Klaatu

Klaatu was a Canadian symphonic art-pop trio that issued four 1973–75 singles, compiled with further material on their 1976 Daffodil–Capitol album 3:47 E.S.T. Rumored to be The Beatles, Klaatu’s members retained their anonymity on the 1977–80 albums Hope, Sir Army Suit, and Endangered Species, then unmasked on their 1981 swan song Magentalane.

Members: Terry Draper (vocals, drums, trombone, percussion, keyboards), John Woloschuck (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), Dee Long (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals)


Background

Klaatu formed in 1973 as the studio project of multi-instrumentalists Dee Long and John Woloschuck. They took their name from the alien who visits Earth in the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Long cut the 1970 single “Toronto” (b/w “I’m Your Man”) with garage-rockers Bloodstone. Woloschuck hailed from the rock trio Whitemail with Dino Tome and Terry Draper. Their one single, “(I’m) Dreamdaying” (b/w “Lonely Lover”), appeared on small-press Prawn in 1971.

Klaatu debuted with the 1973 Long-composed single “Hanus of Uranus,” pressed in a painted sleeve with printed lyrics about an interplanetary cab ride. The b-side, “Sub-Rosa Subway,” is credited to “Chip Dale,” the collective pseudonym of Woloschuck and Tome. Its lyrics concern the Beach Pneumatic Transit, a precursor to the New York City subway conceived by 19th century American inventor Alfred Ely Beach.

In June 1974, Klaatu issued their second single: “Doctor Marvello” (Dale) b/w “For You Girl” (Long). It was produced by Terry Brown, the soundman behind the 1975–82 studio output of Rush. Both singles appeared on GRT Canada. In 1974, “Marvello” reappeared on the Brown-produced a-side “California Jam” (Dale). That and the 1975 a-side “True Life Hero” (Long) appeared on the Canadian Daffodil Records label (Christmas, Crowbar, A Foot In Cold Water, Fludd).

Klaatu became three with ex-Whitemail multi-instrumentalist Terry Draper. Their fifth a-side, “Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft)” appeared in February 1976 on Daffodil distributor GRT (b/w “Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III”). Daffodil president Frank Davies brokered them a stateside deal with Capitol Records.


3:47 E.S.T. [aka Klaatu]

Klaatu released their debut album, 3:47 E.S.T., on August 11, 1976, on Daffodil. The title refers to the time of day (3:45 pm Eastern Standard Time) in The Day the Earth Stood Still when the alien humanoid Klaatu arrives in Washington DC. In the US and overseas, Capitol issued the album as Klaatu.

3:47 E.S.T. gathers seven of their pre-released songs (some re-recorded) and one new track, “Little Neutrino,” an eight-minute Dee Long epic.

The album opens with the extended version of their recent a-side, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft,” a seven-minute epic by John Woloschuk and Terry Draper. Side A also contains both sides of their December 1973 debut single — “Anus of Uranus” (originally “Hanus of Uranus”) and “Sub-Rosa Subway” —  and the November 1974 a-side “California Jam.”

Side B collects Woloschuk’s June 1974 a-side “Doctor Marvello,” Long’s May 1975 a-side “True Life Hero,” and John’s recent b-side “Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III.”

Guitarist Long and bassist Woloschuk both play acoustic guitar, mellotron, and synthesizers on 3:47 E.S.T., which features further instrumentation by Dee (sitar, ukulele) and John (piano, organ).

A1. “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” (7:10) refers to an experiment conducted in March 1953 by the International Flying Saucer Bureau, whose members sent a telepathic message (in unison) to extra terrestrials.
A2. “California Jam” (3:03)
A3. “Anus of Uranus” (3:18)
A4. “Sub-Rosa Subway” (4:34) depicts the 1870 construction of the Beach Pneumatic Transit, which lasted three years as a NYC subway prototype before financial cuts halted the project. Klaatu created the harpsichord sound with a tack piano played into a tape recorder ran at half-speed.

