The Dukes Of Stratosphear
25 O'Clock



by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
June 24th, 2009 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: While slightly gimmicky, The Dukes of Stratosphear's 25 O'Clock is an upbeat, trippy and humorous homage to the psychedelic bands that inspired them. Recommended to fans of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.

The Dukes of Stratosphear was a pseudonym used by the 80’s new wave band XTC, as an outlet to release heavily 60’s inspired psychedelic rock that would sound completely out of place on a normal XTC album. After the success of their first EP, 1985’s 25 O’Clock, a full length album, Psonic Psunspot was released in 1987. The same year both were put together into a compilation album, Chips from the Chocolate Fireball.

Unlike other neo-psychedelia bands of the time such as Rain Parade and the other Paisley Underground bands, The Dukes of Stratosphere don’t create their psychedelic sound with mellow dreamy melodies or atmospheric keyboards. Instead, the music is completely chaotic and insane. While the full length album would be slightly calmer and more ordinary, on 25 O’Clock the upbeat bass lines and riffs are constantly surrounded by layers and layers of guitar fuzz, trippy synthesiser effects, piano and organ. The production is pretty much perfect, creating a trippy dense sound but also letting the hugely catchy riffs and basslines stand out against the effects completely, never letting them sound at all buried. The vocals are also energetic and clear, despite often being coated in effects and distortion

A lot of what really makes 25 O’Clock great though is the tongue-in-cheek feel to it. The music never takes itself too seriously, making it great fun to listen to. At times it is absolutely hilarious, thanks to the bizarre lyrics. The Dukes even went as far as releasing the EP on April 1st, claiming it was an album of lost gems from the late 60’s and not made by XTC at all. Despite being treated in such a light-hearted manner, it would be unfair to dismiss The Dukes of Stratosphear as a gimmicky joke. The songwriting is consistently excellent and the songs can honestly stand up to any original psychedelic rock released in the 1960’s.

However, the EP could very easily be criticised for being totally unoriginal and even going as far as totally stealing the sounds of other bands, and even specific songs. ‘Bike Ride to the Moon’ sounds like it could have been taken straight off Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn while ‘The Mole From the Ministry’ is clearly heavily inspired by The Beatles’ ‘I Am the Walrus’. The intro to the title track is taken almost straight from The Electric Prunes’ ‘I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night’ and even the album cover looks suspiciously similar to the cover of Cream’s Disraeli Gears.

However, viewing The Dukes as thieves would be missing the point somewhat. It was never meant to be new or original, and should instead be seen as a tribute to the bands, albums and songs that inspired it. There are references all throughout the lyrics to different obscure psychedelic bands, and while it doesn’t do anything particularly new, it manages to recreate the sounds of the late 60’s with a new found energy. If anything, 25 O’Clock manages to advertise the bands it references. With its all too short length and varied styles it never gets at all dull or boring and stays interesting for multiple listens.

Overall, while 25 O’Clock could be too silly for some, fans of psychedelia should love it’s upbeat trippy vibe and humorous homages to the original psychedelic greats.

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user ratings (43)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 24th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

First review in aaaaages.

June 27th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

gonna get it soon. and going to start writing reviews again as well. now that I don't have much to do for the next three months and so :D

July 5th 2009


oh, I'm having the same problem as you mendigo, although summer should be the time to spend outside haha
I weill get this too..

June 9th 2012


holy shit this is so good.

July 19th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

yea really

September 4th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

2033, cannabis in tea!

February 19th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

This jams damn

September 30th 2019


yooo this is that goodgood

October 28th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

Wow where has this been hiding? Digging this more than anything XTC did under the main name

October 28th 2020


Album Rating: 3.5

great bump prefer this sooo much to XTC stuff

October 28th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

Keep expecting Skylarking to click one of these days, and still waiting. This shit came was just instantaneous. Absolutely nails that retro tone soundplay, and so much fun to boot

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