Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Dukes of Stratosphear -- "25 O'Clock" (1985)

25 o'clock!
That's when you're going to be mine 
25 o'clock!
We'll be together 'til the end of time 

Think about it.  Isn't 25 o'clock a bit of overkill?  After all, there's not really even a 24 o'clock, is there?  There's 23:59 (using military time) but there's no 24:00 -- you go back to 00:00 and start all over again.  So 25 o'clock is way out there.

2 or 3 lines introduced you to the Dukes of Stratosphear -- XTC's alter egos -- in December.    Like Spinal Tap and the Rutles, the Dukes of Stratosphear are inspired parodists.  But they are also much more than that.

While the other two groups wrote some very good songs, their brilliance is primarily comedic.  By contrast, XTC were exceptionally gifted songwriters and performers.  When they decided to pull our legs a bit and donned the disguise of the Dukes of Stratosphear, they couldn't help turning what started off as a funny idea into a work of pop-culture art.  

It's as if Mozart had decided to write a piece in the style of Bach.  Not only would you have a great parody, but you'd have a great piece of music.

It's not hard to imagine the Dukes of Stratosphear as a genuine 1960s psychedelic supergroup -- they could have been the band that inspired the Beatles, Hollies, Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and many others.  

It's fun to listen to each Dukes of Stratosphear song and try to figure out which real groups and songs inspired it.  As we discussed, "Pale and Precious" is an absolutely perfect Beach Boys song -- probably the best Beach Boys song ever recorded (which is high praise indeed).  It's modeled primarily on "Good Vibrations," but has bits and pieces of many other Beach Boys songs.

Here's a link to an online forum with a series of posts nominating different psychedelic-era records as the inspiration for each Dukes of Stratosphear song.    My thinking is that the song that "25 O'Clock" most resembles is "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," by the Electric Prunes.  The people who posted to this forum agreed with that, but also nominated a few other songs (some of which I've never heard of).

Here's "25 O'Clock," which was originally released on an EP with the same title on April Fool's Day, 1985.  (Wink, wink.)  Thank goodness this song exists, because I've already posted about Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4," and I can't think of any other songs with 25 in the title.

Unfortunately, some *sshole record company lawyer has forced Youtube to take the original version of this song down (while leaving up a couple of dozen other Dukes of Stratosphear songs) -- so I had to embed a cover of the song by They Might Be Giants.  It's not as good as the original, but it's not bad.   

Click below if you'd like to order the song from Amazon:

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