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Official Review [Single]: 23. "CALLING OCCUPANTS OF INTERPLANETARY CRAFT"/"CAN'T SMILE WITHOUT YOU" (1978-S)

Which side is your favorite?

  • Side A: "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft"

    Votes: 37 82.2%
  • Side B: "Can't Smile Without You"

    Votes: 8 17.8%

  • Total voters
    45

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
“CALLING OCCUPANTS OF INTERPLANETARY CRAFT"/"CAN'T SMILE WITHOUT YOU"

Occupants-Aside.pngCOOIC.pngAKOH-Bside.pngOccupants-Bside.png
Side A: Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft 3:59 (Klaatu)
Side B: Can't Smile Without You 3:26 (Arnold/Martin/Morrow)


Catalogue Number: A&M 1978-S
Monarch Δ103141 / Δ103142

Date of Release: 9/77
Format: 7" Single
Speed: 45 RPM
Country: US
Top Chart Position: #32


Side A Arranged by Richard Carpenter & Orchestrated by Peter Knight
Side B Arranged & Orchestrated by Richard Carpenter

Produced by Richard Carpenter
Associate Producer: Karen Carpenter
Side B taken from A&M SP-4581 album "A Kind Of Hush"


For more definitive information regarding each single, you can visit our Carpenters - The Complete Singles page in our Carpenters Resource.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I went with side A. You can't really compete with a song as majestic as this! Richard really threw the kitchen sink at it when it comes to the arrangement but the icing on the cake for me is the wonderful background vocals from 5:35 (the "aah aah aah aah" section) and the way they counterpointed with the trumpets. That glorious high note Karen hits on the last one gives me goosebumps every time.

The B side? It's from the insipid Hush album so nothing more to be said there really. I wonder why they didn't put a Carpenter/Bettis tune on there though. There was always You, Sandy or I Have You to choose from if they wanted something from that album.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
While I enjoy a new rendition of lyrics with Can't Smile I went with Occupants as it is a stellar achievement by anyone. Aside from Queens Bohemian Rhapsody and some Bowie I've yet to find anything close to CarpenterS Occupants. RC shouldve won the arrangement Grammy here.
 
