Never been a fan of "Star Wars", "Star Trek", "2001: A Space Odyssey" or any galaxy flick but always been a huge fan of the Carpenters, ever since I was 8. People who say they are not relevent or "hip" are surely mistaken: they are as hip as Abba, the Beatles or any legendary band on planet earth. The 90s tribute album "If I Were a Carpenter" is a huge testimony of current/alternative acts like Sonic Youth, the Cranberries and Babes in Toyland acknowledging the value of Richard Carpenter's pristine production and, of course, the perfect tone of the beloved and never forgotten miss Karen Carpenter. Her voice is one of the 20th century's greatest gifts and it evoques countless feelings: happiness, sadness (most of the time), love and even...a plea for humans and outerspace creatures to communicate? Yes!
It all came about 1977: their soft-pop sound, which brought them international superstardom, was losing stride. At the same time, their personal life wasn't exactly sunny as their early catalogue either: Richard battled with prescription drugs and Karen was showing signs of the disease that would lead her to her demise six years later: anorexia nervosa. Maybe in his own druggy stupor, Richard became mesmorized by the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and a California unknown band named Klaatu (hyped by rock press and confused by record buyers as being the Beatles reunited with a different name). One of their songs on their debut album, the opener, was a seven minute-fourteen seconds opus called "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft". Released as a single in early 77, it was almost left unnoticed, reaching number 62 in Billboard.
As determined as he was, Richard took upon the challenge of reproducing the prog track and making it a bonafide Carpenters classic. Over 160 musicians and singers participated in the recording and quickly secured its spot as the final song in their eight LP "Passage". Their audience, always well adjusted to their ballads and poppy tunes, was left buggled by "Calling Occupants..." and recieved a modest position on the charts, as number 32. At least the UK got the message and was an even greater hit, at number 10. It was one of their biggest songs and always sends shivers down my spine, particulary with a line that puts the cherry to a beautiful melody:
"You close your eyes, you concentrate, together that's the way/to send the message we declare World Contact Day"
MP3: Carpenters - Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem Of World Contact Day)
MP3: Klaatu - Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft
MP3: Babes in Toyland - Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft