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Klaatu - Hope CD (album) cover




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3.96 | 156 ratings

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4 stars So, probably almost everybody knows the story here. A group of faceless musicians puts out a quirky little Sgt. Pepper-sounding album with no credits or liner notes to speak of, including a progesque opening tune ("Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft") that sounds suspiciously like the B-word (ie., the Beatles). Next thing you know the guys have an album on the pop charts, loads of magazine press speculating on which one of them is Lennon and which one is Ringo, and the Carpenters cover their only hit and take it to nearly the top of the North American charts. What a feel-good story.

A year or so later, with the myth somewhat debunked but still believed by most conspiracy theory-obsessed troll-fans who were off their meds, along comes yet another album by these guys. This one has no credits either, sending the trolls off the deep end and looking for a grassy knoll in Nevada to investigate. Good publicity stuff, that.

Hope is a concept album of sorts, about a former planet (between Mars and Uranus, I believe), where two races basically destroy each other over some inane disagreement of some sort. One man survives, and he sets up a lighthouse to warn others of the dangers of, well of being human I guess. He's a lonely, pitiful slob who just wants to know why we can't all get along. The album closes with the sappiest and most completely endearing song of hope ever, appropriately entitled "Hope". So there's the Cliff Notes version.

Only a few may admit it, but just about every serious progressive music fan has a copy of this one stuck away somewhere warm and safe. This is their 'get out of a blue funk free' card.

The album opens with "We're off You Know", which makes it fairly apparent why the Beatles rumors persisted. This reminds me of the peppy tune that kicks off the adventure in 'James and the Giant Peach', only in this one we are being swept away to this mystical land between the planets known as Politzania (or points nearby).

The destruction comes quickly, or more likely occurred before we ever arrived to observe this terrific and terrible place. The madness of human discord has already wrecked havoc -

"Weep now for the children of your children; it's not for you but they we sing. Do it, and when you realize that you blew it, you will look in the eyes of the madman".

"Around the Universe in 80 Days" is a combination of "Space Oddity" and 'Space Balls', a goofy little tune about a hitchhiker's guide to the universe (or something like it). Silly lyrics, carnival tune, kind of fun nonetheless.

Professor Charles Pamplemousse explains the anthropology of the Politzanian race and the reasons for their demise in "Long Live Politzania". Pretty much what you'd expect - a self-described superior race where dissenters were effectively 'reprogrammed' by government operatives, in this case through brain removal. Quite subtle, yes?! The Politzanian National Anthem closes the song:

"Politzania, brave, strong and true; Politzania we all love you. We'll smite our foes for we are right, and God is on our side. Politzania, red, white and green; Politzania reigning supreme. Victors in war, champions of peace - onto eternity. We're the Masters of the World!" Despite the color change to make a rhyme with 'supreme' work, this sounds suspiciously like our Canadian Klaatu friends just to their southern border. Coincidence? Probably not.

Hang on, the cheerful part is coming...

The back half of the album launches with "The Loneliest of Creatures", a plaintive self-absorbed lament by some unnamed individual who feels themselves to be the most lonely person in the world. Turns out they are incorrect, as is pointed out by the bodiless choir who shout him down "Oh no! You're not the loneliest of all creatures in the universe - oh no!". Turns out the winner of that title is the sole survivor of the Politzania self-induced genocide. This is the guy I mentioned earlier who is sitting in the interstellar lighthouse lamenting the bad form of his former race.

The "Prelude" is a prelude to, I suppose, the end of the song. This is an instrumental that sort of acts as intermission music, or maybe a bridge between the history lesson of the previous songs, and the grand finale of when we meet the lighthouse gentleman. Anyway, the lighthouse keeper is lonely, true, but he is also determined to come up with the most profound prayer that will spare ours and future generations from befalling the same fate as did his:

"So said the lighthouse keeper, as he wiped a teardrop from his nose, upon which his spectacles rose and gazed out to the stars. And like a portrait still he stared, and sighing to himself declared, "I must invent the perfect prayer. Not yours, not mine, but ours."

And that prayer is:

"Let us feel Hope, and feel the sunrise in our minds. To give Hope is to enlighten all mankind. But lose Hope, and life seems black as blind. When faith gives way to fear, when motivation disappears -

all is lost if one abandons Hope."


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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