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Klaatu
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  • 3:47 EST,
  • Hope,
  • Sir Army Suit,
  • Endangered Species,
  • Magentalane,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Klaatu

    Klaatu - 3:47 EST( 1976 )
    Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft / California Jam / Anus Of Uranus / Sub-Rosa Subway / True Life Hero / Doctor Marvello / Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III / Little Neutrino.

    Not only were Klaatu compared to The Beatles but for some reason the bizarre rumour got round that they actually were The Beatles. Reunion rumours were rife surrounding The Beatles at the time. Imagine The Beatles came from Canada? Even that doesn't work, Klaatu are far less a guitar band than The Beatles ever were. It got them attention, and the record company sat tightly as the band kept their identities secret. Once it was revealed who they really were, interest in Klaatu fell off somewhat, but i'm getting ahead of myself. Do you remember that nice Carpenters hit 'Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft'? It's a Klaatu song actually, and still their most famous song to this day. Appearing here it runs for seven minutes, which I wasn't expecting. The Klaatu vocals sound like a watered down copy of each member of The Beatles if they'd cross bred and moved to Canada. A little John over there, a little element of Ringo there, a little Paul on that other section.... obviously they were Beatles fans, and there is nothing wrong with that. Piano and keyboard sections appear everywhere, the vocals are decent enough and the song works. 'California Jam' sports a few Beach Boys harmonies, but nobody mistook Klaatu for The Beach Boys, ever. 'California Jam' is happy, a huge pastiche, and seemingly a piece of giant fluff with no substance whatsoever. The music is constructed well, as it was with 'Calling Occupants', but there's just something lacking - I can't put my finger on it. The stupidly titled 'Anus Of Uranus' introduces guitars and riffs to the Klaatu sound. It sounds like another pastiche, although of whom i'm not entirely sure. There's a faint element of Glam in here, but other than that I couldn't say. 'Sub-Rosa Subway' sounds quite lovely with it's Piano rolls and catchy chorus and bells ringing. A good-un, this one.

    'True Life Hero' is guitar heavy with a pounding drum sound helping out. This song works, the lyrics are quite funny in places and well put together. 'Doctor Marvello' is semi-psychedelic ten years after the event and 'Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III' just too bizarre for words to even begin to describe. It sounds like pure novelty to me, albeit quite funny novelty. I can't imagine it withstanding repeated listening, the growled semi-spoken vocals are harsh on the ears, and that's ignoring the music, which in this case it's probably best to do. 'Little Neutrino' ends the album with seven minutes of dreary stoned sounding psychedelia not done very well, and done ten years too late. Still, I suppose you've got to admire Klaatu for sticking to their guns, if nothing else.

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    Readers Comments

    Joel Larsson joel.apa@proggare.com
    I was surprised that you obviously didn't like this album. It's the one Klaatu album most people enjoy. "Calling Occupants" is one of the most gorgeous and beautiful songs of the latter half of the 70's, imho. Those mellotrons melodies and the throughoutly going naive gentleness is refreshing - it's brilliantly stupid. Same goes with the rest of the first four songs, "Doctor Marvello" and "Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III". Hey, these guys were funny! The only problems with the album are the quite generic rocker of "True Life Hero" and the way too pretentious "Little Neautrino", but if I were to rate the album, it'd be an 8½ or 9.

    Tim England
    Never heard of Klaatu until a friend told me about a "progressive" pop group that some people said were the Beatles in disguise. Sounded promising. What a disappointment. The whole album sounds like a pastiche of Eurovision song contest songs, ELO, or a multitude of AOR bands of the time. The slightly Beatles like vocals and the almost constant use of a Cor Anglais reminds the listener of the Beatles but other than that, if you think they sound like the Beatles you must have concrete in your ears...Oh, and Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby sounds like the muppets. Make you remember why Punk was such a savior for music. Awful


    Hope( 1977 )
    We're Off You Know / Madman / Around The Universe In Eighty Days / Long Live Politzania / Loneliest Of Creatures / Prelude / So Said The Lighthouse Keeper / Hope

