Stands for Decibels

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Stands for Decibels
Stands for decibels.jpg
Studio album by The dB's
Released January 1981
Recorded 1980
Genre Power pop, alternative rock
Length 34:36
Label Albion (original release)
I.R.S. (1989 CD reissue)
Producer Alan Betrock and The dB's
The dB's chronology
Stands for Decibels
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A-[2]
PopMatters recommended[3]

Stands for Decibels is the acclaimed 1981 debut album by the dB's. It was initially commercially unsuccessful but has since become recognized as a crucial album in the power pop canon, alongside releases by Big Star and Let's Active. Many rock bands, from Yo La Tengo and Teenage Fanclub to R.E.M., have cited the album as an influence.

At the time of its release, the dB's consisted of singer/guitarist Chris Stamey, singer/guitarist 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"). 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"), but with this album, they helped create a reputation as a dynamic rhythm section.

The album's sound is mainly characterized by its use of power pop melodies and jangly guitars subverted by strange time changes and instrumentation. Most songs are uptempo, but the last song, "Moving in Your Sleep", became one of their best known ballads. The first track, "Black and White", was also their first single.

The album was dedicated to George Scott III.

LP track listing[4][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 CD versions (including the Stands for Decibels/Repercussion deluxe CD), came with two bonus tracks, the Holsapple-written single "Judy" and "Big Brown Eyes" B-side "Baby Talk".[5]




  • Stands for Decibels was ranked No. 76 on Pitchfork's list of "Greatest Albums of the 80s".[6]


External links[edit]