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1 stars You can hear a lot of cynicism and disillusion in this work. Obviously if Klaatu were the Beatles, this would be their "Let It Be". Not at all up to the level of the 3 previous efforts. Nothing here really worth noting, except for die hard fans like myself.
Report this review (#4280)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars 2,5 stars really!!

If you thought SAS was bad - given the context of Hope - wait till you get a load of this baby. Why Klaatu was unhappy about the artwork of their previous album is a mystery to me, but if they were happy with this one, it will be that the misunderstanding between Klaatu and me is growing to ocean-size. Do not get me wrong here, Ted Jones's work is hardly bad, on the contrary, but it shows well that the group was persevering away from the mythological planet Klaatu, and Jones's previous two album sleeves were being forgotten about.

As far as the music is concerned, we are dealing with the same uninventive pop that was present on the previous SAS, not even really reminding us of 10 CC or others, but sometimes going in the directions of The Cars or XTC. Howl At The Moon is your best shot at knowing a track from this album and it might just be the highlight of the album with , but the lightbulbs, they-need-a-changing. Hot Box City and Dog Star were also small radio airplay time receiver, but Sell Out is so much understated, that it becomes a bloody parody, giving the fans of the early albums a sour taste in the mouth.

The songs might actually be stronger than on SAS certainly more inventive, but definitely there is nothing for a proghead in here. Just a bunch of pop-rock tunes, that are not bad, but simply outside the scope of this site. Overall a better album than its predecessor, but also so much more than its successor.

Report this review (#4281)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars To view at this album through prog-eyes, its awefull, no prog elements are in there, its "only" a pop album, but on the the way, reducing the view only on the songs as they are its a little different. Especially "All good things" is a real perl, very beautiful! Compared with EST or HOPE, ES fails, but just listen to the songs and dont think on their first two albums, you might find some good or even beautiful moments on this album.
Report this review (#4283)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is one of the most intriguing chapters in the Klaatu saga -- their disasterous 4th LP was recorded in L.A. (they did the rest in their hometown Toronto) with a hotshot producer who was supposed to turn them into hitmakers (he produced Hall & Oates after all!!) Drummer Terry Draper is relegated to a backup singer in favor of soulless studio mercenary, oh the indignities just go on and on.

Needless to say, the result is one of the most appalling sell-outs of all time. So much so that the tortured process of selling your soul is the actual subject matter of many of the songs here -- on the song "Sell Out, Sell Out" most obviously, but also numbers like "Paranoia" and "Set The World On Fire" (which is not about "getting famous" but rather using arson as revenge against the whole stupid world!!) I think poor John Woloschuck (their main songwriter) may have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown writing the songs for this album.

So I give this 2 stars, "for fans/completists" -- if you find Klaatu's other LP's of interest, this record is worth investigation for it's place in their history. But as music to enjoy -- ugh, it's pretty bad 1980 LA hackwork, like the Little River Band or something.

The best tune on here is actually the last one -- a very short song about a dead dog, added to the LP at the last second!

Report this review (#50673)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars This album was a source of frustration to pretty much everybody involved – the fans, the label, its producer, and especially the band. Capitol had hired Hall & Oates producer Christopher Bond to craft a commercially-viable fourth album from the band. By now the rumors of Klaatu being a stealth incarnation of The Beatles had been pretty much debunked, and coming off the lackluster Sir Army Suit, Capitol was looking to reap some financial reward from the band’s contract, or part ways. In the end the label would pull this record from American distribution and drop the band, but not before shipping them off to Los Angeles under the watchful and dictatorial eye of Bond to produce Endangered Species.

It’s not that this is a terrible album, but it is worlds away from what Klaatu fans had become accustomed to, and it certainly was not progressive by any stretch of the imagination. This is a purely pop album in the same mold as what the aforementioned Hall & Oates were churning out at the time, as well as other glossy pop acts like Orleans and the Bay City Rollers. The label was looking to leverage the band’s name and creative lyrical style, as well as their distinctive vocal sound, but packaged into marketable singles and easily digestible formula hooks. To do so they brought in not only Bond, but a host of uncredited American west coast studio musicians as well. The band wrote all the songs, and John Woloschuk did manage to lay down some bass, piano, and electric guitar on a few tracks. But Dee Long played almost no part in the studio work, and a large part of Terry Draper’s recordings were removed from the final released mixes.

