The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!

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25 O’Clock (1985). Andy Partridge’s great cover design.

The DUKES say it’s time…it’s time to visit the planet smile…it’s time the love bomb was dropped…it’s time to eat music…it’s time to kiss the sun…it’s time to drown yourself in SOUNDGASM and it’s time to dance through the mirror. The DUKES declare it’s 25 O’CLOCK.

It was twenty-five years today…April 1st, 1985…that Virgin Records released what was supposed to be a reissue of a lost psychedelic album from the late 1960s, 25 O’Clock by The Dukes of Stratosphear. The catalogue number was WOW 1 and the vinyl label was printed with the old black-and-white Virgin logo by Roger Dean even though Virgin Records wasn’t founded until 1972. No one was supposed to know that the album was really a pastiche project by XTC but I don’t recall anyone actually being fooled by this, all the reviews acknowledged XTC as the originators, and band members Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding were happy to give interviews enthusing about their musical obsessions. As well as being incredibly successful artistically the album was a surprising commercial success which led the bemused record label to ask for a sequel. Psonic Psunspot followed two years later and the Dukes’ vibe infected XTC’s own work for a while, with their 1988 album, Oranges & Lemons, pitched somewhere between the pastiches and the group’s more customary sound .

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Psonic Psunspot (1987). Design by Dave Dragon and Ken Ansell.

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Weekend links 3

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It’s a curious feeling when a drawing which is nearly 26 years old makes it out into the world. The image above is the cover of a new 7″ single release, Dominion of Avyaktam by metal band Orator, the picture being something I drew in 1984 entitled Mahakala after the Tibetan deity which it depicts. The inspiration was the cover of another recording, a Nonesuch Explorer album, Tibetan Buddhism – Tantras Of Gyütö: Mahakala, and also the track Mahakala by 23 Skidoo from their 1983 album The Culling is Coming. The skull is drawn from a real one I was given. Looking at this today none of the elements seem to work together—and the landscape stuff looks like a lazy way of filling in space—but it’s nice to see it find a home. Dominion of Avyaktam is out now on the Legion of Death label.

• Surprise of the week: two books I’ve worked on were nominated for Nebula Awards, Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch, and Kage Baker’s The Hotel Under the Sand whose interior I designed.

• More music: a recording of Paul Schütze’s Third Site played live in 1999 (with Clive Bell, Raoul Björkenheim, Simon Hopkins & Thomas Köner’s voice) is now available as a free download on his website. More Schütze: Paul Schütze & Simon Hopkins playing a set at the Horbar in Hamburg on December 28, 2009.

• The incredible pinscreen animations of Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker are finally available on DVD. Also new to DVD, Alan Bennett at the BBC, a four-disc set of some of his TV plays including a particular favourite of mine, his Kafkaesque drama The Insurance Man.

• More Ghost Box business: Jon Brooks aka The Advisory Circle has a blog. And Ghost Box’s Jim Jupp was interviewed recently by Peter Bebergal at Mystery Theater. Related (forgot to mention this last week): The ASDA Mix, a great mixtape of spooky retro weirdness by Moon Wiring Club available for free at The Wire.

The trailer for Mellodrama, a documentary about the Mellotron by Dianna Dillworth.

• The Parajanov Festival will be screening some of the director’s films in London and Bristol.

• Lots of weird and wonderful exhibits at the ~Wunderkammer~.