    Better stuff second time round. Klaatu sound more like themselves in places, even though a heavy Beatles 1967 influence remains. What's really changed is that the songs are better than before. Not all of them, but a few gems are present on 'Hope' for everyone to enjoy, if only they even knew they existed in the first place. 'We're Off You Know' has brass parts, evocative lyrics and a giant chorus hook. Swoon-some harmonies, it's a joy, I tell you! "Our journey begins...." they sing, and the brass parts swim around the vocals making this listener grin. 'Madman' opens with soulful vocals, yeah. Actual soulful and very good vocals. A glam beat comes in and the vocals go all 1972. Keyboards are overly utilized, everything turns harsh. A guitar solo swings in briefly and then we're back to sweet soulful vocals. And, so the song continues. Very strange stuff, this. 'Around The Universe In Eighty Days' is a pretty enough instrumental to begin with, although the keyboard sound dates this terribly. When the vocals do come in, they sound horribly strained and un-natural. Who even are Klaatu? Ah, but they'd been found out around the time of this album. Been found out, so why all this pretence? God, I want another 'We're Off You Know', you know.... 'Long Live Politzania' is a piece of weird novelty, although certain orchestral parts are genuinely impressive. I don't enjoy really sitting through this eight minute long song, though. But, what's this? 'Loneliest Of Creatures' is too brilliantly bizarre for words with a weird keyboard sound, a few string sections, semi-operatic vocals and many vocal proclamations with "OH NO!" parts in the joy that is the songs chorus. You know, I really like this song! It's truly too stupid for words, so daft you can't help but gain enjoyment from it. Special mention for the interweaving vocal harmonies here, by the way. Oh, yes.

    'Prelude' continues the album, flowing naturally from 'Loneliest Of Creatures' and sporting pretty wonderful and enjoyable orchestral parts. Classical music this, almost. Guitar comes in halfway through and the level of stupidity is raised. Once the guitar and orchestral passages mix through the songs energetic close it all makes some sort of sense, even if it doesn't make GOOD sense! 'So Said The Lighthouse Keeper' isn't any easier or more familiar and Klaatu remain a deeply strange bunch of fellows. Good musical parts through the middle section of 'So Said The Lighthouse Keeper' make-up for slightly harsh vocals elsewhere. The closing title track is sweet and the strings come in and The Beatles aren't far away. 'Hope' has variety as an album, though. There is different kinds of stuff here, and it works much better than the debut overall, even though the record received scant attention at the time of release. Well, even now it receives scant attention, come to think of it.

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    Readers Comments

    Joel Larsson joel.apa@proggare.com
    Let's say it right away. This album is the closest to perfection an album has ever come, to me. It's pretentious, sure, and it's a cheesy theme, but those voice-twisters do fulfill their task, and the guys kept humble all the way. No band has, like Klaatu, made pretentious music with that kind of humbleness. This album features some of the strongest orchestrations in the history of rock, beating both Beach Boys, Beatles, and whichever lesser known group. (Nick Drake's arranger Josh Kirby comes close, though). The songs are all VERY solid, and few albums have like this one managed to keep a good balance between rock and classical. I don't know how anybody who hasn't been raised with classical would respond to the album, but I, my poor boy with parents both only listening to classical, would without the least doubt proclaim it the strongest and most solid mutation between rock and classical ever, including stuff like Jesus Christ Superstar.

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    I picked this up one day at a Value Village store for $1.00 . Good thing I only paid $1.00 for it because it isn't that good. If it's a concept album, it's a pretty confusing and dumb concept. The only good thing is that one of the lead singers sounds like John Lennon sometimes. I'd rather listen to The Beatles than this.

    Richard Daish richard.daish@btinternet.com
    I think that Hope is probably the most inspiring album I have ever heard, and its superficial science fiction theme hides a far deeper, and far more important philosophy. Most modern, and not so modern, philosphies, especially the humanist ones, invariably end below Kirkegarde's line of despair, i.e. there is no future for mankind, collectively or individually, after death. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam amognst not very many others, all end above the line of despair, and so does "Hope". I find it deeply moving, the orchestrations, with the London Symphony Orchestra, are exciting, especially the stirring end to "Politzania", the philosophy of the piece providing an excellent counterpoint to the eponymous song.


    Sir Army Suit( 1978 )
    A Routine Day / Juicy Lucy / Everybody Took A Holiday / Older / Dear Christine / Mister Manson / Tokeymor Field / Perpetual Motion Machine / Cherie / Silly Boys

    At which point, Klaatu become a more regular band in an attempt to actually sell some records, one presumes. The influences are still there, but no more so than  other groups around at the time. There are some nice songs here, nice moments and Klaatu sound well produced and pretty accomplished. 'A Routine Day' has effective complimentary strings and a vocal that tugs at your heart-strings a little. 'Juicy Lucy' has good melodic keyboard work, a slightly quirky song but nothing as quirky as previous material. The lyrics are clever in places, the vocals are good again. Good album, so far! 'Everybody Took A Holiday' has a very Beatles rhythm surrounding it and the song is well constructed and catchy. The "everybody took a holiday..." hook is quite strong, and the album continues to shape up nicely. 'Older' opens with guitar work, but the song is nothing memorable or special at all, deeply average Rock stuff. Klaatu work best within a pop format, their Rock material, even if this 'Older' features a blistering guitar solo - just doesn't work as well. Besides, the vocals here are dumb. 'Dear Christine' is more like it, a sweet pop ballad of a kind. It's nothing special, but easy to listen to and enjoy. 'Mister Manson' is a thumping messy wall of noise, the guitar tries to inject some excitement and the lyrics tell a story, but ugliness and not attractive or exciting ugliness, abounds. The song is well-constructed and well performed, but this masks a lack of anything 'special', which I realise is a subjective, unquantifiable thing, but what I can I do?