B1. “True Life Hero” (3:24)
B2. “Doctor Marvello” (3:34)
B3. “Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III” (3:26)
B4. “Little Neutrino” (8:07)

Klaatu completed 3:47 E.S.T. in early 1976 after three years of work with co-producer Terry Brown, an English-born veteran of the freakbeat era (The Smoke, Bonzo Dog Band, Traffic, Alan Bown Set). In the timeframe of Klaatu’s first five singles, Brown also worked on albums by fellow Canadians April Wine, Dr. Music, Max Webster, Moe Koffman, Thundermug, and Rush, the Ontarian powertrio that released their first four albums in the gestation period of 3:47 E.S.T.

Musical guests on 3:47 E.S.T. include Doug Riley, a prolific Canadian string–woodwind arranger (Koffman, Kathryn Moses, Zwol) who plays xylophone on “Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III.” Select tracks feature saxist Vern Dorge (chimes on “Sub Rosa Subway”) and ex-Lighthouse trumpeter Bruce Cassidy (“Doctor Marvello”), both late-period members of Blood Sweat and Tears.

3:47 E.S.T. features cover art by ongoing Klaatu associate Ted Jones. It depicts a large phoebus that hovers over a soil strip with mushrooms, butterflies, and squirrels. The back cover shows a similar setting at night with a lunar backdrop.

As a single edit (3:23), “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” reached No. 45 on the Canada’s Top Singles chart and No. 62 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In September 1977, the Carpenters released a cover version on their eighth studio album, Passage. Their version reached No. 1 in Ireland and No. 9 in the UK and Canada.


Hope

Klaatu released their second album, Hope, on September 12, 1977, on Daffodil and Capitol. The songs chronicle an interplanetary mission.

Hope features two songs by Dee Long (“Madman,” “Around the Universe in Eighty Days”) and the group-written “Prelude.” John Woloschuk composed the album’s balance, including the a-sides “We’re Off You Know” and “The Loneliest of Creatures” and the nine-minute “Long Live Politzania.”

Long plays multiple guitars (electric, acoustic, slide, bass), keyboards (organ, clavinet, synth), and string instruments (sitar, mandolin). In addition to bass, Woloschuk plays acoustic guitar, autoharp, piano, pianet, organ, harmonium, Polymoog synthesizer, and Fender Rhodes electric piano.

A1. “We’re Off You Know” (4:01)
A2. “Madman” (2:39)
A3. “Around the Universe in Eighty Days” (4:59)
A4. “Long Live Politzania” (9:11) concerns a once-advanced civilization on a distant planet that destroyed itself in a massive war.

B1. “The Loneliest of Creatures” (3:44)
B2. “Prelude” (5:44)
B3. “So Said the Lighthouse Keeper” (5:51)
B4. “Hope” (4:44)

Klaatu recorded the album between June 1976 and June 1977 with Terry Brown, who produced and engineered Hope in sequence with albums by Rush (A Farewell to Kings) and Max Webster (High Class In Borrowed Shoes). They employed the London Symphony Orchestra for multiple parts but reduced their presence on the final album, which omits “Epilogue,” a brief track intended for Side B.

Ted Jones’ cover art depicts the ruins of Politzania with an abandoned palace–courtyard structure inspired by the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, a Thirties Art Deco structure in Toronto at the shore of Lake Ontario. The phoebus on the prior cover reappears as a cracked tile design at the bottom foreground. The back cover presents a nearby view of Politzania in deep winter fog (despite the visibility of the close red sun).

GRT|Capitol issued “We’re Off You Know” as a single in North America, Australia, and the UK (b/w “Around the Universe In 80 Days”). The b-side also appeared on a US Capitol promo release of “Madman.” In select markets, Capitol lifted “Hope” (Netherlands, b/w “We’re Off You Know”) and an edited version of “The Loneliest of Creature” (UK, b/w “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”).


