Five bands who pretended to be different bands

By Matt Neal
Updated November 7 2012 - 2:13pm, first published September 25 2009 - 10:22am

SOME authors have nom de plumes - a pen name they use to release work that might be a bit different and off-putting to their regular fans. According to Wikipedia, the musical equivalent is a nom de disc, and it's not uncommon for acts to take a new name to flew some musical muscles they wouldn't ordinarily use.Here's five great bands who pretended they were someone else for a bit of fun.XTC/The Dukes Of StratosphearMUSICOLOGY favourites XTC dressed themselves in paisley and technicolour to Masquerade as The Dukes in the mid-'80s. XTC main-brain Andy Partridge had longed to honour his psychedelic heroes of the summer of love and when he was dumped from a producing job with Canadian singer Mary Margaret O'Hara for asking the band to play in time, Partridge and producer John Leckie found themselves some spare weeks to crank out a disc of psych pastiches. In 21 days and for 4000 pounds, Partridge (suitably renamed Sir John Johns), XTC bandmates Colin Moulding (The Red Curtain) and Dave Gregory (Lord Cornelius Plum) and Gregory's brother Ian (E.I.E.I. Owen) cranked out the brain-meltingly good 25 O'Clock, an ode to The Electric Prunes, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Move and more. The mini-album sold more copies than the previous two XTC albums, inspiring them to pull at the lava lamps once more for Psonic Psunspot in 1987.U2/PassengerNOT content with the experimentation on their hit record Zooropa, mega-band U2 decided to go all out on their next project Passenger, which saw regular producer Brian Eno playing a an active role in the band's songwriting and composition. Filled with mostly instrumental tracks, the album Original Soundtracks 1 did yield a successful single - the Pavarotti sung Ms Sarajevo - and many of the songs did in fact appear on some movie soundtracks. But U2's label decided it was too weird to be released under the name U2 and they became Passenger. Fans and critics agreed it was odd and not that good, and even drummer Larry Mullen concurred: "There's a thin line between interesting music and self-indulgence," he said. "We crossed it on the Passengers record."Green Day/Foxboro Hot Tubs/The NetworkIN the wake of their huge American Idiot, Green Day tried to stop being Green Day for a bit and started thrashing out garage-rock tunes on an eight-track for a drunken lark. Due to frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's distinctive voice a lot of songs sound like Green Day, but not all (Stop Drop And Roll for instance). It's not Green Day's first use of a nom de disc - they have denied it but the Cali-punks and a few mates are rumoured to be a faux new wave group called The Network. Hank Williams/Luke The DrifterHANK Williams was the first music star to embrace the rock 'n' roll lifestyle - before rock 'n' roll was even invented. But his manager was also the first to realise that an artist's name is not just a name, but a brand. So when Williams started doing some more religious-themed tunes, complete with preaching rather than singing, it was decided that to protect the Hank brand they should be released under the name Luke The Drifter. The ploy worked - Luke The Drifter didn't have any hits, but Williams kept on topping the charts in the meantime.Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons/The Wonder Who?NOW famed in the stage show Jersey Boys, Frankie Valli and his singing buddies were no strangers to name changes. Originally called The Four Lovers, the vocal group became one of the biggest record sellers in the world from '61 to '67. Despite having a string of huge hits featuring Valli's way-up-there falsetto (Cherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don't Cry), a supposedly 'joke' falsetto used by Valli on Dylan cover Don't Think Twice was considered to odd to release under the Seasons name and so they became The Wonder Who?. Three more singles followed under the same name, using Valli's same 'joke' falsetto, but is it just us who finds his high-pitched vocals on Walk Like A Man kinda funny anyway?

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