From the Stacks

From the Stacks: Klaatu – 3:47 EST / Self-Titled


The Beatles broke up in 1970, and we spent the rest of the decade in denial:  They’re getting back together, it’s just a matter of time.  Wings isn’t so bad, and neither is ELO. Ringo’s new album is pretty good.

Even the slightest hint of a Beatle’s reunion was buzzworthy.  This was the climate in which Klaatu dropped 3:47 ET / Self-Titled in September 1976.

Why two different titles?  The band’s label, Capitol, thought 3:47 ET was too obtuse of a title for American audiences.  In their defense, Happy Days was the top-rated American television show in 1976, so they probably had a point.

Wait, what was that again?  Klaatu is on Capitol?  The Beatles are on Capitol, too.  And look at these liner notes:  “All songs written by Klaatu.”  And no band photo, either.  Why aren’t they touring?  They obviously don’t want to show their faces or tell us their names.  There can only be one answer:  Klaatu is The Beatles!

Again, we were a generation that believed a guy in a leather jacket could fix things by beating on them.

The band didn’t play up this rumor, but Capitol did through a series of not dishonest but craftily worded press releases.  Anything to ship some units, right?

What’s funny in retrospect is that Klaatu doesn’t sound like The Beatles.  Sure, there are moments, but what seventies song didn’t show a Beatles influence? (Answer: the Happy Days theme.)

This one isn’t rare, but it’s a good album and worthy of a spot in your stacks both as conversation piece and cool, proggy record.  Expect to pay in the 5-10 dollar range, but if you keep your eyes peeled you might find one for as little as a buck.  Happy hunting.

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