Friday 45: The dBs – Black and White

The dBs are a criminally underrated band from an underrated genre. Power pop was a label initially applied to bands such as Big Star (probably one of the better known bands to be labelled power pop), but which was also applied to some of the more accessible acts that emerged after punk rock’s peak in 1977.

The dBs have a loose association with Big Star – guitarist and songwriter Chris Stamey was in Alex Chilton’s post- Big Star band before forming the dBs in 1978.

Black and White was the first single off the band’s debut album, Stands For Decibels, which is fantastic. Despite power pop’s association with heavily Beatles influenced bands, The dBs sound pretty timeless, and were much more experimental than most bands labelled power pop

Of the band’s two songwriters, Stamey was the more experimental, while Peter Holsapple wrote poppier material (including Black and White). The material has an edge to it, though, a gritty ‘New York’ vibe inherited from the Velvet Underground, Television and the Modern Lovers (although the band was formed in New York, all the members were from North Carolina).

Black and White is catchy, but it fizzles with punk energy. It’s a great introduction to a band you should really get to know.


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