By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Picking your favorite songs by your favorite artists can sometimes be a fairly unreliable exercise, because your three favorites today might be totally different tomorrow.
Nevertheless, John Woloschuk, Dee Long, and Terry Draper were happy to play the favorite songs game when I spoke with them recently. Each of them chose three Klaatu favorites, and here they are, along with three of my favorites because, well, I wanted to play, too (my choices appear at the bottom of this page) (right-click on the audio streams to save them to your computer).
And with today’s post, we wind up our weeklong celebration of Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit, released 40 years ago this month. It’s been a lot of fun walking down memory lane; we hope you’ve had as good a time as we have.
And now, without further ado, here are five of my favorite Klaatu songs (“Sub-Rosa Subway,” from 3:47 E.S.T., resides in its own little exalted corner of my brain and so does not appear here):
- “Blue Smoke” | Magentalane (1981)
Originally titled “The List of Endangered Species,” this blazing rocker from Klaatu’s fifth and final album features particularly perky piano, John Woloschuk’s sitar, and Terry Draper’s stylish slide trombone, and rocking guitars too (crunchy and otherwise), all dressed up in the band’s usual fanciful wrapping. (John talks about this song here.)
- “All Good Things” | Endangered Species (1980)
Short (under two minutes) and particularly sweet, this wistful, acoustic song, last in the running order on the Endangered Species album, also has an interesting story (John tells the tale here). Surely one of John’s prettiest melodies.
- “Hope” | Hope (1977)
The glorious second Klaatu album’s closing and title song sports another of John’s prettiest melodies and offers up as positive a message as anyone could summon. Note the creative bass line that perfectly complements the melody. John told me that when he wrote this song, he was working above his pay grade. “When faith gives way to fear/When motivation disappears/All is lost if one abandons hope,” he sings. Words for every beating heart.
- “Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft)” | 3:47 E.S.T. (1976)
This signature song, a grand statement if ever there was one, leads off Klaatu’s eclectic first album. Anything I could say here would be superfluous, especially since John and Terry, who co-wrote the song, speak so eloquently about it in their interviews posted above (Dee also talks about it). I will say, however, that any song that preaches friendship–even friendship across the galaxies–is okay in my book.
- “Perpetual Motion Machine” | Sir Army Suit (1978)
Dee Long’s sprightly toe-tapper about the gift you didn’t know you needed is one of four solo written numbers on Sir Army Suit (he cowrote “Silly Boys” with John). What it’s really about, though, is anyone’s guess, but its lyrics speak to the collector in me (“You can have one today just send right away/We deliver right to your home”), so I’ll go with that.
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.
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