Fricke's Picks: The Dukes of Acid

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The psychedelic revival was still deeply underground when a shady British combo, the Dukes of Stratosphear, surfaced in 1985 with an EP, 25 O'Clock, built entirely from slyly recycled remains of freakbeat's first golden era: the '67-Pink Floyd organ solo in the Electric Prunes bull's-eye "25 O'Clock," the tripping-Beatles citations in "The Mole From the Ministry." The Dukes were, in fact, New Wave royalty: the English band XTC in an affectionate parody of reverb-soaked pop art. But the jape — which included a 1987 LP, Psonic Psunspot — is a true high in its own right. XTC only borrowed from the best — the strafing jangle in 25's "My Love Explodes" is surely modeled on the Misunderstood's 1966 recording "Children of the Sun" — and even improved on their idols: "Pale and Precious," on Psonic Psunspot, has more iridescent '67-Beach Boys sunshine than anything Brian Wilson served in the Eighties. Rewriting history also helped XTC perfect their own psychedelia. Their next album, after the Dukes' EP, was the sublime Skylarking. The new reissues of 25 O'Clock and Psonic Psunspot, on XTC singer-guitarist Andy Partridge's Ape House label, include demos that mainly highlight the delightful precision of the original releases.

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