Friday, December 27

The dB's - New Year's Eve 1986, Raleigh, NC

The Brewery
Raleigh, NC
Dec. 31, 1986 into the wee hours of Jan. 1, 1987
audience recording (sound quality VG+; a well-balanced, solid-sounding recording).
Gene models the kind of hat all well-dressed  
New Year’s Eve revelers should wear
(a sideways Like This LP jacket!)
01 Any Old Thing
02 She Got Soul
03 Auld Lang Syne -- Never Say When
04 Rains Around Here
05 Lonely Is as Lonely Does
06 Not Cool
07 Never Before and Never Again
08 A Better Place
09 Today Could Be the Day
10 White Train
11 I Lie (end cut, fades out)
12 New Gun In Town
13 Change With the Changing Times
14 Amplifier
15 Love Is for Lovers
16 Witchi-Tai-To (Jim Pepper cover; Will sings lead)*
17 A Spy In the House of Love
18 Why Don't We Do It In the Road?
*16 is a traditional Native American peyote chant set to music (leave it to Will to find something that cool & include it in a dB’s show...)

TT: 78:25

ROB SEZ: A fired-up dB’s play a rowdy New Year’s Eve show — a perfect way to ring in any New Year. During the show, Peter announces (for the first time in public?) that I.R.S. Records has signed The dB’s and that a new album will be recorded and released in 1987. BIG THANKS to TG for recording the show and RIDICULOUS THANKS to dB’s Fan for the share.

These photos were taken at a show in Boston at The Rat in the mid-1980s. But it probably looked a lot like this on New Year's Eve in 1986 at The Brewery in Raleigh.

The dB's:
Peter Holsapple: guitar, vocals
Gene Holder: lead guitar
Will Rigby: drums, backing vocals
Jeff Beninato: bass, backing vocals

Friday, December 20

Los Lobos & friends - Holiday House Party 1992 (FM)

Capitol Recording Studios 
Hollywood, CA 
Oct. 1992 (broadcast Dec. 25, 1992) 
DJ-banter-removed version
* DJ introduction omitted * 
02 Peace
03 Arizona Skies>
04 Borinquen Patria Mia
05 Canto Veracruz
06 Mario from the Bario (Lalo Guerrero)
07 Pancho Claus (Lalo Guerrero)
08 Beat Angel (Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke 
      & John Leftwich)
09 Running Up the Stairs (Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke 
      & John Leftwich)
10 The Christmas Song
11 One Time, One Night
12 Buffalo River Home (John Hiatt)
13 Drive South (John Hiatt)
14 Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
      (John Hiatt & Los Lobos)

01 Colas
02 El Zapateado
03 La Iguana>
04 La Guacamaya
05 Instrumental Medley:
      (Leo Kottke) 
     Available Space>
     June Bug>
     Vaseline Machine Gun>
     Jack Fig
06 I'll Be Home for Christmas
      (Dave Alvin & Rick Solem)
07 Dry River (Dave Alvin & Syd Straw)
08 Golden Dream (Syd Straw 
      & Dave Alvin)
09 O Holy Night (Syd Straw 
      & Rickie Lee Jones)
10 The Christmas Twist
      (Syd Straw & Los Lobos)
11 La Pistola y El Corazon
Find more Los Lobos cheer HERE
12 Kiko & the Lavender Moon
13 What's Goin' On?
ROB SEZ: How about a musical house party for your holiday festivities? Or even if you don't HAVE any festivities to host or attend, this would be a fine substitute. For years, I've been looking for a good excuse to post some Los Lobos music, and now I've got one. Please enjoy — and have an excellent holiday!

Friday, December 13

The dB's - Peppermint Lounge, NYC 1981

The dB's
Peppermint Lounge 
New York, N.Y.
Oct. 11, 1981
audience recording (sound quality VG)
Note: This show marked the US release of Repercussion 
Video capture from a different dB's show at Peppermint Lounge, NYC
01  I Thought (You Wanted to Know)
02  Bad Reputation
03  Dynamite
04  Soul Kiss
05  Judy
06  I Feel Good (Today)
07  pH Balance
08  Tomorrow Never Knows
09  Ups and Downs
10  The Fight
11  Excitement
12  We Were Happy There
13  Happenstance
14  Black and White
15  Whipping Post > Neverland
16  Part 3, final jam session
ROB SEZ: To the original share, I've added track 16, which came from a separate recording. Since the jam includes Peter H — and is from the same night, venue & show — I've included it for the sake of history. HUGE THANKS to the taper and uploader.
The dB’s:
Chris Stamey – guitar & vocals
Peter Holsapple – guitar, keyboard & vocals
Gene Holder – bass
Will Rigby – drums
Peppermint Lounge, NYC — way back when
Uploader’s note: The Individuals opened. The Raybeats followed The dB's and played a very short 3-song set. The grand finale was, believe it or not, a jam session, with Peter joined onstage by various members of the Bush Tetras, Au Pairs, and Malaria. Included is Part 3 of the jam (first two parts are lost).

