Reason #274: Chips From he Chocolate Fireball
Chips From The Chocolate Fireball is actually a compilation released in 1987 of an LP (Psonic Psunspot–great title, right up there with Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump IMO) and an EP (25 O’ Clock) that XTC released under the name Dukes Of Stratosphere. Meant to be an outlet in which they could unleash some of their more psychedelic, uncommercial ideas, The Dukes actually created music that stood head to head with not just XTC’s greatest but also the best of the original psychedelic period (’65-’67) they were purporting to ape in the first place! One listen to the chiming guitars of Vanishing Girl and you’ll think you’ve been transported to 1966 London. In lesser hands a project like this can come off as an exercise in nostalgic camp, or worse some self important melding of Spinal Tap meets YES meets The Ruttles. Instead it comes across as a long lost classic from the ’60’s. The influences are obvious (Zombies, Yarbirds, early Floyd and of course The Beatles) but XTC being one of the best bands in the history of pop, they never sound forced and make the songs their own. Here all the stars align and the songs that principal songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding come up with for this project are all top notch tunes, every last one of them. If they had never released Skylarking this would definitely be my favorite XTC album.
Here’s a video of one of my favorites, The Mole From The Ministry: