Stands for Decibels

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Stands for Decibels
Stands for decibels.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1981
LabelAlbion (original release)
I.R.S. (1989 CD reissue)
ProducerAlan Betrock, The dB's
The dB's chronology
Stands for Decibels
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[5]
The Village VoiceA−[6]

Stands for Decibels is the debut studio album by American power pop band the dB's, released in January 1981 by Albion Records.[7] The album was commercially unsuccessful but critically acclaimed.[8] Stands for Decibels was ranked No. 76 on Pitchfork's list of "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s".[9]

At the time of its release, the dB's consisted of singer/guitarists Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, bassist Gene Holder, and drummer Will Rigby. The songwriting was evenly divided between Stamey and Holsapple, although Stamey became known for writing the stranger, more avant-garde numbers ("She's Not Worried", "Espionage") while Holsapple wrote the more accessible, poppier songs ("Black and White", "Bad Reputation").[10] Both Stamey and Holsapple played keyboards occasionally as well. Holder and Rigby did not receive any songwriting credits (other than a group credit for "Dynamite").

The first track, "Black and White", was also their first single.

The album was dedicated to George Scott III.

Track listing[edit]

Side 1
  1. "Black and White" – 3:09 (Peter Holsapple)
  2. "Dynamite" – 2:35 (Gene Holder, Holsapple, Will Rigby, Chris Stamey)
  3. "She's Not Worried" – 3:04 (Stamey)
  4. "The Fight" – 2:54 (Holsapple)
  5. "Espionage" - 2:39 (Stamey)
  6. "Tearjerkin'" – 3:56 (Stamey)
Side 2
  1. "Cycles per Second" - 3:06 (Stamey)
  2. "Bad Reputation" – 3:11 (Holsapple)
  3. "Big Brown Eyes" – 1:58 (Holsapple)
  4. "I'm in Love" – 3:29 (Stamey)
  5. "Moving in Your Sleep" - 4:35 (Holsapple)

Most later CD versions (including the dB's First/Repercussion compilation), came with two bonus tracks, the Holsapple-written single "Judy" and "Big Brown Eyes" B-side "Baby Talk".[11]


A retrospective AllMusic review by Chris Woodstra said, "On their debut, the dB's combined a reverence for British pop and arty, post-punk leanings that alternate between minimalism and a love of quirky embellishment, odd sounds, and unexpected twists; Stands for Decibels is clearly a collegiate pop experiment, but rarely is experimentation so enjoyable and irresistibly catchy", concluding that the album "stands not only as a landmark power pop album, but also as a prototype for much of the Southern jangle that would follow.[1]


The dB's


  • Stephanie Chernikowski – photography
  • Victoria DeVeraux – painting
  • Malcolm Garrett – typography


  1. ^ a b Woodstra, Chris. "Stands for Decibels – The dB's". AllMusic. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  3. ^ Dahlen, Chris (January 21, 2002). "The dB's: Stands for Decibels/Repercussion". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  4. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). "The dB's". The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  5. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 4, 1981). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Stands for Decibels on
  8. ^
  9. ^ Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s"
  10. ^
  11. ^ Stands for Decibels CD on

External links[edit]