Of course, I realize that “Amplifier” was originally released on Repercussion in 1982, but I’m going to write about the re-recorded (or “re-recorded”) version that is on Like This for reasons that I hope become somewhat clear as I go on.
1984’s Like This is probably the first dB’s album that most people heard. While both Stands For DeciBels and Repercussion were released on the tiny Albion label, Like This was released on Todd Rundgren’s Bearsville records, which — while still not a major label — had a distribution deal with WB, meaning there was some major label clout behind it.
So Like This was their breakthrough record, relatively, doing pretty well on College Radio where — for example — it just missed making KFSR’s 1984 DJ Poll Top 15 while still showing up on several individual lists.
But it wasn’t beloved by me back then, and while I’ve warmed to it over the years, I still consider it to be the weakest of their original four records, probably because Peter Holsapple wasn’t quite ready to carry the songwriting on his own following the departure of Chris Stamey.
So while “Amplifier” was by far my favorite song on like this Like This, it was just one of several amazing songs on Repercussion along with “Happenstance,” “Nothing Is Wrong, “Neverland” and “Ask For Jill”.
Of course, that just goes to the high level of songs on Repercussion. After all, any song that plays around with the Bo Diddley beat and starts with “Danny went home and killed himself last night” is already way ahead of most songs.
Apparently Danny & his girlfriend broke up, and she pretty much cleaned him out:
She took his car, she took his bike
She took everything she thought he liked
And what she couldn’t take, she found a way to break
She left his amplifier
Even better, “Amplifier” invokes the Handclap Rule by emphasizing every single thing she took with handclaps. And when Holsapple gets to the bridge, he explains why the amplifier probably set Danny off.
An amplifier is just wood and wire
and wire and wood don’t do any good when
your heart is blazing like a wildfire
and all you’ve got to show for it’s an
Of course, she left more than the amplifier: she also left a ladder and some rope, at least according to the video for “Amplifer,” as Danny doesn’t seem like the kinda dude who would run out and buy a rope and a ladder just to kill himself, which I’m assuming happens during the piano solo at the end of the song.
Original video for “Amplifier” (shitty sound quality)
Auto-Generated video for “Amplifier”