#tbt The Dukes of the Stratosphear / Chips from the Chocolate Fireball (1987)

By Randy Nieto
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Before Tame Impala, before Temples or any other of the psych-rock bands that have been dominating the indie charts, there was the Dukes of the Stratosphear. An alter-ego to XTC, the Dukes channeled the likes of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Byrds, and the Zombies in two brilliant E.P.’s (Psonic Psunspot and 25 O’clock). Songs so catchy, they could have been written by the Fab Four or the Beach Boys themselves, the Dukes of the Stratosphear utilize every tool at their disposal, including harmonies that would have made Brian Wilson fire Mike Love. Interspersed with dialogue from Alice in Wonderland, Chips from the Chocolate Fireball is a true psychedelic experience, with effects pedals on full blast, which might have you wondering what was in that brownie you ate earlier. But this album isn’t just a psych freak out, on the contrary, it is a pop rock masterpiece that is as catchy as the day is new. Whatever that means. And IMHO, it is better than anything XTC ever did. These guys really take it to the next level, and even created psychedelic pseudonyms for themselves: The Red Curtain, Lord Cornelius Plum, Sir John Johns, E.I.E.I. Owen. (The last one is my favorite). Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding are truly pop music geniuses, so sit back, relax, and take a trip on the Chocolate Fireball by listening to the Little Lighthouse below.

 

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