Mar 032009

In preparation for the April 7 reissue of the remastered Dukes of Stratosphear records, Andy Partridge is retroactively recording what he has described as “sketches” of the demos that were recorded in preparation of the legendary XTC offshoot band’s recordings.

“Considering that most of the Dukes demos have already been released as part of my Fuzzy Warbles series,” said Partridge, “and to give ‘Stratosphans’ their full due of bonus goodies, I’ve been recording impressions of what would have been my original ‘sketches’ for the Dukes’ demos.”

Partridge explained that he had “satchels” of cassette tapes containing bits and pieces of riffs that would be developed into full Dukes songs and then demoed for his bandmates. “Ah,” recalled Partridge, “in my mind’s eye I can still see the C-60 onto which I’d first played the riff that would make up ‘My Love Explodes’!”

The song sketches were victims of some unwanted housekeeping. “Sadly, that cassette and many others of its ilk were tossed along with a stack of comic books and vintage porn clippings that my ex could no longer tolerate upon rare ventures into my little shed.”

Partridge is planning to include some of these re-recorded song sketches with the reissued Dukes records. “I’m looking into the feasibility of releasing the rest,” said our fearless archivist before hanging up, “as part of a series of 180-gram vinyl 10-inch eps!”


  41 Responses to “Andy Partridge Retroactively Recording “Sketches” of Demos”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    In other fake band news:

  2. dbuskirk

    That Richard Lloyd might be an impossible interview but he sure can rock a paisley shirt! Mod might have to re-write the “Look” link after seeing the aging CBGB stylistic splendor RL is modeling.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    I’m watching U2 play some “new” song on Letterman (man, these guys have nothing going on with this turd), but what’s really catching my eye is the close-shorn Bono’s sudden resemblance to Ringo Starr of the last 20 years. All that’s missing is a scarf and a peace sign.

  4. dbuskirk

    “I’m watching U2 play some “new” song on Letterman (man, these guys have nothing going on with this turd)”

    You’re a braver man than I, M. Mod. U2 is the current full court press promotion for the music industry, they seem to be everywhere this week. Lots of attention, but do people really care about U2’s twelfth album of their near thirty year career? I’d like to see the industry throw their weight behind a band that has a bigger future than a past.

    Funny, recent talk about one-time passions for U2 reminded me that my favorite song of their is from a 7″ single I have, “A Celebration”. It captures them at their prime WAR-era anthemic best, yet recently I found out the song is the red-headed stepchild of the band’s catalog. It was dropped from their singles collection and only recently came out on CD, buried in the extras of the OCTOBER 2 disc set. I can’t imagine what their beef with the song is, but it figures if they did something I really liked they themselves would hate it. Here’s a video of the song…

  5. saturnismine

    comic books and vintage porn that the ex tossed in a fit of rage?

    do we really need to know this backstory? the box set / reissue market is now coaxing artists across the TMI line.

    what kind of ‘bonus material’ will be included with the next dukes reissue, when another newer format for songs takes over?

  6. I am sick of the sub-par bonus material that we are getting with these reissues. Andy has released 2-3 versions of every song he’s ever written. The studio released version is always best. I liked the Live Box Set, but come on.

    Rather than fake demos, how about a fake live record? Set up a XTC band (new guys? old guys? and do a soundstage DVD and CD as if there was a 2009 World Tour.

    I have the Replacements bonus tracks and they are not very good (the good ones were disc 2 of All For Nothin..) The Costello ones are mostly decent, but I maybe keep 3-4 songs from each one on my ipod (Armed Forces is the exception..that one is strong all the way through)

    The Who’s Next Reissue got it right – 4 songs that were left off the record or recorded at the same time more or less. Don’t need crappy demos and songs that were b-sides in Japan

    The Motorhead reissues are the same way, played em once, that was plenty

  7. what’s really catching my eye is the close-shorn Bono’s sudden resemblance to Ringo Starr of the last 20 years. All that’s missing is a scarf and a peace sign.

    Personally, I can hardly tell Bono and Robin Williams apart.

  8. alexmagic

    There’s still more Dukes material that can be put out in later reissues. We could get some sketches of the outfits they designed for the Chips From the Chocolate Fireball cover. And there must be some outtakes of the little girl doing the spoken word stuff for between songs. Maybe three or four alternate versions of her reading “the puffin sipped at his herbal tea and sighed…” with some studio chatter and encouragement from Partridge?