While the band didn’t officially reveal themselves on this recording (that would come on their final release Magentalane), there is a short note on the inner sleeve that is signed “Terry Draper, Dee Long & John Woloschuk), with no further explanation. The band members are also credited in the liner notes for the lyrics, but no other credits are offered.

While their three previous albums were recorded in Toronto, mostly on 16-track tape and produced mostly by the band themselves with support from friends and area musicians, this one was completed in a Los Angeles studio over the winter of 1979 and released in early spring, Christopher Bond was solely responsible for overseeing the recording sessions and final production, and even played on a number of tracks. The three band members themselves were rarely ever even in the studio at the same time, and to a man they were frustrated, fed up, and ready to pack it in and head back north for home. They would never release a studio album for Capitol Records again (Magentalane was bankrolled and distributed by Capitol Canada).

The band wrote a couple dozen songs for the album, from which Bond selected the nine that finally made it onto the album, odd in itself because this left the record at a scant thirty-three minutes. “Knee Deep in Love” was released as a single but failed to garner any notice; “Hot Box City/Dog Star” was promoted as a single but pulled. “I Can’t Help It” charted briefly in Canada, but when rumors that “Sell Out, Sell Out” was actually a disparaging song directed toward Klaatu fans, the album faded there as well.

“I Can’t Help It” is a straightforward pop tune that sound very much like a John Hall Band album that was released by Capitol about the same time, another attempt by the label to leverage the name of the band leader’s former band, Orleans. It’s pretty much a throwaway love song with no real distinguishing characteristics worth noting.

“Knee Deep in Love” is a bit closer to the band’s sound off their debut album, but is uncharacteristically depressing and describes a “Dear Jane” (or Joan in this case) breakup phone call. I would say that the guitar work was pretty decent, but since it was undoubtedly done by an unnamed studio musician, I won’t. All three band members manage some pleasant harmonic vocals, but here again this was engineered to be a pop single.

Woloschuk penned “Paranoia” and the lyrics are clever in describing the mental anguish of a guy suffering from clinical paranoia, but framed in a pop tempo and danceable drums it loses quite a bit in the translation.

“lately when I’m talkin’, I’ve been talkin’ to myself. My friends say they don’t notice – but they do ‘cause I can tell”

“Howl at the Moon” is a bizarre attempt at a “Devil Woman”-like tune that comes off flat. ‘Nuff said about that one.

Woloschuk later admitted that the lyrics and strident rhythm of “Set the World on Fire” was partly an expression of frustration with the situation he and the rest of the band found themselves in with the label. The highly repetitive lyrics and almost atonal vocal delivery were probably an intentional attempt to spite the label, but these are really nice guys and they would never admit that even if it were true.

“Hot Box City” is a blatant attempt at a pop single, complete with horns, simple guitar riffs, and Ric Ocasek-like vocals. It’s what the Beach Boys would have sounded like if they’d been from Canada instead of the States.

Dee Long wrote “Dog Star”, and this is as close as the band would come to the astral themes of 3:47 E.S.T. and Hope. If I thought the band actually played on this track I’d say it was decent, probably a three star effort.

Then comes “Sell Out, Sell Out”, the about – well, just what the title suggests. This is the Klaatu version of indignity toward their label and the music business in general. Woloschuk went to far as to state later that the band was really just trying to send a message to their fans that they were as disappointed with the record as they knew their fans would be, but it backfired a bit. At one point the band even managed to get Capitol executive Rupert Perry to record himself telling the band to “sell out”, making this a rare case where a record executive was a willing participant in panning himself!

Most fans interpreted “All Goods Things” as a swan-song for the band, and it was probably intended to be just that originally. Unfortunately Woloschuk’s family dog died during the recording sessions and he tweaked the final version to be a tribute to his lost pet.

