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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Klaatu

3:47 E.S.T. 25th Anniversary Edition

Review by Gary Hill

This is the 25th Anniversary Edition of Klaatu's debut album. I'm guessing some fans in the US are saying, "but the title of that album was just 'Klaatu.'" That's true in the States, but for the rest of the world the album was 3:47 E.S.T. This album was the one that first introduced the sound of Klaatu with its Beatles go progressive rock bend. It also has two of their finest songs ever recorded in its opener and closer. While there are a couple numbers that don't work as well, there is enough killer material for the disc to hold up nicely. Add in the remastering that was done on this one to make it heads above the original release and this is a "must have" for anyone who has ever enjoyed Klaatu.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Calling Occupants (Of Interstellar Craft)
Starting with sound of nature and footsteps through the underbrush, a record player needle is dropped onto a platter and the song proper begins as the first verse is sung out. I have to say that in my opinion this is one of the greatest songs ever written. It really has everything going for it. A beautiful tentative arrangement with definite Beatles-like elements starts building the song gradually until a short nearly symphonic prog section takes it. Then it jumps back to the main song structure and an odd distorted voice comes in (again Beatlesesque) to represent the voice of the aliens. A crescendo gives way to a killer bouncing chorus that becomes very dramatic and oh so tasty. This eventually resolves into a symphonic crescendo that moves the cut back to its ambient introductory section. It works up quickly this time to a very satisfying instrumental segment to carry the themes back to a rising and falling chorus. The band work and rework this section in an incredibly powerful arrangement to carry it forward from there and eventually fade down to end - what a ride! This was the first song I ever heard from the band, and it hooked me on them. It's been covered at least twice (The Carpenters and Starpeople), and good as those two versions are, this one is the real deal.
California Jam
Acoustic guitar starts this poppy cut that seems to combine the sounds of the Beach Boys with the Beatles into a solid, if lightweight musical collage. This has never been a favorite of mine, but it's still fun and entertaining. Of course what could hold up after that potent disc opener?
Anus of Uranus
This is a bit off kilter, but still fairly straightforward sci-fi based good times rocker.
Sub Rosa Speedway
While this is not anything near the powerhouse that some of the other material here manages to be, it's definitely fun and tasty. It's basically a prog rock Beatles number. Lyrically it tells the story of the first subway. There is a lot happening on this one, and they pull it all off in a concise and brief number - that in itself is impressive.
True Life Hero
Rather crunchy, this is an almost punky rocker that feels at times a bit like Cheap Trick.
Dr. Marvello
This mysterious sounding proggy yet accessible cut is near sheer brilliance. It is without a doubt another highlight of the CD. It is also another great example of merging of those Beatles sounds into a pop rock song that is still full of progressive rock elements.
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
This banjo driven fun song has an old time sound - one like the Beatles occasionally dropped into. It just has never done a lot for me.
Little Neutrino
Like bookends, they open and close the album with two masterpieces. This sci-fi number is purely brilliant. With its bombastic arrangement and killer processed vocals this one is a definite winner. It has a wonderful arrangement that just keeps building up, seemingly in waves. This is certainly another of my favorite tracks from the band.
 
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