    On U2, did anybody read about Bono’s half-hearted attempts to start a mock feud with Coldplay? He called the guy from Coldplay a “wanker” and cretin, which is a pretty sad attempt to get some press. I’d much prefer Bono if he really started ripping people, abusing his place at the top of the rock food chain.

    But anyway, the really offensive thing was that he later put Coldplay Guy and Noel Gallagher from Oasis on the same level as Paul McCartney and Ray Davies.

    I agree with Oats, by the way. Shaved-head Bono is Robin Williams, especially Popeye-era Robin Williams.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    It’s funny, as I catch up on the morning’s chatter the Partridge demo of “Great Fire” is playing. Man, I really love that band so much through Mummer – and even through the overthought The Big Express and the first Dukes ep. It really pains me to think that they could not have maintained their weird, insular approach for a few more albums. The record industry is not set up for full-time musicians who have so little regard for what the record industry needs. I wish I could have gotten Andy, Colin, Dave, and Terry Chambers well-paying day jobs so that they could have done their thing in the commercial vacuum in which it deserved to have been done.

  10. It really pains me to think that they could not have maintained their weird, insular approach for a few more albums.

    Very strange hearing this sentiment from you, Mr. Winner Rock.

  11. Mr. Moderator

    Oats, there are times when the game can only be won on a board, with the right roll of the dice. I feel The Kinks also would have benefited from taking their music to a “gamer” level in 1972 rather than fighting for survival in the arena rock scene.

  12. dbuskirk

    Mod: “The record industry is not set up for full-time musicians who have so little regard for what the record industry needs.”

    Yes Mod, XTC’s inability to sustain momentum is another example of the failure of Free Market Capitalism.

  13. I think Andy Partridge needs to stop looking up his own butt and move on. That “How Easter Theatre Came To Be” thing is a prime example. Write song, record song, release song, repeat… IMHO.

  14. BigSteve

    I get the feeling this isn’t going to win over anyone here, but Amazon does this thing of radically reducing the prices of certain mp3 albums. The new U2 is curently $3.99:

    I bought it last night (I probably would have bought it anyway, but this sale helped), though I haven’t listened yet.

  15. Once Terry Chambers left, it was all downhill. He was the secret to their success as it was his hard hitting that pefectly balanced the lightness of the songs. HE was the key third bananna

  16. Also – XTC had a really excellent 4-album run from “Drums and Wires through “Mummer”. Probably only EC had a better run (out of non-60’s musicians) from “My Aim is True” thru “Imperial Bedroom”

    Who else had strong multi-album runs?

  17. Andyr, I might throw the R.E.M. into that game with Murmur through Green. I think Out Of Time is a fine enough record, but it’s a step back from the momentum they built upon.


  18. Also – XTC had a really excellent 4-album run from “Drums and Wires through “Mummer”. Probably only EC had a better run (out of non-60’s musicians) from “My Aim is True” thru “Imperial Bedroom”

    Who else had strong multi-album runs?

    Good call on the XTC and EC multi-album runs, though I would extend XTC’s up to Skylarking or the Dukes Lp, whichever came first (I think the latter, but I’m not sure).

    As for others, here are my picks.

    The Stones – Beggars through Exile
    The Damned – Machine Gun Etiquette up to Strawberries
    The Jam – All Mod Cons up to Sound Affects
    Wire – 1st 3 albums

  19. Blur: Modern Life is Rubbish through Blur

    Cafe Tacuba: they’re entire career’s been solid, but that’s because they take forever bewteen albums

    The Chameleons: Script of the Bridge through Strange Times

    The Flaming Lips: In A Preist Driven Ambulance through to the Soft Bulliten. That’s an incredible stretch. Yoshimi was good too, but it was a step down.

    Radiohead had a pretty good run from the Bends to Kid A. They’ve sorta redeemed the rest of their 2000’s stuff with In Rainbows

    and also, that Beatles band had a pretty good run from–


  20. I would definitely agree w/berlyant’s choices above.

    Though I just finished posting a small rip on The Clash on the ‘Hippy’ thread, I’d rate their run from the 1st (both US & UK versions) trough Combat Rock right up there, considering how much music was offered on 5 or 6 (depending on how you’re counting) releases (+ the EPs).