This is probably the most disappointing Klaatu album, and it wouldn’t surprise me if even the band discouraged people from buying it. But it has some value to fans, and the music isn’t bad, it just isn’t progressive, and to a large degree it isn’t even Klaatu. Two stars are probably generous, but it feels right.


Report this review (#86941)
Posted Saturday, August 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars Put them out of their misery!

My copy of "Endangered species" forms part of a 2 on 1 CD the other half being Klaatu's "Sir army suit" album. Both albums are so short that the two fit comfortably on one CD with room to spare. The packaging is poor, with very little in the way of sleeve notes or historical information. With just 9 tracks and a total running time of 34 minutes, there is a clear suggestion that the band were devoid of ideas, and were running on empty.

Whatever vestiges of prog there were in the band's first albums have well and truly disappeared by the time of this their fourth album in 1980. There is certainly a retro feel to the music, starting with the Beach Boys influences opening track "I can't help it".

Occasionally the type of sounds which led to speculation that Klaatu was a secret Beatles project come to the fore. "Knee deep in love" may have echoes of the Beatles sound, but the song itself is far more anonymous. Indeed, it is the song-writing which is the real low point here. Every song is a plain piece of pop, devoid of inspiration. When that is coupled with a distinct lack of production technique, the results are all too predictable.

Bands such as 10CC have shown how it is possible to develop an album of pop songs into something enjoyable and appealing. All this album does is demonstrates the other side of the coin.


Irrelevant footnote: Andy Latimer wanted to use the title "Endangered species" for the Camel album "I can see your house from here".

Report this review (#96211)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars BY the time, the are they the Beatles media hype backlash was in full force. And to top that, the record company was starting to ask for returns on its' investment. Klaatu was in the unfortunate spot of having had complete artistic control until then, & yet the accountants had not seen their rewards. The fans had 3 great albums, the first two being prog classics. Here, the only "real" Klaatu to be found is in the Beatles / Moody Blues melodies that we find in I Can't Help It & Knee Deep In Love, & less so in Howl At The Moon. The rest seems at times forced, with the group trying to bring the harder edge that the label demanded. Hot Box City & Dog Star came out & matched Klaatu's previous forays in hard rock. Paranoia & Set The World On Fire seemed forced. The edge was real, but it came through more in the impression one got that the band was not happy doing these songs. Sell Out, Sell Out ... well ... this ranks among the best anti-record biz song out there. The lyrics are pointed, no B.S. & no dancing around the merry-go-round. How they got away with saying out loud what they were being expected to deliver by the bigwigs, I'll never know. I'm sure that it helped them as much as Gentle Giant's Interview when it came to label support. All Good Things rounds out the album. You could see Paul McCartney knocking this off in his sleep. Was it meant as a melancholic goodbye to the artistic freedom that they had enjoyed before ..........
Report this review (#117350)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album has little to share with any prog feeling. Far from this.

It is just another way to discover some fine rock ballads that DO remind of some great English band I've forgotten the name of ("Knee Deep in Love"). Apart from this very good song, there is hardly anything to recommend out of here.

Some good and pastiche work. Probably. But no more.

I've been quite comprehensive with the band in terms of reviews of their earlier albums; but this one is just a poor one. Nothing as "Hope" can be reminded in here: psychedelia is gone, creativity is gone, melodies are gone.

This album is just a collection of some average pop songs indeed (wherever it is relevant). With no thrill unfortunately. And that's a pity. Because "Klaatu" were able to develop some fine and melodic rock songs in the middle seventies. They were even able to compete with the great "10CC", once in a while.

This album brings them definitely into the average category ("Set The World On Fire"). And it is not the disgusting "Set The World On Fire" which is just a poor complaint for "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" from whom you might know which will turn their music into better territories.

This album is frankly a poor one. Not a one star one, but I am damned adventurous to rate it with two stars. Believe me. Just listen to the awful disco "Dog Star". I am not sure that this album deserves a two star rating. Anyway...

Report this review (#238707)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink

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