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   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 Cornelis Plum (Gregory), EIEI 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 (Callideascope, 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)

Sir John Johns (Andy Partridge): vocal and guitar

The Red Curtain (Colin Moulding): vocal and bass

Lord Cornelius Plum (Dave Gregory): guitar

E.I.E.I. Owen (Ian Gregory): drums

from "A school guide from XTC" by Massimiano Bucchi



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

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