Received: Klaatu

Steve here,
Hey, I'd heard of Andrew Gold, but not The Fraternal Order Of The All. Thanks for the info and the link.

May I suggest that if you're going to include TFOOTA (did I get that right? ), that you're going to have to include KLAATU and before them the MASKED MARAUDERS? The latter started as a joke in Rolling Stone as if there was a super-group of some of the Beatles, Stones and Dylan. So, someone put it out. Do a little research and you'll see what I mean.

As for KLAATU, there was no pretense that they were the Beatles, but once the rumor got started by Steve Smith (not the "Red Green" Steve Smith) that they WERE the Beatles, there was no denial, at least not for four albums worth of material. The connections were make to the Beatles in a "Paul Is Dead" style (the musical style, the robot from Ringo's album, the sun from Harrison) but it was just three Canadians. If you can't get more info on them, and probably one or two videos, let me know and I'll see if I can find some for you. The first album produced the song Calling Occupant of Interplanetary Craft which was covered by the Carpenters. The second album took the theme of that song into a whole story of a planet destroyed by others for it's hubris. The London Symphony Orchestra performs with the group on the second album, which had to lend "evidence" that they were the Beatles. The cardboard cover of the LP was fantastic art and textured. Look carefully at the album's cover and you'll see that the sun from the first album's cover has been lain flat, then destroyed. Two more albums gave great Beatles-sounding songs, Mr. Manson, (H)anus of Uranus, I'll Never Have a Better Friend than You, and Silly Boys which has backward masking including (H)anus of Uranus. I didn't learn of a fifth until I moved to Canada in 1994. The band got together with fans (I couldn't go) in 2005 and performed songs. A DVD is to be released with some rarities. This should guide you a bit to find material.

Steve here
with more on Klaatu from a web page that threw in the picture behind the text here (
http://www.myspace.com/klaatutheband )

In the late '60's during a high school battle of the bands in Toronto, Terry Draper and John Woloschuk met Dee Long who was in the band the Polychromatic Experience as their keyboardist.

Long went on to join Bloodstone, while Draper and Woloschuk released one unpromoted single as Whitemail and when that band self-destructed, they remembered Long and invited him and another musician, Jamie Bridgman, to convene as Mudcow in 1971. The band lasted for about a year before exploding in late 1972 and the members went their separate ways. Long and Woloschuk continued to work together at Long's father's electronics factory where they hatched the idea of Klaatu.

Woloschuk had been working sessions at Toronto Sound for Terry Brown and he managed to convince Brown to produce Klaatu. The plan was to be a recording unit only and the duo was given carte blanche to record during the studio's downtime. Brown would develop the project, along with partner Doug Riley, and act as unofficial additional member of the band.

Klaatu recorded its first song starting January 1st, 1973 with Long's rocking "Hanus Of Uranus". Over the months a second track was completed, "Sub Rosa Subway" and Brown managed to get a 7" single released through GRT Records.

A second single later that year -- Woloschuk's "Dr. Marvello" backed with Long's "For You Girl" was also picked up by GRT. Long and Woloschuk up to this point had been using a session drummer, Whitey Glan, and soon realized that a permanent percussionist was needed if they were going to record any further, and in late 1974, Terry Draper was brought in and made his debut on the single "California Jam".

The single, released on Frank Davies' Daffodil Records was also distributed Stateside on Island Records. There was a bit of enthusiasm from some of the radio stations, but a small backlash was evident in comments from Canadian Content advocates who didn't hear a Canadian 'sound' on the Beach Boyish sounding song. Through the connection of Terry Brown's partner and Klaatu arranger Doug Riley (Dr. Music), the band landed its only TV appearance ever by doing "California Jam" and a new song, "True Life Hero", on Keith Hampshire's Music Machine in November 1974.

The actual single of "True Life Hero" would follow in the summer of 1975 and Klaatu again got the same reaction -- not Canadian enough. Klaatu didn't care...they were recording records their own way and if it sounded British or American than so be it.

Meanwhile, Daffodil president Frank Davies was spending his time trying to land the band a major label deal. There was only one problem...Klaatu had decided they didn't want to appear in public, play live or give interviews to support their productions. A very tall order indeed, but eventually Capitol Records USA signed the band, having never met any of the members, and their eponymous debut ('3:47 EST' in Canada) was released in August 1976.

The reaction was one of mild curiosity, but it did not fair well in the sales department. By the end of the year the band had resigned themselves to the fate of the first album and pressed on with recording an appropriate follow-up.