    I also think Graham Parker & The Rumour had a pretty good run up through Squeezing Out Sparks.

    The Mekons, from Fear & Whiskey through Retreat to Memphis. That’s about 6-7 releases right there. I thought they were all top shelf.

    Whilst on a Mekons-related tangent, I’d say just about all The Waco Brothers releases are pretty great, & that’s 7 studio & 1 live (I may even prefer this band to The Mekons, & I was a major Mekonista).

    I dunno if any of you listen to Neko Case, but I’ve been playing her new one, ‘Middle Cyclone’ for the last week & think it’s probably her best yet. Love that voice.


  22. BigSteve

    I don’t know, those Damned records are good, but they seem more like an example of ‘what doesn’t belong on this list.’

  23. Mr. Moderator

    I was thinking some more about that Fuzzy Warbles set today. I bought one or two full CDs when they came out and quickly learned that any demo for a song that I did not already liked in its full, released form was best left unreleased. I’ve since learned that eMusic carries the series, so now I’ve gone through the 8 or so CDs and downloaded the 2 or 3 demos for songs I already liked in their released form, no longer bothering to think that some unreleased song might be a gem or that some overpolished song from Oranges & Lemons might actually be great in demo form.

    I talked about this with Sammy for a few minutes today. How can someone write so many subpar songs? More importantly, how can we desire to collect so many of them? What is it, Sammy asked me, that draws XTC fans to a band led by a guy who’s – consciously or not – cultured this collector mentality? I don’t begrudge Andy for trying to maintain his farmboy’s wages, but doesn’t he – or Costello, with each new reissue – feel ashamed of airing out some songs that weren’t up to snuff for proper release? Among the many amazing things about the Beatles is that, had they all died in a 4-way taxi crash in 1970, en route to Allen Klein’s office, there would have been – what, 4 or 5 distinct, unreleased original Lennon-McCartney compositions? The alternate takes and mixes would have come out, but how many original Beatles recordings were never officially released in any form until that Anthology series: “If You’ve Got Troubles,” some blues jam, some really early song with a bit of a Phil Spector sound…?

    In no way am I comparing my own songwriting efforts to those of Andy Partridge or even Andy Kim, but I’m thankful that I’ve never been prolific enough to have hundreds of completed demos of songs my bandmates and I knew better than to have completed and released or played out. What turds have been released is another matter; at least I chose to let them see the light of day. At the time they were the best I could do. Andyr, Chickenfrank, Sethro, E. Pluribus Gergely…I have an important favor to ask of you: You are well aware of some turds I’ve demoed over the years for bands we’ve been in that are better left forgotten. Excluding the demos we did in our high school days, most of which I never want to hear again but were the best I could do at that time, there must be a dozen stone-cold stinkers that I brought to you in demo form and that you helped me realize weren’t worth the effort. For this I thank you. Should I die in a taxi crash en route to Allen Klein’s office, please have my wife destroy all demos that we knew better than to complete, learn, play out, and/or release. Do not allow Jeff Lynne to call you together to finish any of these demos in some misguided tribute to your old friend. Just burn the turds and cut up on me while you throw each 4-track cassette master on the fire. Thanks.

  24. hrrundivbakshi

    Yo, Mod — I’m no Partridge apologist, and find 90% of the Fuzzy Warbles stuff to be pretty awful — but there *are* a few gems in the “unreleased” pile. Songs I’d be really surprised to hear you didn’t like. Have you heard, and do you really not like, the following:

    End of the Pier
    The Art Song (Something Good With Your Life)
    Bumper Cars
    Prince of Orange
    My Train Is Coming

    “End of the Pier” and “Prince of Orange” in particular are as good as anything XTC actually released, in my view. The other three are admittedly trifles, but really enjoyable ones.

    Speaking for myself, I have no interest in listening to demo versions of songs I like in fully fleshed out form — from any artist.

  25. dbuskirk

    Mod pleads: “Do not allow Jeff Lynne to call you together to finish any of these demos in some misguided tribute to your old friend.”

