XTC, 'Skylarking' original 'banned' cover

Although a release date has yet to be set, Andy Partridge this week unveiled the restored cover art — featuring close-up photos of men’s and women’s flower-adorned pubic hair — planned for the forthcoming double-vinyl reissue of XTC’s 1986 album Skylarking.

According to Partridge’s Ape House Records, that original artwork was “banned” by Virgin Records after London record stores were shown mock-ups and “went all coy and said they would refuse to stock it.” Hence the replacement cover art.

In an old interview posted on the Chalkhills fan site, Partridge describes the rejected Skylarking sleeve: “On one side, pubic hairs of a woman photographed very closely, with meadow flowers tangled, on the other one, pubic hairs of a man with flowers tangled. … I found that it nicely summarized the time, the place and the feeling of the album, and there was a ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ side, mischievous outdoor sex.”

In revealing the original cover, Ape House says, “We’re dressing this wonderful sounding double vinyl release in its original sleeve, the one that was planned to clothe it way back when. We’re sure that folks won’t be so prudish in this, the 21st century, and that you’d like the band’s history put right visually, and sonically, so to speak.”

As Partridge announced in June, Skylarking is being reissued “as it was intended to sound, but never has due to human error.” Mastering engineer John Dent was working on a vinyl reissue of Skylarking when he discovered that all previous vinyl and CD editions were manufactured with the sound polarity reversed, resulting in a thinner sound, light on bass.

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