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CraigGA

Well-Known Member
When this single was released I loved it. Through the years, it has worn thin. Here in my home town DJ’s that were Klaatu fans claimed it to be a ‘rip-off’. Little did they know of Klaatu’s excitement over the Carpenters’ version. I guess it fell in line with Carole King’s, It’s Going To Take Some Time in DJ land. However, I think it showed everyone that they were still making records and that today’s pop sound can sound musically correct. I would think that every band student would love it that an orchestra with your instrument of choice was featured in a pop song! And, they may have if it would have been on more playlists, but DJ’s fell to the trap of the elitist critics who could share an opinion without any instrumental talent themselves.
My vote is clearly Occupants, but I did like the instrumental changes to the flip side! And, as with any song with Karen singing, it also plays to my heart!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
CallingOccSingles.jpg In addition to several stock copies of the 45, I also have a promo version that has the long stereo version on one side and the short stereo version on the other. I most certainly go with the "Calling Occupants" track, whether long or short, as my preference here. "Can't Smile Without You" is interesting in its altered state, but is anemic in comparison to the grandeur of the main track here.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" was the soundtrack to my life when I was 13 & 14, when it was a Top 5 in my state for a few weeks and on the national charts for seven months. Some would say that a song about intergalactic communications makes an unusual life soundtrack. I used to walk around our farm at night with our transistor radio, changing stations and seeing how many times I could pick the song up in one evening - and it was usually a few. ('Calling Occupants' was a hit during the Australian summer - during school holidays. That meant, with no air conditioning, staying around the house, inactive, during the typical 113 degrees Fahrenheit, (45 degrees Celsius), of the days and being active at night). This was a perfect hit for listening to under summer evening skies, looking up at the stars and wondering what might be out there. I admit to closing my eyes many times and seeing whether I could make some connections, testing my capacity to telepath messages through the vast Unknown. I bought the album at the end of 1977 and the single when it was at its peak in January 1978. I used to play the single continuously, (as well as the album). The album peaked at Number 11 in my state. When I returned to school in February '78, I remember school mates enjoyably imitating the DJ / alien interaction of the record - which means that they were familiar with the album version, although that's not surprising, because that was played on local radio, as well. The film clip for 'Calling Occupants' was even played on the government-related TV channel, the ABC, immediately before the 7pm news, which is the more adult-oriented news, unlike that on the commercial channels. That was the only TV channel we could get on the farm. At the time, the ABC used to play one music video before the news each evening. That was the first time I ever saw a Carpenters film clip. That was the year we got our TV, too. The only other Carpenters footage I had ever seen was the 'New London Theatre' concert, which I watched on my grandma's black and white television in early 1977, (also on the ABC). The summer of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was a heady time for a teenage Carpenters fan. The song was everywhere!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" was the soundtrack to my life when I was 13 & 14, when it was a Top 5 in my state for a few weeks and on the national charts for seven months. Some would say that a song about intergalactic communications makes an unusual life soundtrack. I used to walk around our farm at night with our transistor radio, changing stations and seeing how many times I could pick the song up in one evening - and it was usually a few. ('Calling Occupants' was a hit during the Australian summer - during school holidays. That meant, with no air conditioning, staying around the house, inactive, during the typical 113 degrees Fahrenheit, (45 degrees Celsius), of the days and being active at night). This was a perfect hit for listening to under summer evening skies, looking up at the stars and wondering what might be out there. I admit to closing my eyes many times and seeing whether I could make some connections, testing my capacity to telepath messages through the vast Unknown. I bought the album at the end of 1977 and the single when it was at its peak in January 1978. I used to play the single continuously, (as well as the album). The album peaked at Number 11 in my state. When I returned to school in February '78, I remember school mates enjoyably imitating the DJ / alien interaction of the record - which means that they were familiar with the album version, although that's not surprising, because that was played on local radio, as well. The film clip for 'Calling Occupants' was even played on the government-related TV channel, the ABC, immediately before the 7pm news, which is the more adult-oriented news, unlike that on the commercial channels. That was the only TV channel we could get on the farm. At the time, the ABC used to play one music video before the news each evening. That was the first time I ever saw a Carpenters film clip. That was the year we got our TV, too. The only other Carpenters footage I had ever seen was the 'New London Theatre' concert, which I watched on my grandma's black and white television in early 1977, (also on the ABC). The summer of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was a heady time for a teenage Carpenters fan. The song was everywhere!
So I guess a lot of Australian kids were waiting for Santa Claus to surf up to or drive up in an ATV to their house to deliver the single or album that year! And I guess that on Christmas Day a number of people probably took their records and portable players to the Beach and were listening as they surfed and BBQ'd their Christmas dinners.

Anyway I went with "Can't Smile Without You", as even on the 74-78 album I was never crazy of Occupants, even though I'm a Star Trek fan! (Trek rules, Wars is pathetic!)
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants" gets my vote. Back when it was released, we only had one FM station in town, and the night DJ played the long version right after the midnight news, every night, for weeks on end.

My dad took me to see Star Wars in October 1977. Instead of the usual cartoon before the movie, the theater played the "Calling Occupants" promo film! That was a memorable evening for sure. :D
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Side A definitely. The Carpenters going completely out of the box with this recording...Wonderfully weird! Thanks Chris May for bringing another great forum topic.
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants" is the winner here- surely. I love that song the more I listen to it now, as an ardent follower of the Carpenters catalog. As a casual listener... it took some getting used to! The subject was "alien" to me. :D

The production work was always solid and I think Richard Carpenter played Klaatu's "Beatle influence" to their great strength. My favorite section of the song starts at "interplanetary, quite extraordinary...", followed by the instruments, Karen and Richard going back and forth ("Please come in peace we beseech you..."), and then the crescendo of instruments/voices leading into the line "With your mind..." . For a song that could be seen as more or less of a novelty, it blows that mold out of the water. "Disco Duck" was a novelty- this transcended it. Suddenly a record about aliens and World Contact Day is legitimate and almost sincere. Fine talent from all is on display here.

