Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey – Our Back Pages
Having been familiar with these musicians through their work with the group The dBs, a jangle-pop group from Winston-Salem, NC. I knew what I was going to be exposed to.
With the release of this fine 13-cut Omnivore Recordings collection (dropped June 12) Holsapple & Stamey revisit some dB’s songs only this time the tunes are reimagined acoustically. Fleshed out & in a more mature acoustic showcase that allows the older listener to actually hear in a different realm how beautiful some of those old dB’s songs actually were.
Holsapple stated: “These stripped-down versions add a credence to our belief that a truly good song can stand up without a lot of bells & whistles.”
The majority of the songs haven’t aged — all have that Stamey-Holsapple melodic richness, absorbing vocals, & guitars steeped in what Alex Chilton & Chris Bell probably had intended for themselves way back in the 70s as Big Star & achieved to a degree. There’s something about these songs they’re like a warm lingering embrace.
Peter Holsapple, from Greenwich, CT has played with R.E.M. & Hootie & the Blowfish. For a time, he joined the wonderful Americana group the Continental Drifters (with Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills).
Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Chris Stamey, played briefly with the late Alex Chilton & Big Star. Stamey also worked with the alternative-country band Whiskeytown & released 6 solo LPs since 1982. He also founded Car Records & released some of the late Chris Bell (Big Star) records. I always thought Bell looked like he could’ve been the younger brother of Nick Drake.
The majority of the titles are melodic, whimsical & meticulously crafted. “Big Brown Eyes,” “Picture Sleeve,” “Today Could Be the Day,” – all infectious melodies, well played & most importantly — memorable.
The effort was produced by Peter & Chris – who played all the instruments including toy piano, ukulele, banjo, harmonium, acoustic bass & many guitars. Andy Burton as part of the dB’s plays organ & piano on “Nothing Is Wrong.” Libby Rodenbough from Mipso contributed orchestral violins on the previously unreleased & marvelous Beatlesesque “Depth of Field.”
Additional musicians include John Teer (violin), Will Rigby (drums), & Gene Holder (bass).
The music is a delightful romp with good sound. Not so much nostalgic as reinvented. Stamey & Holsapple’s imaginations are stamped on each sweet melodic morsel. There’s lots to appreciate here.
The Omnivore CD package is designed beautifully with lyrics on the inside spread. (Some may need their glasses).
The 45-minute CD is available @ http://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/our-back-pages/