Tornadoes

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A gust, a storme, a spoute, a loume gaile, an eddy wind, a flake of wind, a Turnado.

Captain John Smith from An Accidence, or the Pathway to Experience Necessary for all Young Seamen (1626).

In an age of storm chasers and increasingly spectacular photos, Lucille Handberg’s celebrated picture may seem undramatic, but for the moment this is still the most celebrated tornado photo to date. I knew the picture from an early age thanks to its appearance in a children’s encyclopedia. When Deep Purple’s Stormbringer album appeared in 1974 (below) that imperilled barn, and the shape of the twister, was immediately recognisable.

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Lucille Handberg took her famous photo on 8th July, 1927 as the tornado passed by Jasper, Minnesota. It’s a surprise to see from the account in The Milwaukee Sentinel that there’s at least one other picture. I tried searching for a larger image of the second photo but photo libraries still control its reproduction. The copy above is from an account of the tornado here.

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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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Another playlist for Halloween

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A follow-up to last year’s list. Seeing as Joy Division are very much in the news at the moment with the release of Control and the re-issue of the albums, I thought a post-punk theme would be appropriate. The period which immediately followed punk in the late Seventies saw a lot of doom being imported into what was then still a proper alternative to the mainstream of popular music. This trend quickly ossified into the distinct and far less adventurous genres of goth and post Throbbing Gristle/Cabaret Voltaire industrial but between 1978 and 1982 everything was in a state of fascinating flux.

Hamburger Lady (1978) by Throbbing Gristle.
TG’s heart-warming ode to a burns victim.

6am (1979) by Thomas Leer & Robert Rental.
Leer and Rental’s The Bridge album was originally one of the few none-Throbbing Gristle releases on TG’s Industrial label, one half songs, the other moody electronic instrumentals. 6am perfectly conjures a picture of empty streets at dawn and sounds like a precursor of Ennio Morricone’s score for The Thing.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead (1979) by Bauhaus.
The first Bauhaus single and the only song of theirs I liked. Put to great use at the beginning of the otherwise pretty risible The Hunger.

Day Of The Lords (1979) by Joy Division.
If anything shows that Ian Curtis was a Romantic in the 19th century sense, it’s this grandiose wallow in the atrocities of history. “Where will it end?”

James Whale (1980) by Tuxedomoon.
Church bells toll and a lonely violin shrieks for the director of the Universal Frankenstein films.

Halloween (1981) by Siouxsie & the Banshees.
With a title like that, how could it not be included here?

Goo Goo Muck (1981) by The Cramps.
Always superior collagists of rockabilly weirdness and early garage riffs, The Cramps started out in the horror camp (“camp” being a big part of their act) with the Gravest Hits EP. Goo Goo Muck was a cover of a great single by (I kid not) Ronnie Cook & the Gaylads. “When the sun goes down and the moon comes up / I turn into a teenage goo goo muck.”

Raising The Count (1981) by Cabaret Voltaire.
An obscure moment of resurrection originally on the Rough Trade C81 cassette compilation from the NME.

Gregouka (1982) by 23 Skidoo.
Gregorian monks meet Moroccan pipes and drums with the result sounding like a voodoo ceremony taking place in cathedral catacombs.

The Litanies Of Satan (1982) by Diamanda Galás.
The formidable Ms Galás was part of last year’s list and her first album is just as hair-raising as her later works. The second part is the marvellously titled Wild Women With Steak-knives (The Homicidal Love Song For Solo Scream).

Happy Halloween!

Previously on { feuilleton }
White Noise: Electric Storms, Radiophonics and the Delian Mode
The Séance at Hobs Lane
A playlist for Halloween
Ghost Box