I have no opinion of the B-side. The Hush version is preferred slightly. I never quite got Barry Manilow's version, though. :hmmm:
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
So I guess a lot of Australian kids were waiting for Santa Claus to surf up to or drive up in an ATV to their house to deliver the single or album that year! And I guess that on Christmas Day a number of people probably took their records and portable players to the Beach and were listening as they surfed and BBQ'd their Christmas dinners.

Anyway I went with "Can't Smile Without You", as even on the 74-78 album I was never crazy of Occupants, even though I'm a Star Trek fan! (Trek rules, Wars is pathetic!)
No, it's the six kangaroos that bring Santa each year....although sometimes, THEY surf. And the vinyl would have melted in the heat before the 3:59 of "Calling Occupants" was over, if kids had listened to it at the beach. :)

Speaking of the 3:59 edit, I wish this was included on CD compilations, (other than the unobtainable recent TV-pledge release). I am still very fond of this single version. I think the LP version is too long. For me, it's pretty much worn out its welcome.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Occupants.....always a favorite....short or long length, matters not to me.
It being brilliant from day one when I heard it.

I enjoy comparing Singles 1969-1973 to the Singles 1974-1978,
Now, there I see musical "growth"......
As much as I love the "big hits" (as per the earlier Singles LP)
the fantastic music represented on the later LP truly impresses me !

Again, how this song--or, any single from Passage--failed to chart higher boggles my mind.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
No, it's the six kangaroos that bring Santa each year....although sometimes, THEY surf. And the vinyl would have melted in the heat before the 3:59 of "Calling Occupants" was over, if kids had listened to it at the beach. :)

Speaking of the 3:59 edit, I wish this was included on CD compilations, (other than the unobtainable recent TV-pledge release). I am still very fond of this single version. I think the LP version is too long. For me, it's pretty much worn out its welcome.
I love the single edit as well as this was my first experience. But boy was I thrilled at the PASSAGE release and the grand discovery of the extended version. A thrill and snappy surprise to say the least.
 

Graeme

Well-Known Member
Calling Occupants. It's epic and completely different to what they'd done before. It was also an excellent value for money jukebox track for a hard up student in the 90s, along with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
 

Graeme

Well-Known Member
Anyway I went with "Can't Smile Without You", as even on the 74-78 album I was never crazy of Occupants, even though I'm a Star Trek fan! (Trek rules, Wars is pathetic!)[/QUOTE]

