Endangered Species

Here are questions regarding the Endangered Species album, along with answers from John Woloschuk.

These were asked at the beginning of March, 2006 and answers arrived by mail in May, 2006.

Frank DeBlasi (fdablast@rog...) asked:
FD: Question: I don't have a question so much about the songs ON the Endangered Species album.  I am curious about the songs left OFF the album.  I read that 25 songs were prepared, including one called Endangered Species.

Is there any hope of hearing, or at least reading the lyrics to the songs that didn't make the cut?

BTW I actually prefer the Sunset version of All Good Things.

JW: In answer to Frank DeBlasi's question dated March 3, 2006, here is a list of seven demoed songs that were left OFF the "Endangered Species" album:

* The group's 1979 demo recording of "There's Something Happening" is included on Klaatu's "SunSet" CD which was released in May 2005 by Bullseye Records of Canada.

+ A modified version of the group's 1979 demo recording of "All Over Morocco" is included on Terry Draper's solo CD entitled "Civil War", which was released by Bullseye Records of Canada.

# The song "List of Endangered Species" was originally intended as a possible candidate for Klaatu's fourth album, but in the end was not submitted to producer Chris Bond for consideration. In 1981 a revised version of the song retitled "Blue Smoke" appeared on Klaatu's fifth studio album, "Magentalane".

Frank, in answer to your request to read some lyrics, reproduced below for your perusal is an excerpt from the lyric of "Tribute to Walt Disney". The song was written (during a momentary lapse of judgement) in a country and western style (think "Act Naturally") which explains why producer Chris Bond didn't think it was an appropriate choice for Klaatu's fourth album. (and he was right!)

Sometimes I wish I could have known Walt Disney
He seemed the kind of man you'd wanna meet
And if I could I'd thank him in person
For helping make my childhood so complete
They say he was a man of great devotion
The kind less gifted men could only scorn
The happiness of millions was his purpose
And the sound of children's laughter his most treasured reward.

He could make us laugh, he could make us cry
He let us see the funny side of life
And he moulded dreams for every girl and boy
But no, there will never be...another Disney.

Copyright 1979 Magentalane Music Limited
Reproduced with Permission

Submitted by Dave Bradley:
Q1: When you arrived in L.A. were the bed tracks already recorded by the studio musicians that had been brought in by the producer, or did you get to be involved in those recording sessions?

A1: We arrived in Los Angeles on December 2, 1979. The recording sessions for the bed tracks began a week or so later at Sound Lab studios. Chris Bond hired two studio musicians whom he had used on previous projects: Eddie Green (drums) and Lee Sklar (bass guitar). Dee and I played on the bed tracks accompanied by the two session players, repeating our performances from the demo recordings. For example, on "Sell Out, Sell Out" I played Hohner pianet while Dee performed on his Fender Stratocaster guitar. The two sidemen read from sheet music which Chris Bond had transcribed from the demo recordings with some added variations. After all of the bed tracks had been completed, I overdubbed my Rickenbacker bass guitar onto two of the tracks ("Sell Out, Sell Out" and "Howl At the Moon") and Chris Bond overdubbed his electric guitar (which I think was a Gibson Les Paul) on all the tracks except one ("All Good Things"). When the dust settled virtually all of the lead guitar that appears on the finished recordings was performed by Chris Bond. The one exception was Dee's "squawk box" guitar solo on "Sell Out, Sell Out".

Q2: Are the backing vocals Klaatu or are they others hired by the producer?

A2: Most of backing vocals on the "Endangered Species" album were performed by Klaatu members, either individually or collectively. Chris Bond also sang backup vocal on several tracks,  most notably providing the low-pitched voice on the "Crank up that funk machine" lyric in "Sell Out, Sell Out". No other outside vocalists performed on any of the tracks.

Q3: Do you have any specific recollections about the recording of any of the songs?  Some of the most interesting information for me personally about the Klaatu Track Facts that you send are the remarks section on the first page. I enjoy reading the stories and hearing some of the inside information connected to a recording. I’d love to hear anything at all that you can remember about the recording sessions for these songs. 

A3: I enjoyed the one session we had at the studio situated in the basement of the Capitol Tower. Terry Draper took some 35mm photographs there while the orchestral strings were being recorded for the album. Another highlight was Tom Scott's virtuoso performance for the sax solo in "Hot Box City". One final anecdote has nothing to do with any of the songs but is worth mentioning. It was common knowledge at the studio that we came from Canada (eh!). During our stay in Los Angeles, the Iran hostage crisis was going on and references to it were everywhere: on talk radio, on billboards, and even on car bumper stickers. When some Americans were secretly smuggled out of Iran by the Canadian embassy in Tehran, it was very big news indeed. On the morning following their rescue, our arrival at the studio was greeted with applause from all the staff who stood and cheered as we passed by their offices on our way to the control room. Unexpected as it was, we were momentarily caught off guard until we realized they were expressing their gratitude to Canada.

