The 1976 song “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” by Klaatu showed up on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist this week. I had never heard it before, and it is an epic piece of weird prog rock. It’s entirely of it’s time and amazing in it’s execution.
My first listen was weird enough to prompt me to do some research.
It seems that when Klaatu released 3:47 EST, the album containing “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” (and their first album ever in fact), the liner notes very unusually contained zero information about the band members themselves — no names, writing, or instrument credits. In the vacuum, and with Beatles reunion rumors swirling in the zeitgeist, the public decided that Klaatu must be an anonymous Beatles reunion album. The mysterious band did nothing to dissuade people. Albums sales soared.
Of course, Klaatu wasn’t the Beatles.
When listeners eventually caught on, record sales plummeted and the band eventually broke up.
An interesting story, but! A fake Beatles reunion isn’t even the weirdest thing down this rabbit hole. For my money, that credit has to go to the cover version released one year later in 1977…
… by The Carpenters.
I admit that my familiarity with The Carpenters’ discography is (and remains) limited, but the juxtaposition of making contact with aliens and the soft, gentle sounds that produced “Close to You” is simply jarring.
Plus that’s one weird video.