They decided on a weighty space concept album called 'Hope' and proceeded to England at the beginning of 1977 to have the London Symphony add their orchestrations to some Doug Riley arrangements.

By March, Klaatu were to deliver the finished album to Capitol Records, despite Klaatu not being entirely happy with the final product. They turned over the record but not before an insanity had begun sweeping over the US radio waves. Steve Smith of the Providence Rhode Island Journal had hypothetically declared Klaatu the official reunion of the Beatles and the first album had started gaining national interest. Radio station switchboards began lighting up as everyone wanted to hear more from this mystery band with no identities.

A virtual mania ensued as the original 'Klaatu' sold out pressing after pressing...the hysteria gave Capitol moment to pause and decided to delay the release of 'Hope'. As an entire nation (plus Australia and Canada) had lost their minds, Klaatu were given the opportunity to rework the tracks on 'Hope' to make them more presentable.

The furor over Klaatu's identity died by the summer of 1977 and Klaatu once again became the subject of much discussion as adult pop duo The Carpenters remade Klaatu's lengthy and far out Sci-Fi opus "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft".

Within weeks, the Carpenters album 'Passages' featuring the song, and Klaatu's 'Hope' LP were riding the same charts. 'Hope' gained critical acclaim, but, alas the record sold poorly. The decade was quickly drawing to a close and Klaatu seemed stuck in a Star Wars/Star Trek motif while the rest of the world were becoming punks or John Travolta Studio 54 wannabes.

Klaatu was at an impasse. The success of their poppier tunes on the first album was definitely an allure, especially if Klaatu wanted to maintain a living as songwriter/performers so the third album was designated a proper pop record.

During the recording process, Terry Brown and Klaatu had a dispute and the band let him go. Their financial troubles deepened as assets were frozen following Brown's contention of breech of contract. The pressure of producing an opus as grandiose as 'Hope' had exhausted Woloschuk and so, he gave Long a free reign to have more songs on 'Sir Army Suit' (only two tunes of Long's appeared on 'Hope'). Long found himself not only a songwriter/guitarist but also producer, engineer on nearly half the album's tracks.

Meanwhile, an animation company in Toronto thought they had the solution to Klaatu's lack of visibility and offered to create a full-length movie of the 'Hope' album. Capitol and the band found this impractical and instead agreed to let Shadow Productions produce an animated TV special featuring 4 songs from the upcoming album and two Klaatu classics: "Calling Occupants" and "Sub Rosa Subway".

'Sir Army Suit' was delayed nearly 9 months and despite having 3 singles released from it, including "A Routine Day" with its Shadow Productions animated video (a Canadian first), the album did not sell. Radio refused to support Klaatu's 'secret identity' stance any longer -- after all, hadn't they been sucked into the whole 'Klaatu Is The Beatles' affair the previous year? Radio wanted Klaatu as allies but Klaatu wasn't budging -- interviews were only granted in anonymity by John Woloschuk himself. Alas, the album didn't even chart in Canada.

Capitol Records by this time were increasingly tired of being told what to do by one of their own acts and threatened to pull the plug on the band unless they shipped up and delivered a radio friendly contemporary record. To ensure their wishes would be met they took over the entire recording process from these veteran studio musicians.

Barely able to afford to make demos, Klaatu were handed over to producer Christopher Bond who chose Klaatu's songs for recording, flew them to LA for 4 months at the end of 1979 and hired studio musicians Lee Sklar and Ed Greene to replace not only Draper in the recording process but, on many of the overdubs of Woloschuk and Long, Bond himself played guitar.

While in LA, Klaatu tracked down Shadow Productions to see how the full-length animation special was coming and it was hopelessly incomplete due to lack of funds. Several deadlines for airing it on television had come and gone and the timeliness of the material seemed outdated. To this day "Happy New Year, Planet Earth" remains unreleased.

Meanwhile Klaatu's 4th album, 'Endangered Species', was released and deleted almost immediately due to the administrative changes going on at the time within Capitol LA. Klaatu's record deal expired shortly thereafter. While in contractual limbo, Draper and Long formed a touring Top-40 cover band called FUNN which featured Gerald O'Brien (Nightwinds, Surrender, The Hunt) and, briefly, Lawrence Gowan.

