe contributed lead vocals. Perhaps the most well-known re-do, however—likely because it ended up on the band’s 1989 fan club holiday singlewas a rip-roaring take on Mission of Burma’s “Academy Fight Song.”

Image result for R.e.m the green world tourR.E.M. Green World Tour ORG 1989 Concert Program STIPE

The Green tour marked many firsts for the band. For example, the trek featured auxiliary musician Peter Holsapple (late of the dB’s) adding guitar and keyboards, marking the first time R.E.M. expanded beyond a four-piece onstage. Although the band played a mix of U.S. auditoriums, college venues and arenas on 1987’s Work Tour, it stuck to the latter for Green tour, and played larger spaces overseas as well. This was partly due to popularity—Green was the band’s first major label album, recorded for Warner Bros.—and partly out of necessity.
The tour featured the group’s first forays into major video productions on stage, and these took the form of song-appropriate clips (e.g., trees and nature for “Fall On Me”), emphasis projections (words such as “HELLO” and “GOVERNMENT” flashing during “Pop Song 89″) and deliberately detached “participation” banter moments. According to the R.E.M. Timeline, at a March 1, 1989, show in Louisville, Stipe read these three rules aloud: “No. 1: Don’t stand on your seat as you may fall. No. 2 Don’t hurtle missiles or throw things. No 3. Don’t rush the stage as Peter doesn’t like that.”

Their first show of several in the year 1989 The Green Tour (Audio Only with photo accompaniment) At this point Green had just hit Gold (over 500,000 copies sold) two months after release, and it would go on to sell over 5 million copies as of 2015. Audio isnt great Quality 5/10 (the audio comes in through the right channel only during Get Up)

Not a spectactular show, and certainly lacking the spectacle of some of their later performances on the Green tour, but it’s still a decent concert. Also, only (mostly) complete R.E.M. show in Japan .

REM live Pop Song 89 Tourfilm 1989

Stage-wise, Stipe did some of the shimmies he exhibited during the videos for “Pop Song 89″ and “Stand” during those songs, and sported a white suit, which drew comparisons to the boxier, large suit David Byrne sported during Talking Heads‘ Stop Making Sense. The attire was camera-ready: In 1990, R.E.M. released the Green tour-focused concert film “Tourfilm” which was filmed over five shows near the end of the tour—and the black-and-white footage of the performances was striking.


On November 13th, 1989—the day after the Green tour officially concluded  R.E.M. performed all of Green and 1983’s Murmur albums back to back, during a benefit show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. It would be the last time to catch R.E.M. for a while: The Green tour was the group’s last major, extended batch of concerts until 1995’s Monster tour. R.E.M. had spent much of the ’80s on the road, and the band needed an extended break. “We were physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally spent,” Stipe told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. “I thought I would never tour again. The idea to stop touring wasn’t any strategy. It was survival.”

R.E.M. playing live at The Omni in Atlanta, GA on April 1st, 1989.