The Dukes of Stratosphear are therefore born, an imaginary band forgotten at the end of the sixties and only lately rediscovered, with all that was holy to psychedelic groups of that genre from the circus outfits and para-lysergic proclamations to the press release given by Sir John Johns (Partridge), The Red Curtain (Moulding), Lord Cornelius Plum (Gregory), E.I.E.I. Owen (Ian Gregory, Dave's brother and drummer on duty): "We hadthought about buying a synthesizer, but when we entered the shop none of us managed to pronounce the word".

Having been born as little more than a joke (the first EP, 25 O'Clock, was released on April Fool's Day in Great Britain), the project receives some success and is expanded into a real album, Psonic Psunspot, which took its ispiration from the late psychedelia, that already heralded the foreboding bland progressive winds.
A large part of the fun of listening to the album is in the discovery of citations from the epoch, that the group shamelessly admit: "Brainiac's Daughter is McCartney - the banana fingers and falsetto. Brainiac was a character who seemed to be in predominance during the 50s and 60s in Superman comics. He's green and looks a bit like Oliver Reed and he's got these little coloured lightbulbs sticking out of his head. I thought if he had a daughter she'd be a pretty terrific sort of gal! It's the sort of thing McCartney might have written about.
And it has to have bubbles in it. All McCartney psychedelia seems to have bubbles - Uncle Albert, Yellow Submarine, Octopus' Garden". Small gems that would not have been out of place in XTC's repertoire (Collideascope, Vanishing Girl, the very same Brainiac's Daughter), are not lacking and are even disseminated with carelessness.


We murdered them! They were all killed off horribly one by one. They choked on their own paisley shirts. lt's like Frankenstein's monster getting so big, we just had to kill it. There shouldn't have been two Dukes records.
We did the one thing as a joke and as a thank you to all of the bands that made our school days colorful. Then people responded so well to it and kept saying that we should do another one.
I resisted and resisted and Dave and Colin said, "C'mon, let's do another one. It was so much fun". So we did another one. But we mustn't do any more. The whole thing is that the Dukes can't go anywhere because they sound like your favorite bands from 1967. Well, we have contemplated taking them backwards making them a beat combo.
Or they could come forward and they can do a glitter album. They would actually change their name to the Stratosphear Gang and they'd be in heeled shoes.
Actually they would probably do all of the Helium Kidz songs, songs from our earlier career. The Helium Kidz had hundreds of songs, really crass songs. So maybe we should do the Stratosphear Gang plays the greatest hits of the Helium Kidz.

(Sir John Johns)

from "A school guide from XTC" by Massimiano Bucchi
(courtesy by Ed. Stampa Alternativa)



   the Dukes are:

Sir John Johns (Andy Partridge):
singing, guitar, brain buds

The Red Curtain (Colin Moulding):
electric bass, song stuff

Lord Cornelius Plum (Dave Gregory):
mellotron, piano, organ, fuzz-tone guitar

E.I.E.I. Owen (Ian Gregory):
drum set






XTC // The Dukes of Stratosphear

XTC were a band well known for expanding into new areas and making sonic leaps, so in the mid 80's when the fancy came over them to make some records that sounded like they they had come from 1967, they simply did just that. The added fun element being that they would release them under the pseudonym, THE DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR. XTC were going to party.

From the age of 13 frontman Andy Partridge had wanted to make psychedelic records just like the one he was hearing on the radio, and even after a gap of 18 years that desire still burned bright. Finding themselves with a few weeks on their hands and the services of legendary producer John Leckie, they set about the colourful task of working on a big thankyou to all the bands who made their school years sound so vibrant.

Under their 'nom-de-psyches' of Sir John Johns, Lord Cornelius Plum, Red Curtain and E.I.E.I.Owen they managed to summon up the spirits of Syds Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Hollies, Move, Byrds, Prunes and a score of other 67 psyche artists SO CLOSELY that several reviewers have suggested that they bettered the originals! If your idea of a good sonic Xerox starts and ends with the Rutles, you'll need to think again. The Dukes are the most fun your ears can have.

(from Ape House)





The Dukes of Stratosphear

da "La ballata delle Teste-di-Zucca: storia stratosferica dei duchi di Swindon"

di Riccardo Bertoncelli

Introduzione al volume
"XTC testi con traduzione a fronte"
Arcana Editrice - 1992




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XTC & Dukes of Stratosphear