Sir Army Suit

Klaatu released their third album, Sir Army Suit, on August 23, 1978, on Daffodil and Capitol.

Sir Army Suit features four songs by John Woloschuk and five by Dee Long. They co-wrote “Silly Boys,” the flanged-out closing track.

Woloschuk wrote the opener (“A Routine Day”), the two a-sides (“Juicy Luicy,” “Dear Christine”), and the xylophone-laden “Tokeymor Field.” He plays a mix of standard instruments (piano, organ, bass, acoustic guitar) and eclectic ones (bells, mellotron, synthesizer, clavinet).

Long wrote the core of Side A (“Everybody Took a Holiday,” “Older”) and the bulk of Side B (“Mister Manson,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” “Chérie”). He plays electric and acoustic guitar, plus synthesizer and drum machine.

A1. “A Routine Day” (3:11)
A2. “Juicy Luicy” (3:39)
A3. “Everybody Took a Holiday” (3:00)
A4. “Older” (3:17)
A5. “Dear Christine” (3:53)

B1. “Mister Manson” (4:16)
B2. “Tokeymor Field” (3:29)
B3. “Perpetual Motion Machine” (3:17)
B4. “Chérie” (3:07)
B5. “Silly Boys” (4:59)

Sessions for Long’s material took place in 1978 at Studio Sounds Interchange in Toronto, where Terry Brown produced Sir Army Suit in sequence with his other two main clients: Rush (Hemispheres) and Max Webster (Mutiny Up My Sleeve). Woloschuk reached into Klaatu’s early vaults for his contributions, some of which date to 1973.

Sir Army Suit features album art by Hugh Syme, whose visuals appear on recent albums by Aerial, Ian Thomas, and Rush. SAS shows Klaatu and their entourage walking on a valley trail. This marked the first time Klaatu indicated their likeness in the album art.

Daffodil lifted “Dear Christine” as a single (b/w “Older”), followed by “Juicy Luicy” (b/w “Perpetual Motion Machine”). In 1979, “A Routine Day” reappeared as a Canada-only white vinyl single (b/w “Silly Boys”).


Endangered Species

Klaatu released their fourth album, Endangered Species, in June 1980 on Daffodil and Capitol.

Endangered Species features four John Woloschuk songs: “Paranoia,” “Set the World on Fire,” “Sell Out, Sell Out,” and “All Good Things.” He co-wrote “Howl at the Moon” and “Knee Deep in Love” (the lead single) with onetime Whitemail bandmate Dino Tome.

Dee Long wrote “Hot Box City,” “Dog Star,” and “I Can’t Help It,” the second single. He plays the guitar solo on “Sell Out, Sell Out” but otherwise only sings on Endangered Species, which features standard instrumentation by Woloschuk (bass, keyboard, guitar) and Terry Draper (drums) with a host of studio players, including Section bassist Lee Sklar, Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Bond.

A1. “I Can’t Help It” (3:41)
A2. “Knee Deep in Love” (3:15)
A3. “Paranoia” (4:12)
A4. “Howl at the Moon” (3:32)

B1. “Set the World on Fire” (4:16)
B2. “Hot Box City” (3:48)
B3. “Dog Star” (4:17)
B4. “Sell Out, Sell Out” (4:55)
B5. “All Good Things” (1:57)

Sessions took place in Los Angeles with Bond, the onetime guitarist–singer of Philly psych-rockers Thunder and Roses. His sound credits include Seventies albums by Hall & Oates, Sons of Champlin, Freda Payne, and UPP. Apart from the “Sell Out” solo, Bond plays all guitar on Endangered Species, including the ARP Avatar synth guitar.

