Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who or What is Klaatu?

Well it’s a band and a character, but it’s also a bit of a mystery. First of all it’s the name of a character from a 1951 film, The Day The Earth Stood Still. The film is shortly to be remade with Keanu Reeves in the role of Klaatu; Michael Rennie played the original.

In the 1970s a Toronto rock band called themselves Klaatu and released an album called 3.47 EST in 1976, which included a single called ‘Sub Rosa Subway’ that sounded a little bit like the Beatles. Before long rumours started circulating that it was the Beatles in disguise. I bought the album at the time but couldn’t see it myself. The opening track was ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’. The song was inspired by an article in March 1953 in the magazine of the "International Flying Saucer Bureau". They asked their members to participate in "World Contact Day" when they would attempt to collectively send out a telepathic message to visitors from outer space.

In 1977 somewhat bizarrely the Carpenters covered Calling Occupants using over 150 musicians and singers to create what is a 7 minute magnum opus. It has a great guitar solo by Tony Peluso, the same man who played the killer solo on ‘Goodbye To Love’ (One of John Peel’s fave solos apparently). The Carpenters opens with a mock radio phone in which the DJ identifies the caller as Mike Ledgerwood. There was a Mike Ledgerwood who wrote for Disc & Music Echo in the 70s and I’ve always wondered if it was a deliberate reference.

10 comments:

Richard Evans said...

I remember Klaatu - who wouldn't with such an odd name. But I didn't know that 'Occupants' was by them. I loved the Carpenters' version and yes, what a great solo by Tony Peluso. I agree about that solo on 'Goodbye To Love' - amazing to hear that kick in after Karen carpenter's whispy and tender vocals.

I remember when I lived in LA seeing two apartment blocks that she and Richard owned. One was called 'Close To You' and the other 'Only Just Begun'. They were in Downey, close to their family home.

I went to pay my respects one Saturday afternoon, as you do, at the grave of one Eddie Cochran, guitarist and singer of some repute, and noticed that he and Karen Carpenter share the same cemetry, Forest Lawn, Cypress, CA.

Richard Havers said...

Also at Forest Lawn is Willie Bobo who did the original version of Santana's, Evil Ways.

r morris said...

I remember these guys. Also remember a period when everybody thought Badfinger might be the Beatles (at least in my gradeschool crowd).

jams o donnell said...

I've got to admit I have never gone beyond writing off the Carpenters as slush to appreciate the muscicianship in their songs.

Richard Havers said...

Jams you're missing a huge trick here :)

r morris said...

I agree, Jams. The Carpenters did some beautiful stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got a note via Facebook that the Mike Ledgerwood you think was the person referred to was indeed the same Mike Ledgerwood. At this point he was working for A and M records and was in the studio with the Carpenters. For some reason his name was used. From another Mike Ledgerwood

Richard Havers said...

Great stuff Mike. Always good to resolve this little unsolved riddles....

BakerFan said...

Here's a clip of Mike Ledgewood explaining how he came to get a name check. This is from Danny Baker's BBC Radio 1 show in the mid-90's:

http://www.internettreehouse.co.uk/audio/occupts.mp3

Richard Havers said...

Love the piece on Mike Legerwood, fantastic!