Not willing to throw in the towel on a bad note (the band members distanced themselves from 'Endangered Species'), Klaatu negotiated a new deal with Capitol's field office in Canada. They would agree to finance and release a 5th LP on the condition that the band reveal their secret identities and go on tour. Klaatu reluctantly agreed, but only under the condition that it be recorded at the band's own studio -- Long's ESP which he had opened with John Jones (Duran Duran, Alan Frew, Fleetwood Mac).

'Magentalane' was Klaatu's swan song and was released in late 1981 to co-incide with the band's first and only tour. They rehearsed for 6 weeks in a Toronto office building and hired keyboardist Gerald O'Brien (Surrender, The Hunt, Nightwinds), bassist Mike Gingrich (Toronto), and drummer Gary McCracken (Max Webster) to augment their own trio.

The first leg of the tour, in November and December 1981, was opening for Prism. Bruce Allen, Prism's manager at the time, laughed openly at the band advising them that they were going to get chewed up and spit out. Klaatu, as it turned out, stole the show at nearly every gig (Prism would split up shortly after). Draper acted as frontman/keyboardist to Woloschuk's quiet lead vocal/piano. And Long doubled on guitar and keyboards as well.

With the opening slot under their belts, Klaatu learned more songs for a series of club dates around Ontario's Golden Horseshoe. But not before the departure of founding member Dee Long who was more interested in running his own studio than performing. Gerald O'Brien also left to re-join his old Surrender bandmate Alfie Zappacosta on his solo material. O'Brien was replaced by Max Webster's Terry Watkinson and Long was replaced by guitarist Dave Cooper (Tom Cochrane)

The club dates continued as the band criss-crossed the province throughout 1982 with occasional jaunts into Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. McCracken would leave to join Wrabit in the summer time and was replaced by drummer Marty Morin (Goddo, Wireless).

Alas, the cost of keeping 6 musicians on the road, the lack of high profile shows, and dwindling support from Capitol Records led Klaatu to abandon ship in August 1982. Woloschuk and Draper called it quits and Frank Davies had Capitol release a posthumous 'best of' called 'Klaasic Klaatu'.

Woloschuk briefly worked with touring keyboardist Terry Watkinson on songs that never reached fruition. He did successfully record a children's album called 'Robotman' with producer Peter Shelley. Woloschuk stopped working in music in 1984 and went back to school and is now a successful music industry accountant.

Dee Long and John Jones picked up their successful ESP studios and moved to London, England to work in the midi division of Sir George Martin's Air Studio. There, the two would get to the chance to engineer albums by Britains rock and roll elite, including Paul McCartney, David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler among others.

Terry Draper formed a lounge duo with singer Jacqui Kroft before hanging up his keyboard to work steady as a roofer.

In 1987 a TV production company in Germany required some work done on its hit Cop show 'Tatort', and the producer had just the song. Long thought it would be an easy project for Klaatu to knock off...and the money would help relieve some outstanding debts. The band briefly reunited in January 1988 to record "Woman" which was released as a single, but the song was a disappointing comeback and the band returned to their lives as before.

1991 found Long packing up his gear and heading back to Canada for a proposed Klaatu reunion on the upcoming 'Peaks' hits package that was intended to have several brand new songs on it. This was not to be as the band was in a contractual battle with its new Canadian distributor, BEI.

A full blown Klaatu revival began in 1995 as Permanent Press Recordings in the US was the first American label to issue 'Magentalane' anywhere other than Canada. Korea followed suit and the CD began climbing the charts from the active resuscitation of progressive music in the Pacific Rim.

Klaatu still maintains healthy enthusiasm from the fanbased Klaatu Audiophile Appreciation Society (KAAS) and royalties from appearances of their songs on CD compilations globally.

In recent years the band's entire catalogue has been digitally remastered and re-issued in Canada on Bullseye Records. Both Draper and Long have gone on to lucrative independent solo careers.

On May 7, 2005 Klaatu's original three members appeared at the KAAS fan gathering called Klaatu*Kon 2005: World Contact Day and performed six songs with the assistance of backing vocalist Maureen Leeson to celebrate the release of the 2CD anthology "Sun Set: 1973-1981". The band also released a vinyl version of the set with alternate mixes called "Raarities".

Footage and audio from this event will be released as part of a DVD project in late 2008 on Bullseye Records.

1 comment:

Dan Buskirk said...

I remember a Philadelphia radio station running an hour special on whether Klaatu were the Beatles, listing clues and playing songs from the first record. As a kid who had just learned all the "Paul is Dead" clues, it was a lot of titillating fun.