With the release of each succeeding album, Klaatu has indeed delivered music that, true to the group's initial promise stands on it's own merits. KLAATU's third and latest LP, Sir Army Suit (August 1978), is a brilliant, tuneful set marking the latest stage in the evolution of the band's vast collective songwriting, vocal, instrumental and production talent.
Although caricatures of KLAATU's members appear on Sir Army Suit's jacket, KLAATU maintains the anonymity surrounding the identities of it's individual members, just as the group has since Capitol in the U.S. signed them (through their representative, Frank Davies) and bought the completed master tape released as the group's debut LP ("3:47 E.S.T." in Canada, "Klaatu" throughout the rest of the world) in August 1976.
All that's known about KLAATU is what was known in August 1976 -- that KLAATU is a self-contained, four member group based in Canada, that the band took its name from the character Michael Rennie portrayed in the 1951 sci-fi classic "The Day The Earth Stood Still".
KLAATU's first album was a collection of eight original songs subtly tied together by a concept that related to travel and communication in the past, present and future on a planet named Klaatu (as depicted on the obverse of the LP cover), which was intended to resemble Earth and therefore to forecast our planet's possible destiny.
Throughout the media fascination with KLAATU's identity, ath ran rampant in the early months of 1977, the group continued recording its second LP while maintaining its incommunicado stance. Davies, faced with unrelenting questions from tenacious music journalists, re-interated (sic) once and for all that KLAATU was not The Beatles and that there was no connection between the two groups or their individual members. By that time, though, America had discovered KLAATU, and began respecting the group and its music for what they were, not what they might be.
Hundreds of thousands of fans later, KLAATU returned in September 1977 with their second album, Hope, a thematically-linked science fiction fantasy which KLAATU (through Davies) characterized as the second chapter of the story begun on the first album. Hope plotted the course of a group of space travellers who visited the remnants of a distant planet (the same one that blew up in the first album's story line). The visitors found the highly advanced Politzanian civilization had been devastated by the same explosion that wiped out the Planet, yet amid the ruins the visitors saw a lighthouse, manned by the planet's sole survivor, beaming a laser flare to warn travellers of the solar reef. The keeper of the light, they found, had been searching all his life for a philosophy, prayer or phrase that might help bring eternal peace. The lightkeeper, near death, spoke his last word: Hope.
And now, with Hope's interstellar forays completed, Klaatu has returned to Earth with its third album, Sir Army Suit, a collection of ten songs which deal for the most part with more terrestrial human experiences. Sir Army Suit covers a lot of musical territory, too; its songs range from ballads to rockers, and KLAATU's rapid maturity in musicianship, instrumental and vocal arrangement and production sparkles throughout. The album's tracks are littered with pleasant surprises.
The album opens with "A Routine Day", a soft and melodic pop tune with pensive lyrics lamenting the humdrum nature of a working person's experience. "Juicy Luicy", a bouncy ode to a rock 'n' roll woman of the future, is propelled by an infectious organ riff, honking ensemble saxes and creative lead and backing vocals. KLAATU with tongue firmly planted in cheek, parody the Disco craze. A mid-tempo rocker with classical flavorings, "Everybody Took A Holiday" is a retrospective view of working life in the 1980's as seen from a time in the future. "Older" is a hard-edged (both musically and lyrically) look at growing older. Closing out the first side is "Dear Christine", a beautiful ballad of love.
Side Two opens with "Mister Mansion", a hard-rocking tune about two highly controversial figures of the Sixties -- Charles Manson ("...he'll take a thing called love and make you hate it...") and Tim Leary ("...tell me won't you Mr. Leary / keep your little pills...") -- with great production touches (percussion, ringing bells, backward tape, etc.). By contrast, the light, airy "Tokeymore (sic) Field" relives simple childhood pleasures, such as frolicking in a meadow with a loved one. "Perpetual Motion Machine" is an uptempo acoustic rocker with smoothly textured, somewhat spacey vocals and synthesizer arrangements, and lyrically it's an update of Simon and Garfunkle's "Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine". Next is "Cherie", a neo-Baroque love song with string quartet and harpsichord instrumentation. Closing Sir Army Suit is "Silly Boys", a bizarre shuffle rocker that pulls together many aspects of KLAATU's studio sorcery -- flanged vocals singing backward, sound effects and a sustained sitar chord on the fade, for example.
While Sir Army Suit is an album of songs rather than a concept album, Frank Davies has commented that "Klaatu is attempting to extend the ground that was already broken in landmark productions such as Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. There's a prevailing feeling that a lot of contemporary so-called progressive music lacks feeling... you've got to combine that basic soul of early rock 'n' roll with (the) latest production techniques and ideas without losing that vital feeling. KLAATU wants to bring back a little excitement with Sir Army Suit, and even though the members' identities are still unknown, the band's collective musical and lyrical strength and identity has transcended the sum of its parts. KLAATU's music truly does speak for itself.