Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Your Mind, You Have Capacities, You Know

Occasionally I do the listeners' advisory thing and tell my readers about great music that I like, which means that you should, too.  Everybody likes what Cauli likes, after all.

If you happened to be around at the time, as I was in one of my earlier nine lives, you might recall the beginning of World Contact Day, which began on March 15, 1953.  On that date, at a preset time, people all around the world attempted to simultaneously communicate telepathically with extraterrestrials.  The message began, "Calling occupants of interplanetary craft . . ."

Klaatu Greeting Earth
(From The Day the Earth Stood Still [1951])

The early 1950s, of course, was the heyday of UFO sightings, and the popular science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was still fresh in people's minds.  The film, which remains one of the most intelligent science fiction movies ever made, was directed by Robert Wise, who grew up in Winchester, Indiana, and who directed other sci-fi classics such as The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), as well as musicals such as The Sound of Music (1965).  The space race between the United States and the (then) U.S.S.R. during the late 1950s through the moon landing in 1969 prompted many of us youngsters to ponder what it would be like to be the first kitty in space.  Well, I did, anyway.

Plus, we thought about life on other planets and what it would be like to make "first contact."  It was an occasionally popular theme for musicians.  I've used a few of those songs, such as "Mr. Spaceman" by the Byrds and "Rocket Man" by Elton John, as musical closers to my postings.  I might also have used "Come Sail Away," by Styx, but I didn't think of it until just now.

I'm talking about all this because this afternoon I happened to listen to the CD 3:47 E.S.T., which, if memory serves, was the exact time mentioned in The Day the Earth Stood Still when Klaatu, the extraterrestrial emissary, arrived on earth.  The album was originally released in 1976 by the band Klaatu, which based much of its recorded work upon the movie's premise.

Klaatu Promotional Photo
 (© 1982, 1996, 1997 Deborah Samuels)

Klaatu (whose official website is here) performed in a Beatlesque style that also paid tribute to other popular groups from the 1960s, such as the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd (the early, Syd Barrett days), the Moody Blues, and others.  Klaatu's engineering was extraordinary, and they achieved amazingly sophisticated sound for the 1970s.  The band instrumentally sounded enough like the Beatles to prompt an American disc jockey to declare that it was the Beatles playing incognito.  This seemed outrageous, especially when one listened to the lyrical content of 3:47 E.S.T.--which was clearly not Beatlesque--but the musical phrasing was sufficiently reminiscent to lend some credibility to the supposition.  Professors at Indiana University School of Music declared that they had isolated a track of Paul McCartney's voice in Klaatu songs "California Jam" and "Sub-Rosa Subway," and Scowl-Face, surely in an unlikely role, recognized phrasing borrowed directly from a George Harrison tune on the Yellow Submarine album.  Klaatu subsequently denied that any of this similarity was deliberate, although they acknowledged their predecessors' influences.  (Who wasn't influenced by the Beatles?  I mean, come on!  You can't hold that against Klaatu.)

You have probably never heard any of Klaatu's songs, but I'd like to remedy that now.  These are some pretty fine tunes, if I do say so myself.

"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft"
by Klaatu, from the album 3:47 E.S.T.

"Sub-Rosa Subway"
by Klaatu, from the album 3:47 E.S.T.

"True Life Hero"
by Klaatu, from the album 3:47 E.S.T.

"California Jam"
by Klaatu, from the album 3:47 E.S.T.

3:47 E.S.T. is probably Klaatu's best known album, but the group released five (maybe more) albums altogether, and the work has a considerable fan base worldwide even today.

Well, I've got to run.  E.T. has phoned home, and his starship has arrived to take him away.  Me, too.

First Famous Feline in Space,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Musical News Beat

P.S.  Okay, it's as good a time as any to present "Come Sail Away," by Styx, from the album The Grand Illusion (1977).  The song's about extraterrestrials, too, somewhere after the instrumental middle break.

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