Friday, December 6

Balderdash, Ltd. (Mitch Easter) - Charlotte, N.C. 2019

The Evening Muse 
Charlotte, N.C.
March 1, 2019

audience recording (sound quality: VG++; another excellent Batchain recording)

Balderdash, Ltd. is Mitch Easter's new band

Mitch (right) and Balderdash, Ltd. - last month at Mitch's N.C. Music Hall of Fame induction

01 You / Me

02 Rogues*
03 Ode to a Tin Angel (Hearts & Flowers cover)
04 Rock & Roll Love Letter (Bay City Rollers cover) 
05 Hello Susie (The Move cover)
06 Sudden Crown Drop
07 Get Free+
08 Ton of Bricks
09 Psyched-Out (The Ventures cover)
10 Waters Part
*Rogues is a song Mitch demoed in the early 1990s, but never officially released
+Get Free is a song Mitch wrote that ended up on the Shalini album We Want Jelly Donuts (rel. 2000)
ROB SEZ: Thanks to Batchain (aka Larry T.), we can celebrate Mitch's recent induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in style. At the induction ceremony last month, Mitch and his band, Balderdash Ltd., played a live set at the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, N.C. Like Gravel Truck and other Mitch-led band efforts, Balderdash, Ltd. functions as a vehicle to play music from several eras of Mitch's history: Let's Active, solo material, and the obscure-but-choice covers he relishes.

Mitch & Balderdash, Ltd. - Atlanta, GA 2018
(photo by John Boydston; this & other photos from the show included in download)

Here's a video Batchain shot at the Charlotte show

Friday, November 29

CBGB dB's - Jan. 1982

The dB’s
New York, NY
Jan. 16, 1982

audience recording (sound quality range: VG to VG+; the usual crowd noise is evident since it’s a club show, but it’s more fun than distracting)

Pretty clever what the artwork creator did with the letters on the awning...

ROB SEZ: Two different recordings of this show have circulated in the past, but I am persuaded this is the superior-sounding version. I have re-tracked it and done some subtle eq work to bring out the best of this recording from a first-generation tape. Sincere thanks go to the original taper, dclubok for the original share, and edA for the re-up.

Early set:
artwork included in DL, of course
1.  Black and White
2.  Living a Lie
3.  Ups and Downs
4.  I Feel Good (Today)
5.  Amplifier
6.  Soul Kiss
7.  pH Factor
8.  Ask for Jill
9.  We Were Happy There
10. Bad Reputation
11. Happenstance
12. Neverland
13. banter / Black Sabbath tease
14. If and When
15. Tighten Up
16. Molly Says

TT: 50 mins. 46 secs. (Set 1)

Late set:
1.  (I Thought) You Wanted 
Although CBGB is no more, the famous awning
is now on display at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame
      to Know
2.  The Fight
3.  Big Brown Eyes
4.  Purple Hose
5.  She Might Call
6.  Judy
7.  Storm Warning
8.  Hey Baby
       (Alex Chilton cover)*
9.  The Summer Sun
10. Living a Lie
11. In Spain
12. Excitement

13. Everlasting Love
14. Get Down Tonight (Will Rigby vocal)
15. Let’s Live for Today

*see explanatory note about this song at THIS blog post

TT: 54 mins. 21 secs. (Set 2)


The dB’s:
Chris Stamey – guitar & vocals
Peter Holsapple – guitar, organ & vocals
Gene Holder – bass
Will Rigby – drums

Friday, November 15

The dB's - 'Stands for deciBels' REVISITED

The dB’s 
Stands for deciBels REVISITED 
the debut album in alternate mixes & live versions

sound quality: variable, but none less than VG
Cover of The dB's iconic debut; still amazing after 30 years.
Stephanie Chernikowski photo; Victoria DeVeraux tinting

01 Black and White (alt. mix)  
02 Dynamite (live) 
03 She's Not Worried (live) 
04 The Fight (live) 
05 Espionage (live) 
06 Tearjerkin' (alt. mix) 
07 Cycles Per Second (live) 
08 Bad Reputation (alt. mix) 
09 Big Brown Eyes (live) 
10 I'm In Love (alt. mix) 
11 Moving In Your Sleep (alt. mix) 
12 [blank – 10 secs. of nada]
13 Judy (live)*
*Judy did not appear on the album as originally issued. It was first released on the “Judy” 7-inch single, and later added as a bonus track to some versions of “Stands for deciBels.”