This is the most controversial comment I've ever read on here. Trek rules, Wars is pathetic?!
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
No, it's the six kangaroos that bring Santa each year....although sometimes, THEY surf. And the vinyl would have melted in the heat before the 3:59 of "Calling Occupants" was over, if kids had listened to it at the beach. :) .
Ha ha that's funny.
I've heard Olivia say Christmas in Australia was usually having barbecue at the beach. Lol
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Calling Occupants. It's epic and completely different to what they'd done before. It was also an excellent value for money jukebox track for a hard up student in the 90s, along with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
"EPIC" probably the best description for all times. Then DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA is side ones epic. I am so into this album. I almost need it like air...
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants" gets my vote. My dad took me to see Star Wars in October 1977. Instead of the usual cartoon before the movie, the theater played the "Calling Occupants" promo film! That was a memorable evening for sure. :D
My whole class was taken to the movie theatres to see 'Star Wars' while we were on camp in the city in 1978. We were also taken to see 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. It seems like a disproportionate amount of time was spent in movie theatres, but this memory incorporates two separate camps - 1978 & 1979. These were very exciting events, (well, not 'One Flew Over'.... although probably a great film), because most of us probably hadn't been in movie theatres before, being from the country. This was all around the time of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' - at least, the 1978 camp was, because the single hung around on the charts until mid-year - although we definitely didn't see the promo video in the theatre the way you did, Murray. Another sci-fi series popular in Australia in 1978 was the British TV series, 'Blake's 7', which I used to watch, late, on the ABC soon after we got our TV. And then there was 'Doctor Who'. The public probably had a bit of a sci-fi obsession around that time. I wasn't fully into sci-fi. I was a fan of the single and 'Blake's 7' and had a passing interest in the two movies - enjoyed them, but wasn't a total fanatic.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
My whole class was taken to the movie theatres to see 'Star Wars' while we were on camp in the city in 1978. We were also taken to see 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. It seems like a disproportionate amount of time was spent in movie theatres, but this memory incorporates two separate camps - 1978 & 1979. These were very exciting events, (well, not 'One Flew Over'.... although probably a great film), because most of us probably hadn't been in movie theatres before, being from the country. This was all around the time of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' - at least, the 1978 camp was, because the single hung around on the charts until mid-year - although we definitely didn't see the promo video in the theatre the way you did, Murray. Another sci-fi series popular in Australia in 1978 was the British TV series, 'Blake's 7', which I used to watch, late, on the ABC soon after we got our TV. And then there was 'Doctor Who'. The public probably had a bit of a sci-fi obsession around that time. I wasn't fully into sci-fi. I was a fan of the single and 'Blake's 7' and had a passing interest in the two movies - enjoyed them, but wasn't a total fanatic.
LOL! I got a kick out of your comment, Brian..."One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" would be a pretty intense movie to take a bunch of school children to. Jack Nicholson movies in the 1970s had some very salty language! The movie was well acted and won awards, but I remember coming out of the theater feeling completely depressed. I felt the same way with "Raging Bull" several years later. Just not very "uplifting" cinematic experiences...I enjoyed your story though :).
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
LOL! I got a kick out of your comment, Brian..."One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" would be a pretty intense movie to take a bunch of school children to. Jack Nicholson movies in the 1970s had some very salty language! The movie was well acted and won awards, but I remember coming out of the theater feeling completely depressed. I felt the same way with "Raging Bull" several years later. Just not very "uplifting" cinematic experiences...I enjoyed your story though :).
Exactly! It was a bit heavy for a 14-year-old! And depressing. Not to mention the sex scenes. Although I can see now that it explores some worthwhile themes. I want to watch it again, but haven't seen it since that school camp. 'Star Wars' was definitely a lighter watch. :)
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
LOL! I got a kick out of your comment, Brian..."One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" would be a pretty intense movie to take a bunch of school children to. Jack Nicholson movies in the 1970s had some very salty language! The movie was well acted and won awards, but I remember coming out of the theater feeling completely depressed. I felt the same way with "Raging Bull" several years later. Just not very "uplifting" cinematic experiences...I enjoyed your story though :).
What I remember most about that movie is Louise Fletcher's portrayal of Nurse Ratched. Could anyone be colder, creepier, and nightmare inducing than that? To think that she was chosen to play Agnes Carpenter!
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
To bring things back on track, "Calling Occupants" gets my vote. I don't know if it's the better single, but it's definitely a more exciting recording than the flipside is. I'm not a fan of the LP version because of the whole DJ thing...which is strange because I never get tired of hearing the same guy (Tony Peluso) doing the DJ thing on the oldies medley from Now and Then.

On the whole, I've always liked the Klaatu version of the song better than the Carpenters'... which is another oddity for me, because in almost all cases, when Carpenters covered a song, I liked the Carpenters version the best -- but not on this song.

"Can't Smile Without You" is a good song too, but just doesn't have that special-ness about it like the best Carpenters singles do.
 
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