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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Klaatu - "A Million Miles Away"

By April 14, 2014

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The combination of Beatles-inspired pop music with complex progressive rock impulses probably seemed like a good idea to a number of bands over the years. Trouble is, not many teams of musicians can pull off such a feat without embarrassing themselves. So thanks to Canada, then, for the exploratory trio Klaatu, a band not only oddly brilliant enough to name itself after the essentially peaceful if foreboding alien character from The Day the Earth Stood Still but also responsible for a stretch of genre-defying rock music during the late '70s and very early '80s. Like The Beatles, Klaatu proved itself highly versatile and often unpredictable as a creative unit, bouncing between relatively accessible pop melodies and dense, challenging compositions from album to album. Unfortunately, the off-kilter tendencies of Klaatu pretty much guaranteed that the group's career would be short. Luckily, '80s music fans were able to cash in on the wonderment, if only briefly.

Klaatu's final original album, 1981's Magentalane, nearly never came to fruition at all, thanks to the poor performance of its predecessor. But come to be it somehow did, even if the establishment of guitarist Dee Long's recording studio at this point all but guaranteed that further original material would be highly unlikely. Even so, "A Million Miles Away" delivers on a number of levels, combining an introductory burst of hard rock guitars with synthesizers and then ultimately the unique tenor lead vocals of John Woloschuk. The track may be plenty orchestrated at times, but it also retains the excitement of riff-ready rock and roll. Even better, the transcendent lead vocal performance here simultaneously brings to mind disparate, talented rock singers like America's Gerry Beckley, Iain Sutherland of the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, and even occasionally Nick Lowe. This is fresh and fun music that defies categorization and even placement in any particular era. As such, it attains a sort of rock and roll mortality.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Daffodil

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