1, 6, 8, 10, 11 – from Stands for deciBels rough/alt. mixes production cassette
2 – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC 1981-10-24
3, 5 – Philosopher’s Club, Winston-Salem, NC 1979-12-28
4 – The Ritz, NYC 1982-02-22
7, 9 – The Ritz, NYC 1981-06-12
13 – Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ 1982-02-26

front & back cover art included in the download
The dB’s:
Chris Stamey – guitar & vocals
Peter Holsapple – guitar & vocals
Gene Holder – bass
Will Rigby – drums
ROB SEZ: I had a great time putting this one together. The main inspiration is a special share from lilpanda (thanks, man). It's a collection of tracks tagged “Pre-Signing Demos”. However, after listening to them many times over, I came to realize they sounded a lot like the finished masters for Stands for deciBels, but with interesting differences. Certain instrumental passages I was hearing in these versions aren’t on the masters, or have sounds that are much less prominent in the final mixes.*

I decided the collection was probably from a work-in-progress production cassette, created as the debut was being recorded. It’s not uncommon for artists and producers to create collections of rough mixes before final mixing and mastering. I’m guessing this passed from a friend to a friend, etc., until it was eventually shared with other fans. Some versions in the collection sound so much like the masters that I chose not to include them here. (One, a great demo of “Dynamite,” was released later on Ride the Wild Tom Tom -- so go listen to it there). For the live versions, I tried to pick tracks that married good sound quality with a great and/or aurally interesting performance. The live tracks are effective reminders how amazing Will and Gene are as The dB's rhythm section. They are the group's secret weapon and unsung heroes...
Stands for deciBels was released in January 1981 
— almost 40 years ago!
*Geeky observations about the alternate studio mixes, 
for fellow obsessives:

1. BLACK AND WHITE - You can hear the difference right off the bat in the extra reverb on the vocals and the prominence of the electronic (?) hand claps from the opening notes. In the master, however, the hand claps fade in & out, alternating with an additional double-time percussion part, like a fast-ticking watch. In the master, the acoustic guitar track is much more prominent in the mix (I'm not sure it's there at all in the alt. mix). There are other differences you can find, in this & the other alt. mixes. For example, there's a tambourine part beginning in the alt. mix version at 2:38 that lasts about 15 seconds. It's not in the master mix, which instead has Will thrashing away on the cymbals in the same part of the song.

6. TEARJERKIN' - The difference between this alt. version & the master lies in which instruments are emphasized in which mix. One example: the main keyboard part is less prominent in this one than on the master, where the keyboard's edgy tone is put in the foreground. You can also hear it in the bridge starting at the 3:00 mark: in the master, there are added sound effects missing from this version.

8.  BAD REPUTATION - Like some other alt. mixes in the "Pre-Signing Demos" collection, this one's differences present themselves after repeated A-B comparisons to the master version. Some differences lie in the mix, which has less reverb overall in the master version. The rhythm guitar part is much more prominent in the master as well. Other distinctions are more immediate, such as the guitar solo at 2:18. There's one in the same spot on the master, but a different take is used instead of the solo featured here. 

10. I'M IN LOVE - The biggest difference between this alt. mix and the master can be heard in the bass lines. In this version, it's a standard electric bass sound throughout the track (albeit played with Gene's incredible technique). In the master, however, the familiar bass sound is rarely heard. Instead, a rhythmic bass part played on (what sounds like) a keyboard is heard on most of the track. Also, a squealing electric guitar line is heard in the background at several points in this version, but very little on the master.

11. MOVING IN YOUR SLEEP - This one has very subtle and hard-to-detect differences. You can hear them mainly in the bass parts (some later sections were re-done for the master) and the mix (the acoustic guitar is far more prominent in the master than in this alt. mix). Almost didn't use this one, but then I realized The dB's never seemed to have played this song live (at least before 1988) — so here ya go!

Critics have noted Stands for deciBels stood the test of time, and today is considered a classic. One of the big reasons for its well-deserved reputation can be found in these alt. versions: at nearly every point when additional parts or sounds were considered for the debut album, the band and their collaborators chose the more classical path, shunning trendy "New Wave" techniques and effects.

Friday, November 8

Let's Active - Chicago 1986

Cabaret Metro
Chicago, IL
July 2, 1986
audience recording (sound quality VG++; transfer from first-generation tape source; virtually no bothersome crowd noise; this one sounds so good, I almost rated it Ex-)
This band photo was an hommage to a John Mayall album cover

ROB SEZ: At first, I didn’t consider this show for the blog because it’s one of the more common ones. Silly me. After actually listening to it, I can hear it’s one of the best shows around, combining a great performance and very good sound. Massive thanks to to the taper and to john52il for sharing.

Summer 1986 - a good time
to catch Let's  Active in concert
01 Intro
02 Waters Part
03 Leader of Men
04 Talking to Myself
05 Writing the Book of Last Pages
06 Prey
07 Flags for Everything
08 Fell
09 Won't Go Wrong
10 Reflecting Pool
11 In Little Ways
12 Every Word Means No
13 Whispered News
14 Route 67
15 Back of a Car (Big Star cover)
16 Dancing Days (Led Zep cover)
TT: 54:51 mins.

Let’s  Active:
Angie Carlson – keyboards, backing vocals
Eric Marshall – drums
Dennis Ambrose - bass
Mitch Easter – guitar, vocals