    'Tokeymore Field' sends us into side two with happiness and handclaps and a Lennon inspired vocal. Still ploughing those Beatles fields, these Klaatu lads, but the song is catchy. 'Perpetual Motion Machine' sounds a little psychedelic, obviously and boringly so, but this element is contained within a very melodic song structure that's fairly enjoyable. 'Cherie' has old sounding strings, like 1930's strings. A sweet, soft vocal - a sweet soft love song. A little too schmaltzy, perhaps, but it's no disaster even if the medieval section in the songs instrumental break raises an eyebrow or two. 'Silly Boys' closes the album with a little funky feel, the guitar is fun - the vocals shrouded in electronic effects, probably unnecessarily so, but then, this IS Klaatu. They couldn't possibly do through an album without doing at least a couple of bloody stupid things, could they? Backwards vocals come in, oh well. The album works, it's nice to listen to - but only the first three songs are really classifiable as 'good' as opposed to being just pleasant diversions for a brief moment in your life.

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    Readers Comments

    Joel Larsson joel.apa@proggare.com
    I'm once again forced to disagree with the rating, this time because the sound of this album, plus the Klaatu gentleness, of course, makes this album something very special for the era. Nothing else sounded this way in 1978, if we disqualify "Older" and "Mister Manson". It's like Klaatu's declaration of love to the 60's/early 70's pop, and sure, it might be meant to be a selling record, but that's all okay since it isn't mainstream. Pop ditties like the magnificient "Perpetual Motion Machine", "A Routine Day", "Juicy Lucy", "Everybody Took A Holiday", "Tokeymor Field"...it's weird that you could resist. To me, the album excercises a resonance like only a Klaatu album can do, and I love it. I'd stick on a rating of 8½ for this one.

    Barry Stoller barrystoller@utopia2000.org
    Klaatu! What an arcane place to visit, quite charming to see them remembered / discovered posthumously. This is the band that got me - suburban 70s hippie wishing to relive the edgier 60s - through a few years ...in the US Navy. Indeed, I remember my delight and amazement to find Sir Army Suit on sale at the PX when it usually received only 10 new releases a month. Let me assure you, no one else in the US Navy had ANY use for Klaatu. Hope was always my favorite - a bombastic merger of Beatles and ELO with a little Queen tossed in (especially that badly processed guitar). I'm sure I couldn't bear to hear a single note nowadays - one MUST discard boyhood toys - but in my distant recollection, I love them still. After all, Hope was what I needed then.


    Endangered Species 2 ( 1980 )
    I Can't Help It / Knee Deep In Love / Paranoia / Howl At The Moon / Set The World On Fire / Hot Box City / Dog Star / Sell Out, Sell Out / All Good Things

    Session guys come in to 'help' the Klaatu cause. And, this doesn't sound like Klaatu, just sounds pretty regular Rock / Pop music. Beatles influences lessened, strings not there, daftness gone completely, and I miss the daftness, dammit, however irritating at times that daftness was. 'I Can't Help It' is nice enough an opening song and the vocals are decent and doing their job. A Sixites vibe is here in the background, provided entirely by the vocals, really. 'Knee Deep In Love' sounds like a Klaatu song in places, but also sounds like a Ringo Starr solo effort in places, which isn't really progress for the group. I don't know what the hell the deeply ordinary sounding guitar is doing. Oh, strings are here, by the way. Not that they help a deeply average song and performance. 'Paranoia' has a little swing about it, but sounds weirdly dated in places, and then in other places, quite simply desperate given the guitar sound, very ordinary guitar - semi-rock guitar. Pop rock? Klaatu ARE pop/rock, but at least they used to be interesting, even if they weren't original. Here they don't even sound interesting. 'Howl At The Moon' is ridiculous, 'Set The World On Fire' some kind of ironic song title, surely? A regular semi-hard rock guitar part opens 'Hot Box City', a song that is neither 'Hot', 'Box' nor particularly 'City', but never-mind that. Everyone gives up and goes home, and this attempt at 'forcing' Klaatu to produce a regular sounding album with a regular producer and with session guys assisting, falls completely flat on it's face. A bunch of road sweepers could walk into a studio with a team of producers and session guys and produce an album like this, really they could.