Endangered Species features thirteen credited guest musicians, including drummer Ed Greene; percussionists Gary Coleman and Bobbye Hall; and keyboardists Tom Hensley, Clarence McDonald, and Richard Kerr. Select tracks feature a three-piece horn section composed of trumpeter Chuck Findley (Don Menza Sextet, Peter Herbolzheimer Brass) and saxophonists Ernie Watts (Karma, Love Unlimited Orchestra) and Jim Horn (Lalo Schifrin Orchestra). “Hot Box City” features a saxophone solo by one of Lalo’s breakout stars, Tom Scott (LA Express).

Ted Jones supplied the cover art, which shows marine-life habitats above and below water at a lakeside setting; enclosed in wintergreen framework. The dome portion shows a masted wooden ship aflight with gold wings (a mascot that reappears on the LP labels). The back cover depicts underwater life within a similar half-spherical frame.

Capitol terminated Klaatu soon after Endangered Species hit the market. However, the label’s Canadian branch green-lit one further album on the proviso that they end their anonymity and face the public on a national tour.


Magentalane

Klaatu released their fifth album, Magentalane, on October 7, 1981, on Capitol (Canada only).

Side A contains three songs by John Woloschuk: “A Million Miles Away,” “The Love of a Woman” (both singles), and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home.” Another single, “December Dream,” is a rare co-write with Terry Draper.

Dee Long contributed two Side B numbers: “At the End of the Rainbow” and “Maybe I’ll Move to Mars.” Woloschuk co-wrote the album’s balance (including the title track) with outside collaborator Dino Tome.

Klaatu restore their creative autonomy on Magentalane, which features Long on Korg synthesizer and assorted string instruments (electric|slide guitar, mandolin) and Woloschuk on bass, acoustuc guitar, and assorted keyboards, pitch percussion (vibraphone, glockenspiel), and exotic extras (electric sitar, ocarina). In addition to drums, Draper plays trombone, tambourine, and Polymoog synthesizer.

A1. “A Million Miles Away” (3:39)
A2. “The Love of a Woman” (3:23)
A3. “Blue Smoke” (4:41)
A4. “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” (2:51)
A5. “December Dream” (4:20)

B1. “Magentalane” (2:35)
B2. “At the End of the Rainbow” (3:30)
B3. “Mrs. Toad’s Cookies” (3:06)
B4. “Maybe I’ll Move to Mars” (5:15)
B5. “Magentalane (…it feels so good)” (0:56)

Klaatu self-produced Magentalane between April and July 1981 at ESP Studios in Buttonville, Greater Toronto. They completed three tracks (“The Love of a Woman,” “December Dream,” “Maybe I’ll Move to Mars”) with a string section and auxiliary percussionists, including Irakere sideman Memo Acevedo. “The Love of a Woman” also features saxophonist John Johnson, a sessionist on 1980–81 albums by Estiban, Earth Wind & Fire, Fist, and Ian Thomas. Terry’s wife, Anna Draper, sings backing vocals on “Mrs. Toad’s Cookies.”

Magentalane was ESP’s inaugural recording project. Dee Long opened the studio with business partner John Jones, a future staffer at George Martin’s AIR Studios in London. They secured a budget Magentalane that afforded advanced arsenals at ESP, a subsequent recording site for Alice Cooper, Zappacosta, Rational Youth, and Glass Tiger.

Ted Jones references past Klaatu covers in the artwork for Magentalane, which shows the 3:47 E.S.T. phoebus half obscured between the sails of the Endangered Species ship, restructured here with four zeppelins and a windmill pole attached to an arch. The ship is affixed to a balancing blade that situates amid the shrubbery seen on earlier albums.

For “At The End of the Rainbow,” Long employed his side-group The Burgerheads: guitarist Dave Kennedy, bassist Ken Wannamaker, and drummer Frank Watt.

Klaatu promoted Magentalane with their only tour, supplemented by Wrabit keyboardist Gerald O’Brien, Toronto bassist Mike Gingrich, and ex-Max Webster drummer Gary McCracken.


Discography:


Sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *