Southern Knights

Reissue of two classic early '80s albums spotlights the seminal power-pop magic of the dB's

Rigby's perspective is acute, and in fact a massive, nearly 10,000-word history of the band penned by Rigby can be viewed at the new Web site: Must-reading for any dB's fan, his essay also provides illuminating snapshots from the Amerindie underground of the era. Speaking of snapshots, the site features an impressive scrapbook section (photos, gig posters, etc.) along with a detailed discography, merchandise (dB's boxer shorts, anyone?), unreleased MP3s, video clips and a message board.

"The dB's Online was constructed by Jake Gorst of Exploded View with my input," says Rigby. "It's actually fun to work on, and I'm kind of an online junkie, although it was strange spending so much time thinking about such a distant past. There's a potential cache of unusual items we hope to get our hands on one of these days. New audio files, some live recordings, are our next project. And we're hoping to get a top-quality digital file of Walter Williams' [of Mr. Bill fame] video for Repercussion's 'Amplifier,' too."

Getting back to the two albums for a moment, Rigby remains justifiably proud and has fond memories of the making of them. "Recording Stands for DeciBels was exciting, if not exactly glamorous -- although at one of the mixing sessions at [NYC's] Power Plant, Springsteen was in the other room. I remember him sitting in the lounge once when I walked out!

The dB's: At the forefront of an early '80s East Coast pop and garage-rock renaissance.
The dB's: At the forefront of an early '80s East Coast pop and garage-rock renaissance.

"Repercussion [recorded in England with future R.E.M. producer Scott Litt] sounded better thanks to Scott, who had a lot of ideas. Although I can't help but wonder what that record would sound like with less reverb -- 'The Sound of the '80s!' I guess it still goes on in Top 40, Britney records and the like. But most bands that are any good have wised up."

Everyone loves a rock 'n' roll underdog tale, and to a large degree the party line has always been that the dB's suffered unjustly at the cruel hand of fate. Both Stamey and Holsapple, however, as quoted in the CD's liner notes, appear more circumspect.

Notes Stamey, "Many aspects of the dB's career were very typical of bands. Almost all bands find no financial/commercial success, merited or not. We made several records with reasonable budgets, had several big tours, sold out clubs . . . radio play was the main hole in the picture. I think our share of bad luck was not actually excessive; in a lot of ways, we had a better time of it than most."

"Not every great band has a hit," Holsapple summarizes. "And I consider us lucky in having gone from up-and-coming to also-rans to posthumously wonderful in a comparatively short period of time."

Rigby agrees, adding that while "our weakness was the business side -- we were right in there with all those [other bands] that made mistakes and had setbacks -- we did persevere through it for quite a while, and it wasn't all bleak. I remember a lot of good times."

Of course, no dB's feature would be complete without one inevitable query.

"It's hard to imagine that [a reunion] could be the same," says Rigby. "We were twentysomethings then and we're fortysomethings now. Getting everyone in one place would be the hardest part -- we live in four states. But it has been discussed from time to time. There's always a chance, I suppose."

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