Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oh, Klaatu!

I've been on a "Klaatu" kick recently. There are certainly worse bands to be obsessed with, but this one is particularly alienating; if you get into them because of the "They're really The Beatles" myth, you'll be disappointed by all the songs that DON'T sound like The Beatles. If you like their debut album you're unlikely to enjoy the follow up, let alone the third.

I grew up with the band so maybe my genre-ideas hadn't hardened yet, but still I really DO love it when a band does something different every time. And I honestly don't understand what ISN'T to love about Klaatu, from their humble beginnings as Toronto session musicians to their quiet, pathetic collapse.

I wanted to post "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft," but of course the only video version available of the cover by The Carpenters. I love The Carpenters, and I particularly love their spot-on cover of such a bizarre song, but looking at Karen Carpenter makes me feel queasy.

The only REAL Klaatu video that I know of is for "Routine Day," which was incidentally the first song by them I ever heard. Up until now, YouTube's copy of "Routine Day" was terrible, but somebody has finally posted a high-quality version...from The Netherlands.

So here it is in all its glory. Listen to the lyrics. Learn them in Dutch. Pay attention to the many moods the song goes through. Dig that bass. And yes, it really DOES sound like The Beatles.


Jos said... we hear a mellotron there?

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Yes, I'm pretty sure the "flute" setting is used in there quite a bit, which might be one reason why it reminds me of "Strawberry Fields."

scott said...

My personal Klaatu favourites (and I can't believe I have them) are "Knee Deep in Love" and "Prison Cell".

Muffy St. Bernard said...

You have good taste, Scott!

And those are off of their most uncharacteristic album, watered down by studio ultimatums ("Pick a producer we approve of, and allow session musicians to interpret and play the instruments...though you can sing!")

But their talent and skill still shines through!

Klockwerk said...

Quote 'If you like their debut album you're unlikely to enjoy the follow up'

huh... loved the first when it came out, but was knocked out by the second. Why, oh WHY didn't they continue in the same direction?
Got anything 'unknown' like it?

Muffy St. Bernard said...

As a matter of fact I do, Klockwerk! There are a few other albums that seem to me to have a similar sound and feel.

"Spartacus" by Triumvirat was a concept album with equally grand pretensions. I haven't heard it in years, but I think it was much heavier on the synths (and, being of German origin, perhaps a bit cheesy).

"Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds" is pure bliss -- the perfect blending of acoustic instruments and analog synths, just like "Hope" -- though there's a fair amount of Richard Burton narration (and singing too...Justin Hayward, Chris Thompson, etc.)

Other albums that just FEEL like "Hope" to me are Electric Light Orchestra's "Time" and Supertramp's "Even in the Quietest Moments." But those are certainly more song-oriented.