The Dukes of Stratosphear/Pink Floyd: “Bike Ride to the Moon/Bike”
The Dukes of Stratosphere (1985)
Pink Floyd (1967)
Today, rather than a straightforward Cover Friday, we’ve got more of a Pastiche Friday (not the most catchy name, really — maybe “Tribute Friday”?), and in this case it’s the Dukes of Stratosphear, better known as XTC, doing a song that’s a pastiche of early Pink Floyd. “Bike Ride to the Moon” shares only part of the title with Pink Floyd’s “Bike,” and none of the lyrics, but compare the two songs and you can see that the Dukes were showing their appreciation for early Pink Floyd in the song.
For those of you unfamiliar with the two Dukes of Stratosphear albums, 1985’s 25 O’Clock and 1987’s Psonic Psunspot (later repackaged together on the Chips from the Chocolate Fireball CD), they were XTC’s way of thanking the bands that had inspired them, focusing primarily on ’60s psychedelic pop. The band members took on humorous personas to fit: Andy Partridge was “Sir John Johns,” Colin Moulding was “The Red Curtain,” and Dave Gregory was “Lord Cornelius Plum” (drumming was handled by non-XTC member Ian Gregory, as “E.I.E.I. Owen”). They are incredibly accurate and entertaining albums; none of the songs are straight covers — they’re all originals done in styles meant to suggest other bands. The fun comes from trying to pinpoint the band(s) they’re mimicking the sound of. And with XTC’s talent, they succeed in creating songs that could easily have been hits in the ’60s, without ever sounding completely like the bands they’re paying tribute to (although the Beach Boys tribute, “Pale and Precious,” is pretty darn close).
So back to today’s songs: “Bike” appeared on Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, back when they were still Syd Barrett’s band, focused on far-out psychedelia. That’s the version of Pink Floyd that so influenced Andy Partridge et al. — you’ll find little of the ’70s Pink Floyd sound in XTC’s music. “Bike” may be the most straightforward pop song on the album, and in “Bike Ride to the Moon,” from 25 O’Clock, Dukes of Stratosphear have emulated the sound and feel of “Bike” exceedingly well. (It has also been suggested that “Bike Ride to the Moon” was based on an obscure psychedelic song called “My White Bicycle” by an equally obscure band named Tomorrow, and while that may be partly true with the lyrics, I think the Dukes were definitely leaning more toward “Bike” overall). In any case, it’s a fun ride…