    'Dog Star' at least sounds like Klaatu lyrically. The music is the usual 'Endangered Species' blend of anonymous semi-rock guitar. A drum beat and machine assisted hand-claps open 'Sell Out, Sell Out'. I have a problem with hand-claps that aren't real hand-claps. Sure, you can switch on a machine to clap for you, but it doesn't sound the same, dammit! The chorus of 'Sell Out, Sell Out' is one of the most desperately bad things i've ever heard, by the way. I don't know what 'All Good Things' is doing on here at all, because it's actually a good song, played on acoustic guitar with strings embellishing it in places. Sounds like it came from a different session, it sounds like a different universe than the rest of this sorry excuse of an album. <

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    Joel Larsson joel.apa@proggare.com
    This is the only point where I fully agree with you. This isn't a radio-friendly, easy-listened record, it is so mainstream that it is an impossible listen. That Klaatu touch is gone, this is just plain non-inspiration, from a band which were forced to record this album by their record company, and the band members have always distanced themselves from the album. I guess we can forgive them, since it really wasn't their fault, but this is REALLY REALLY awful, horrible and terrible.

    Lou Harrisburg, PA
    My comment on Endangered Species is this: The band knew their record contract was in trouble if they did not sell, so they let a corporate producer "produce" them - but I think they knew it was doomed - and I believe "sell out sell out" was their way of telling their true fans - "Sorry" - but as a late 70s pop music album it is about standard for the genre - but as a Klaatu album, it was so far off base it should not count against them.


    Magentalane 4 ( 1981 )
    A Million Miles Away / The Love of a Woman / Blue Smoke / I Don't Wanna Go Home / December Dream / Magentalane / At the End of the Rainbow / Mrs. Toad's Cookies / Maybe I'll Move to Mars / Magentalane (It Feels So Good)

    Klaatu bow out, say goodbye - only absolutely nobody particularly cares at the time. 'Magentalane' sounds more Klaatu than the previous album, although the material isn't good. Klaatu follow the same themes they always did, only not quite so well. 'A Million Miles Away' is cliché after cliché after cliché. It's not good at all, actually. What is this stuff? 'The Love Of A Woman'?? What the hell is this stuff??!? It's bloody shit, that what it is, sorry for the language. Deeply average, solo Lennon inspired stuff by numbers, and sounding like it was created by a child of ten. Jesus Christ, 'Blue Smoke' opens with a little Rock N Roll, and even though Rock N Roll isn't Klaatu at their best, and even though this is clearly another Lennon inspired number - at least isn't vomit inducingly terrible. Still, let's carry on, vomit or no vomit. Er, nice! And indeed, 'I Don't Wanna Go Home' is very nice and sweet and a total highlight of the entire album. A song that's understated, with acoustic guitars and not much else. It works. 'December Dream' opens with strings, and I was waiting for strings! I like my Klaatu with added strings, dagnabit! Where did those classical influences go, anyway? 'December Dream' is a nice song, a serious song. The title track is right back on track, good Klaatu stuff with Beatles / Lennon inspired rhythms, string parts, good lyrics. Hey, things aren't so bad after all.

    'At The End Of The Rainbow' is accomplished pop music, 'Mrs Toad's Cookies' a much welcome return to quirky Klaatu sounds. I don't know a single thing about Klaatu behind the scenes, but 'Magentalane' sounds less like a 'band together' kind of project than previous Klaatu albums. I guess at least one of the three Klaatu members had lost interest in the entire enterprise, which is hardly surprising given their lack of either sales or respect. 'Maybe I'll Move To Mars' is a slow and very bland ballad, with only a tone of vocal and lyrical matter meaning anything. The final 51 seconds of music is a bouncy happy thing, a brave face - let's go out with a smile. They needn't have bothered, really.

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    Joel Larsson joel.apa@proggare.com
    Allright, I can see you giving the album a lower rating than the first three albums, but I don't agree that the songs are weak and that it's a bad album. Stuff like "A Million Miles Away", "Blue Smoke", "Maybe I'll Move To Mars" plus a long row of simple little joyful tunes makes it for me. I'd stick on a rating of 7½, because none of the songs are bad, just neat little silly ditties. I love that. "The Love Of A Woman" isn't a too good tune, though.

    Jim Jess georgejess01@aol.com
    What a wonderful surprise, finding your Klaatu reviews. I thought I was the only one who knew about this totally underrated band! I only ever found two of their albums on sale, the first I bought in the late 70's, Hope, I still adore, it is almost the perfect rock album. The other, Endangered Species, you are right in saying almost sounds like a different band, but it is not as bad as a 2 (surely that is reserved for Boy Bands) and does have two classics - Knee Deep In Love and All Good Things are sublime. I've since found and downloaded some of the other tracks online (my fave so far is Maybe I'll Move To Mars) and confirmed my opinion that this was one hell of a talented little band who remain a well-kept secret.


    this page last updated 23/08/15


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