This talented quartet from North Carolina moved to Manhattan and began gigging around the city to almost universal praise. Unfortunately, they were unable to attract the interest of any American record companies and so off they went to England to sell their debut album, Stands For DeciBels (January 1981).
The LP immediately charted overseas and drew even more unabashed commendations – “the unchallenged pop album of the season” . . . “the most important debut since Elvis Costello” . . . – yet still no deal in the States.
The dB’s two principals – Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple – made for a fascinating interplay. Both were wounded romantics, but Holsapple played an extroverted McCartney to Stamey’s feisty, more unconventional Lennon.
Their succinct, artfully-crafted songs were laced with disarming touches – stereo panning, filtered vocals, tricky time signatures – all of which harked back to their early days as fledgeling rockers playing “loud psychedelia” in such lamentably-named high school bands as Captain Speed and the Electric Fungi Mothers.
Their second album, Repercussion (1982), contained a dozen Stamey/Holsapple songs that wound their way to the far reaches of the pop spectrum and back again.
Songs such as Living A Lie and Ups and Downs teased with all sorts of ear-grabbing cleverness and then hooked you for keeps with a sweetly stinging chorus.
Stamey left the group before the third album, Like This (1984) with Rick Wagner joining on bass and Gene Holder moved to guitar.
Their final album, The Sound of Music (1987), featured bass player Jeff Beninato.
Holder then left the band and Eric Peterson was recruited on guitar before The dB’s called it a day.
The original lineup reunited briefly in 2005 and 2007. The band reconvened in 2012 with their first new album in 25 years, Falling Off The Sky.