Our Back Pages
LP release date: June 12, 2021 – Record Store Day
CD / Digital release date: June 18, 2021
Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey’s Our Back Pages LP of new arrangements of songs by The dB’s for Record Store Day, 2021. CD / Digital to follow.
Omnivore Recordings is pleased to announce Our Back Pages, an album of dB’s music re-imagined by the band’s Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. The collection featuring new acoustic versions of some of the duo’s favorite dB’s songs.
Stamey explains “Over the years Peter and I have evolved acoustic versions of a number of our songs from our days together in The dB’s. While working on a duo project in my studio a decade ago we took some time to lay down some of these arrangements which are often quite different from the normal electric presentations. We are both always more concerned with making new music than with looking back so it stayed in the archives. But it seemed like the time was right so we finally completed and mixed it all over the last two weeks just for this. We’d like to offer it now as a small contribution a little bit of light in these dark days.”
Signature dB’s songs including “Black And White,” “Big Brown Eyes,” and “Happenstance” are ably propelled here by lyric and guitar energy alone and the hooks remain—it’s easy to find one’s self singing along. Tunes such as “Dynamite” and “From A Window To A Screen” are revealed as precursors to the music the two made together later as they feature “dual lead” close-harmony vocals as essential elements. Others such as Peter’s “Today Could Be The Day” and “Molly Says” were originally recorded by the band after Stamey’s departure so this marks the first time he’s gone on record with them. When going through the material in preparation for mastering they even discovered a forgotten track “Depth Of Field” and completed it for this release although a version had appeared on a Stamey solo record it fits in here because it was originally written and rehearsed contemporaneously with the rest for The dB’s’ second album Repercussion.
Another song “Picture Sleeve” is both old and new. A song by this title was in the band’s sets circa 1978 but all that anyone could remember years later were the first few lines some chords and the subject matter. Using those elements as a jumping-off point it was rewritten for a Record Store Day single release three decades later and a duo version is part of this release. Peter’s classic ballad “Nothing Is Wrong” a staple of their live duo sets was overlooked during the original sessions and sadly missed. Fortunately it’s included on this new collection in a version The dB’s themselves recorded during a rehearsal in Hoboken, New Jersey in 2006.
“We’re still proud of the electric versions of the songs” Stamey insists “but a sturdy song should be able to handle a bit of reinvention from time to time and it was fun to get under the hood and see what was there even without the charm and power of Will Rigby’s explosive drums and Gene Holder’s nimble bass runs. In most cases it’s a trip back in time to the songs’ origins of being written on acoustic guitars in apartments or hotels then strummed to the others in much the same way these recordings sound now.” Peter adds “These stripped-down versions add a credence to our belief that a truly good song can stand up without a lot of bells and whistles.”
A few special guests joined Holsapple and Stamey on the sessions: John Teer (Chatham County Line) and Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) both contribute violin and Andy Burton (Little Steven, John Mayer, Cyndi Lauper) plays keys on “Nothing Is Wrong” with of course Rigby (drums) and Holder (bass). The mastering by Greg Calbi and Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound is a homecoming of sorts as legendary mastering engineer Calbi had previously mastered the pair’s influential Mavericks outing as well as Falling Off The Sky the last dB’s album. For the most part it’s Peter and Chris around the campfire at Modern Recording in Chapel Hill N.C. grabbing whatever was in the room at the time: a toy piano a ukulele a banjo a harmonium an upright or an old Silvertone bass and of course guitars guitars guitars.
In addition to 1991’s Mavericks (RNA Records) Holsapple and Stamey also paired up for 2009’s hERE & nOW (Bar/None). For more insight into the genesis of some of these songs see A Spy In The House Of Loud: New York Songs And Stories (University of Texas Press) Stamey’s 2018 “songwriting memoir.” Be on the lookout for A Brand-New Shade Of Blue, Chris’s new audio-and-songbook collection.
Today Could Be The Day From Window To A Screen Black And White Dynamite Molly Says Happenstance Big Brown Eyes She’s Not Worried Picture Sleeve Depth Of Field Nothing Is Wrong Darby Hall In Spain