- Joe Kendrick
Even though they have bragging rights, The dB’s will probably not go there. They could, though, because their band accomplished something that very few have done: make great music that sounded like no one before or after them. Sure, there are similarities with their heroes, how could there not be? The Beatles and Big Star were guiding lights for the Winston Salem by way of New York City quartet (whose core songwriters Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple worked with Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Richard Rosebrough along the way), but The dB’s played music that forged a new path. They were New Wave in the sense that they came on the scene at the same time that Elvis Costello, Talking Heads and Blondie were getting started, but their sound was different enough that the moniker did not quite fit. Power Pop? Kinda sorta, but then again not really. Make a Venn diagram of The dB’s and you will find them at the intersection of British Invasion bands, New Wave, Power Pop, and the following wave of Southern pop and rock epitomized by R.E.M. (whom Peter would work with later on). The dB’s were never a household name, but were hugely influential. And they arrived fully formed, having played together and written songs for years before leaving North Carolina. Now, decades later, we get to hear just how good they were from the jump with the release of I Thought You Wanted To Know: 1978 – 1981, a compilation of their early demos, outtakes and live performances.
In this episode Peter Holsapple talks with us about the dB’s new retrospective, how his musical upbringing in the hyper local scene in Winston Salem North Carolina served him well as an adult, his lifelong musical friendships, the seemingly unlikely influence of Mott the Hoople and much more. We feature music from I Thought You Wanted To Know as well, a collection that sounds as fresh and innovative now as it did when it was first put on tape.
Songs heard in this episode:
“I Thought You Wanted To Know” by The dB’s, from I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978–1981
“Soul Kiss” by The dB’s, from I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978–1981, excerpt
“Rock and Roll Queen” by Mott the Hoople, from Mott the Hoople, excerpt
“Nothing Is Wrong” by The dB’s, from I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978–1981, excerpt
“Time Has Come Today” by The dB’s, from I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978–1981
Thanks for visiting, we hope you enjoyed your time with us! Please take a moment and follow the series on the podcast platforms you are using; it will help even more when you give us a top rating and even more so with a good review, because the show’s visibility to everyone using those platforms depends largely on followers, ratings and reviews. Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on WNCW, and to Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it. – Joe Kendrick