Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chris Stamey - It's Alright

Chris Stamey was simultaneously both the more pop-oriented and the more experimental songwriter in the dBs. That much is made clear not only by listening to Stamey's contributions to the first two dBs' albums, but also by listening to how the band became a much simpler roots rock combo after he departed. (This is not a knock on Peter Holsapple, who I think is also a first-rate songwriter).

While Stamey's initial solo releases emphasized the knottier, more experimental side of his songwriting, It's Alright highlights Stamey the pop songwriter without totally abandoning his experimental tendencies. Artistically, it was a rousing success, commercially, not so much. After It's Alright's poor sales, A&M rejected a second album Stamey recorded for the label (later released by Rhino as Fireworks). Stamey mostly moved on to production work, and only recently resumed his solo career with a couple of albums for Yep Roc, including the outstanding Travels In The South.

Used copies of It's Alright are getting harder to find, but it is well worth tracking down. "Cara Lee" which leads off the album, is a simple, sweet pop song that should have gotten more radio airplay at the time. "From The Word Go" is a gorgeous ballad with a haunting minor-key melody, and can stand proudly alongside anything from Stamey's tenure with the dBs. The album is occasionally marred by typical late 80s over-production, but it never gets in the way of the songs, many of which ("When We're Alone," "It's Alright," "The Seduction," "Of Time And All She Brings To Mind," "Incredible Happiness," "27 Years In A Single Day") are terrific. For some reason It's Alright never grabbed the attention of the jangle pop/R.E.M. fans that were its natural audience, nor the larger market that it coulda/shoulda broken through to. It's an unjustly overlooked classic.


Anonymous said...

A truly great record. I don't understand how things like this go out of print. I finally copied my LP onto CD.


Pete Bilderback said...

Hi Ace,

Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, I do know why this is out of print--it never sold well. Eventually, I think stuff like this will end up in retail outlets like iTunes or eMusic, where costs are low. It is a terrific album though.

I'm in the process of digitizing many of my LPs to put on my iPod, which is how I end up with a lot of my material for the blog.

Leatherbag said...

is there any possibility of a re-post of 'Cara Lee'? very good blog. thank you for your time