From page 92 of Classic Rock Magazine November 2003
Home Should Have One
An undervalued or forgotten gem you may have overlooked.
INFINITELY MORE FAMOUS FOR THE heated speculation that surrounded the identity of the creators of the record than for the record itself, the debut album from Klaatu nevertheless remains a fine example of radio-friendly yet psychedelic mid-70s pop-rock.
The album was mysteriously released in a sleeve that featured a smiling sun rising over a hill strewn with mushrooms and butterflies, but bore no credits for the musicians or the producer behind it. The mystique was heightened when it was revealed that nobody from Capitol Records had even met the band by the time the label released ‘Klaatu’ in the summer of 1976.
It was a journalist in Rhode Island who first put two and two together and came up with five, initiating rumours that Klaatu were none other than The Beatles and that ‘Klaatu’ was a long-lost, anonymously issued follow-up to ‘Revolver’. His ‘evidence’ was flimsy to say the least: The Fab Four had shelved an album before their own 1970 break-up; Klaatu was the name of an alien in the sci-fi film The Day The Earth Stood Still, in which the actor Michael Rennie had appeared; coincidentally, Rennie had also been pictured at the door of a spaceship that appeared on Ringo Starr’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’ album; The Beatles and Klaatu also shared the same record company in North America; further parallels were drawn between Klaatu’s track ‘Sub-Rosa Subway’ and Paul McCartney’s solo album ‘Red Rose Speedway’.
Meanwhile, the silence from Klaatu was deafening.
Consequently, Rolling Stone awarded them Hype Of The Year 1977, and NME ran the headline ‘Deaf Idiot Journalist Starts Beatle Rumour’.
But by then ‘Klaatu’ had already sold more than 600,000 copies.
Klaatu were in fact a trio of studio musicians from Toronto (ironically, a city that John Lennon’s persecution by the CIA had caused him to consider relocating to) led by multi-instrumentalist and singer Terry Draper. None of the trio had a pedigree of any real significance, but they all had talent in abundance. It also later transpired that ‘Klaatu’ was produced by Terry Brown, of Rush, Voivod and Max Webster fame.
A mostly lightweight and provocatively arranged album, ‘Klaatu’ begins with its best- known song (though not necessarily its best); The Carpenters later took ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft’ into America’s Top 40, Richard and Karen having wisely retained the original’s spirit, even spicing up its coda with an inspired hard rock guitar solo. Klaatu’s version still has a beautiful pleading innocence that is hard to beat.
Elsewhere, Draper and fellow member John Woloschuk display their best Lennon/McCartney harmonies on the Beach Boys- influenced ‘California Jam’. Based on a riff inspired by The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’, the spirited ‘Anus Of Uranus’ is followed by the lavish commercial tones of ‘Sub- Rosa Subway’. Klaatu add an intelligent twist to the era’s bubblegum sound with ‘True Life Hero’, and tiptoe soothingly through ‘Doctor Marvello’ before ‘Sir Bodsworth Rubblesby III’ lives up to its eccentric title, coming on like The Muppets jamming with Genesis. Finally, ‘Little Neutrino’ sprawls across eight-and-a-half minutes of spacey, symphonic exploration.
A vinyl copy of ‘Klaatu’ is now rare; in 2000 BGO reissued it on CD, which can be obtained from www.bgo-records.com or Klaatu’s official home page at www.klaatu.org.
IN A NUTSHELL Radio-friendly psych-pop genius spiced with the merest suggestion of an unfounded Beatles connection.