    I’m pretty sure they’ve already pegged Brother J.T. in case of that eventuality…

  26. Moddy, I’ve STILL got a cassette of high school era Nixon’s Head, copied from Andyr’s tapes. At this point in time, I find it sort of endearing, in that goofy, 16 year old, kind of way. I’m certainly not about to go tossing it on any bonfires any time soon. In fact, It’ll probably be transferred to a digital delivery storage device of some sort pretty soon. Now if SOMEONE just had a decent copy of Crock o’ Shit’s “I Still Drive My Mother’s Car”, I could die a happy man. Chickenfrank was so PUNK, he couldn’t be bothered with saving one for posterity.

  27. Mr. Moderator

    Wow, Bobby, I remember that Chickenfrank classic!!!

  28. I have four Fuzzy Warbles discs. Most of it is ignorable, but there is stuff I like:

    Wonder Annual
    I Don’t Want to Be Here
    Young Marrieds
    Ship Trapped in the Ice
    Dame Fortune
    some of the spooky instrumentals
    The stretched-out psychy band version of Summer’s Cauldron

    I don’t see the big deal about these discs. They’re mail-order thingys for the completists. Are there Deadheads who rue what Dick’s Picks have revealed? I’m not a big fan of endless re-reissues, but I’ve resigned myself to their existence. At least Partridge doesn’t compound them with a fatuous talk show and deeply irrelevant new albums.

  29. Moddy, Yes, “Mother’s Car” was quite the toe-tapper, & MY finest moment as a vocalist (which is saying a lot, I know). I wish I’d gotten my hands on a copy, before it disappeared into the ether.

  30. Actually we have the “Amazing” Fred S all set to come in and finish up these demos.

    Doesn’t Chicken still have a copy of “Mothers Car”?

    BobbyB – I would love to have a digital copy of the old “The Zone” stuff. I know I would cringe constantly but it would be fun to hear.

  31. “Mother’s mother’s fucking car.”

    Not only do I remember that song, I still actively sing it on occasion even after all these years.

  32. hrrundivbakshi

    The Chickenfrank number I remember most fondly was “The Dukes (Of Badass).” That *was* written by Mr. Chicken, right?

  33. Andy, Frankie didn’t have it last I heard. Of course, that would’ve been nearly 20 years ago at this point. At some point, it was mixed into stereo, but I don’t think any of us ever got a cassette copy (it was on reel to reel). I dunno if he wrote “The Dukes”, but I’m pretty sure “Warlords of War” was his.

  34. Mr. Moderator

    I think Chickenfrank and Andyr cowrote “The Dukes (of Badass)”, but I can’t be sure.

  35. I know Andy SANG “The Dukes…”, but was left unaware as to the composer. I tried to do the vocal for “Warlords of War”, but was either too drunk to do it properly, or it was just that I envisioned the vocal as more of a whiny, Ozzy-esque deal, while chickenfrank ended up doing it in more of a Lemmy-like delivery. Yet, my demonic cackle remained on the recorded version. You guys just couldn’t touch my Satanic gravitas.

  36. I was also a member of the ‘chorale’ on The Sultans of Hell’s anthem, “Got A Right To Party”.

  37. Mr. Moderator

    Wow, Bobbyb, I completely blacked out on all that went into those sessions and the fact that you were on them. Very cool!

  38. Jeez, And I was the one drinking! In all seriousness, as a comic, I somehow have an elephantine memory for the distant past, despite whatever substances (prescribed & illicit) with which I’ve perforated my grey matter. Ask me where my keys are at the moment, & I’m lost.

    Yeah, I was there for the tracks mentioned. I think y’all had already “laid down” the tracks for the rest of “The Foundation of History”. Most of it, anyway. I know I wanted to give the Heidnik’s Basement track a shot, but Mr.Chicken wanted to strip down to his bike shorts, oil up, & do his best Hank R. on that one…..Despite my epochal turn on “I Still Drive My Mother’s Car”. I mean, I was the Chris Morris of my block, ferchrissakes! Guess he just wanted something more “Mandom”-like.

  39. or -esque. Take yer pick.

  40. Sadly, Andy seems to have forgotten that he stumbled across this silly thread a couple of years ago and that I already addressed the core of what I was getting at and still stand behind. Someone pointed out that he’s still bitching about this on his Twitter feed. So be it. I still love XTC and Andy Partridge. I’m still sad he’s not able to make available more new music rather than reworked demos, which was really my point in the first place.

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