In the late summer of the U.S. Bicentennial, an album was unleashed upon the public which caused much rumor-mongering and gossip within the music world. That album was 3:47 EST, the debut album by Canadian progressive/psychedelic group Klaatu. The album was hailed superb by critics and fans alike. Furthermore, what people couldn’t get over was the striking similarity between the style of some of the tunes on the album with The Beatles’ music. Thus, the inevitable “did The Beatles reunite to make an album?” rumors began.
Supposedly, in 1966, The Beatles recorded enough material to fill an entire album that was intended to be a follow up to Revolver. Of course, the master tapes were somehow “lost” from Abbey Road studios. Dealing with Paul McCartney’s alleged “death” in a car accident, The Beatles didn’t want to be bothered with re-recording the album. When a Paul McCartney look-alike stepped in to take “dead Paul’s” place, The Beatles decided to stop touring and began working on an entirely new album which turned out to be Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. 1975 rolled around, and these very “missing” master tapes were rediscovered while researchers were gathering information for a future Beatles documentary entitled The Long And Winding Road (which became the Anthology series twenty years later). The remaining Beatles decided it would be a great opportunity to release the recorded material as a proper album, sort of in tribute to the “late” James Paul McCartney. They came to the conclusion that it would be best to release the album with no songwriting credits, and no photographs. That way, the album could be purchased and enjoyed solely on its musical merits, and free of any Beatles-hype.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not completely…
When the record hit store shelves, people began wondering a bit. Why was the album put out by Capitol records (which was the label The Beatles songs were released on in America and Canada)? Why were there no pictures or names of the band members anywhere on the sleeve? Why were there no proper production or songwriting credits given, only “Produced by Klaatu”, and “All selections composed by Klaatu”? “Klaatu” was the name of the alien from the film The Day The Earth Stood Still, and why on Ringo Starr’s Goodnight Vienna album was there a photo of Ringo dressed as Klaatu, standing with Gort (the robot in the film) in front of the spaceship from the movie? Is that just an odd coincidence? Why did a few of the songs on the album have vocals which sounded a lot like Paul McCartney and John Lennon? The questions go on and on. I don’t want to waste any more of your time on this entire back-story. There’s tons of information available on the internet. What is for sure, however, is the pure listening joy this album delivers, no matter who was responsible for it! (By the way, Klaatu was/is a real band from Toronto, Ontario. They released several other critically-acclaimed albums, and went on tour. They’re still performing today.)
“Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft)” starts off the album, and is probably Klaatu’s best remembered song, although it only stalled at #62 on Billboard’s Hot 100. A year later, The Carpenters recorded the song, where it reached a respectable #32 on Billboard’s Hot 100. A perfect piece of proggy-space pop, with a memorable shout-out to visitors from outer space. “California Jam” is track two, and sounds more like early ’70s AM Bubblegum pop than The Beatles. A good, uptempo power-pop tune, though. The album continues with “Anus Of Uranus,” which is a bit of a heavier song with a silly title. Side one finishes with the second highlight of the album (the first being “Calling Occupants”), “Sub-Rosa Subway”. Now, this is where I can begin to understand The Beatles comparisons. The singer certainly sounds a lot like Paul McCartney, and the basslines are undeniably McCartney-esque. But still, the song sounds a bit too modern to have been supposedly recorded in mid-1966. This is a song which you’ll probably find yourself putting on repeat.
The album continues being a blast to listen to. The production is great, the songs are great, the music is great! True, songs like “Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III” sound a bit like something the Muppets (Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem!) may have recorded, so you’re not going to find a life-changing album here by any means. But, who cares? This album finds its way to my turntable almost on a bi-weekly basis, when I want to listen to something fun and arrogance-free. Pick it up if you have the chance. You’ll be wanting to purchase their other albums after hearing this, which are just as much fun. This record will put a smile on your face, for sure.
John Woloschuk: bass, guitar, keyboards, lead vocals
Dee Long: guitar, bass, lead vocals
Terry Draper: drums, percussion, trombone, vocals