I Love that Album! #3: Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit (1978)

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

klaatu sir army suit cover“We all rose to the challenge,” Terry Draper says about “Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft),” Klaatu’s momentous signature song that opened the band’s debut album, 3:47 E.S.T., but he might as well have been referring to Sir Army Suit, the Canadian trio’s triumphant third album, released in August 1978 and now celebrating its 40th anniversary.

klaatu juicy luicy 45 labelThe challenge Terry, John Woloschuk and Dee Long were faced with, as they gathered to work on Sir Army Suit–really no challenge at all–was to write and record relatively short radio-friendly songs that would increase Klaatu’s marketplace footprint. And with wonderful nuggets such as “Juicy Luicy,” a catchy disco parody; “Tokeymor Field,” a hummable soft-pop romantic romp inspired by the music of the Young Rascals; and “Older,” a rocker about making time count before it’s gone, success should have been a fait accompli. And it was, for fans who held 3:47 E.S.T. and Hope, Klaatu’s previous two albums, dear.

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(l to r) John Woloschuk, Dee Long, and Terry Draper

John, Dee and Terry’s mandate was always to write and record songs that were different from each other, and for Sir Army Suit, they came up with their most diverse set yet. Songs about long getaways (“Everybody Took a Holiday”), the gift you didn’t know you needed (“Perpetual Motion Machine”), falling in love from a berth on the high seas (“Dear Christine”), and leading a humdrum existence (“A Routine Day”) were brought to life with fanciful, creative arrangements. Working with producer Terry Brown, the band’s George Martin, Klaatu delivered exactly what was called for– an album stocked full of unique treasures that is as enjoyable today as it was 40 years ago.

One of Sir Army Suit’s most engaging slices of songcraft is the cinematic number that opens the album. John’s majestic “A Routine Day,” about a man living possibly the most humdrum existence imaginable, offers up exquisite and complex chord progressions, one of the loveliest, most seductive melodies in Klaatu’s catalog, and a surprising Twilight Zone-esque ending, in which the hapless narrator waits on the pier, as one does, for Charon, the ferryman of Hades.

Then, there are the tremendous songs written by Dee Long, charming, melodic wonders all: the aforementioned “Everybody Took a Holiday” and “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “Older,” “Mr. Manson,” and “Cherie” (Dee also cowrote the wild sci-fi closer, “Silly Boys,” with John). “Cherie” may well be the loveliest of all of Dee’s creatures on this album:

Of course, a band is more than just one member’s vision; Sir Army Suit wouldn’t be the creative triumph it is without John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper working together to fuse their ideas into a successful whole. And, it cannot be said often enough that the trio, working together with Terry Brown, were collectively a tremendous close-knit, creative force.

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Sir Army Suit’s Back Cover

All of this sterling work came wrapped inside Hugh Syme’s beautiful, imaginative cover art that finally provided visual proof that the members of Klaatu had never been Beatles, even if the band members and fellow travelers depicted didn’t come with names attached. That would have to wait until Klaatu’s next album, Endangered Species.

Klaatu produced five albums in their relatively brief lifetime; all of them offer slices of hope and a little courage, but Sir Army Suit is perhaps the most courageous of all.

radio1Alan 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.

Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit Turns 40: A Pure Pop Radio Celebration

Pure Pop Radio celebrates the 40th anniversary of Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit with a weeklong celebration

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

You could pretty much claim that every year–go on, pick one!–was a good year for music, and regardless of your preferred genres, you would be right.

klaatu sir army suit coverWelcome, then, the year 1978, in which a number of influential, or simply beloved, albums were released, from the Who’s Who Are You, Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, and the Police’s Outlandos d’Amour to the Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings and Food, the Cars’ self-titled debut, and Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town. For melodic pop fans, and especially for fans for whom the Beatles are dearest, Klaatu’s diverse, thoroughly enjoyable third album, Sir Army Suit, was also king upon its release in August.

Sir Army Suit, which, on its cover, depicted Klaatu’s mysterious members as they walked with fellow travelers toward an equally mysterious destination, was the band’s third and perhaps best album, and one that came with a specific remit: increase Klaatu’s marketplace footprint with more radio-friendly songs. Different, in other words, from the band’s second album, the orchestrated conceptual collection, Hope (although the beautiful title song would have made a great single).

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(l to r) John Woloschuk, Terry Draper, and Dee Long

Tomorrow, as part of Pure Pop Radio’s very special weeklong celebration of Sir Army Suit on the occasion of the album’s 40th anniversary, I will take an in-depth look at Klaatu’s timeless third release in the latest edition of our popular feature, I Love that Album! On Wednesday, you will hear Klaatu’s John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper talk about Sir Army Suit in all-new audio interviews. On Thursday, the trio will talk about three of their favorite Klaatu songs. And on Friday, I will return with my list of Klaatu favorites.

I leave you now with Sir Army Suit’s brilliantly-written and performed opening salvo, “A Routine Day,” John Woloschuk’s story of a man who leads a humdrum life and is rewarded with a visit from none other than the ferryman of Hades. A neighborly tale, in other words.

Join us all this week, won’t you?

radio1Alan 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.

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation Podcasts: Klaatu’s Dee Long (Original Airdate: November 6, 2013; Rebroadcast June 13, 2018)

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Dee Long’s visit to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, first aired November 6, 2013, zeros in on Klaatu’s classic album Sir Army Suit, which is celebrating its 40th trip around the sun this year.

klaatu sir army suit coverDuring this rebroadcast of a classic program, Dee looked back at the making of Sir Army Suit and talked about three of his songs included on the album: “Everybody Took a Holiday,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “Cherie.” It’s fun to go in-depth on this classic album from one of the great melodic pop bands of all time

Listen to Dee’s songs played during this show on Spotify:

Purchase Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit at Amazon.

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pprListen to the rebroadcast of my interview with Klaatu’s Dee Long from the June 13 edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation (originally broadcast on 11-6-13) by clicking the play button on the following player, or click on the Pure Pop Radio button to the left to download (then right click and choose “Save audio as” to save the file to your computer). (This interview is presented in scoped format; the songs have been removed due to copyright concerns.)

 


Listen to a wide selection of previously-aired Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation interviews by clicking here.

ppr radio purple background - insetPure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop music from across the decades, 24 hours a day. Listen by clicking on the Live365 Listen Now button at left. Hear us once and you’ll be a listener for life. Join us, won’t you? You’ll be glad you did!