Q4: Were you there the day that Sir Rupert did his piece over the phone for Sell Out, Sell Out?

A4: We were in the studio with producer Chris Bond on the day that Rupert Perry spoke the "peddle yourself" lyric over the telephone for "Sell Out, Sell Out". I'm sure Rupert (who at that time was the Director of A&R at Capitol Records) could read between the lines but still he went along with our little "in joke". The original uncut recording of the telephone conversation between Rupert Perry and producer Chris Bond is included on Klaatu's "SunSet" CD which was released by Bullseye Records of Canada.

Q5: While I understand that you don’t have access to the track sheets and multitrack tapes, do you recall any unusual instruments used on the recordings? 

A5: The only "unusual" instruments that I can recall being used on the album were a calliope which was hired for the instrumental break in "All Good Things" and an antique cash register that we dropped handfuls of coins into for the sound effects in "Sell Out, Sell Out". Also, the lead guitar on "Howl At the Moon" was performed by Chris Bond on a synth-guitar.

Q6: Do you recall what brands/models of instruments you and Dee played on these sessions? 

A6: As far as I can recall, Dee used his Fender Stratocaster guitar for all of the songs he performed on. The musical instruments that I played included the following:

Q7: I recall when I first heard “I Can’t Help It” that I thought it sounded very much like the Beach Boys’ style.  What can you tell us about the recording of that song?  Did the vocal harmonies come about because of any influence by the Beach Boys (or any other specific group)?

A7: Neither Terry Draper or myself were involved with the recording of "I Can't Help It" either as a demo or in the studio, so Dee would probably be the best person to answer your queries about this song. Aside from the bed tracks, the bulk of the recording for this song was done on sessions where we were not needed and so we used to drop Dee off at the studio in the morning and then go sightseeing for the day, returning to the studio later to collect Dee. The vocals reminding you of the Beach Boys' style may be due to the fact that some of the song's lyrics (including the opening lines) are sung in falsetto.

Q8: I recall reading that one or two of the songs weren’t demoed ahead of time because they weren’t written until you were in L.A.   Were these written in L.A. because you needed more songs for the album or was it just a matter of you were constantly writing and came up with some material that would be good for the album?

A8: Two of the songs that appear on the "Endangered Species" album (i.e. "I Can''t Help It" and "Knee Deep In Love") were not included among the group's demo recordings that were auditioned by producer Chris Bond during his visit to Toronto in the fall of 1979. However both of these songs had been written by the time we flew down to Los Angeles in early December 1979. A demo of "Knee Deep In Love" was recorded in November 1979 and delivered to Chris Bond shortly after our arrival in L.A.

Q9: Was the writing experience in L.A. different than in Toronto?  Were you working under a different type of pressure or time constraint or was the writing more or less the same as other songs you had written?

A9: I don't recall writing any songs or recording any demos while we were in L.A.

And one question NOT about Endangered Species:

Submitted by Dave Bradley:

DB: I also have a question that’s NOT connected to Endangered Species.  Having heard the beautiful version of California Jam on SunSet that has the backing vocals, but not the lead vocal, I’ve got to ask who did the vocal arrangements?  That is absolutely beautiful to listen to!  Were the vocal parts worked out by you, Dee and Terry or did someone else work with you on those?

JW: The version of "California Jam" that appears on the "SunSet" CD is a reference mix of the backup vocals that were recorded on June 6, 1974 at Toronto Sound Studios. I had originally written the vocal arrangements for this recording in late May 1974. These were later refined at Terry Draper's former residence in Buttonville where we made test recordings of our rehearsals using a Sony 7" reel-to-reel tape recorder. While we were recording the backup vocals at the studio, producer Terry Brown came up with yet another vocal part which does appear on this version. The lead vocals were recorded on June 14, 1974 and then a revised arrangement of the backup vocals was recorded again on June 28, 1974 . These two subsequent sessions may account for the absence of Terry Brown's vocal part on both the 1974 single mix and the 1975 album mix. At the time these vocal recordings were made, we were working in 16-track format and all of the instrumentation has already been recorded onto several of the tracks, so the number of tracks available for recording the various vocal parts was somewhat limited.

©2006 David Bradley / John Woloschuk