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

Friday, November 1

The dB's - 'Like This' REVISITED

The dB’s
Demos & Live
artwork included in download

FM + soundboard recordings (sound quality: VG+ to VG++; various dates & sources; track 01 is the sole audience recording)  
01 Love Is for Lovers (live)*
02 She Got Soul #1 (demo)^
03 Spitting In the Wind (live)+
04 Lonely Is as Lonely Does (demo)^
05 Not Cool (demo)^
06 Amplifier (live)+
07 A Spy In the House of Love (live)+ [brief FM signal interruption at 4:31]
08 Rendezvous (live)+
09 New Gun In Town (live)#
10 On the Battlefront (demo)^
11 White Train #2 (demo)^
12 Darby Hall (demo)^
13 Elvis, What Happened? (demo)^
14 Love Is for Lovers (demo)^

*The Blue Note, Columbia, MO 1984-07-16 aud
^Demo 1982-83 (tracks 02 and 11 have extra numbers in the titles because there was more than one version of the same song in the full demos set)
+Cat's Cradle, Chapel Hill, NC 1985-03-26 FM
#Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL 1984-12-05 FM

IF YOU ENJOY THIS ONE, be sure to check out the earlier post of The dB's debut album, Stands for deciBels REVISITED
ROB SEZ: Instead of posting the widely-circulated demos set from 1982-83, I decided to cherry pick a few of them and add some live tracks to create a “Like This REVISITED” comp. The dB’s third album is a triumph, especially given several big challenges — not the least of which was Chris leaving the band just as The dB’s were finally getting their first U.S. record deal.   

In case you’re not familiar with them, the demos date from that transitional time after the release of Repercussion, just before Chris left the group, and before the Peter-led dB’s signed with Bearsville Records in 1984. The source is a multi-generation cassette dub, so the sound quality is a tad muddy at times and there’s a bit of hiss on some tracks. I did my best to clean them up.   

The live tracks are standouts from 3 shows during the “Like This” tour: Columbia, MO, July 16, 1984 (The Blue Note); Chapel Hill, NC, March 16, 1985 (Cat’s Cradle); and Chicago, IL, Dec. 5, 1984 (Cabaret Metro). The first is a VG+ quality audience recording and the latter two are FM broadcasts. As usual, I used lossless sources for all the above. BIG THANKS to all the tapers and sharers, especially TheBynumite for his FM capture of the Cat’s Cradle show.
NOTE: don't be put off by the less-than-perfect sound quality of Track 1 -- the remaining tracks sound considerably better.
The “bonus tracks” for this collection are: the demo of “Darby Hall” (which, in its completed form, was a bonus track on the original CD release); the demo of “Elvis, What Happened?” (Peter must've had a serious Elvis fetish before the scales fell from his eyes…); and a just-couldn’t-resist repeat of the album’s first song in demo form. For extra enjoyment, read Peter's essay about writing "Love Is for Lovers" and hear an excerpt from the original demo of "Do You Believe This?" at The New York Times.
Like This, the original album,
appears to be out of print
Are you listening, benevolent record label people??