Charter A&M Corner Member
I never heard it on big-market radio, ever. As far as I know, the only place it was aired was on the TV special. But I'm sure there must have been a mom and pop station somewhere that aired it.
There are many casual fans I’ve met among friends over the years that cite this as their absolute favourite Carpenters track.
One of my absolute favorite tracks, but not one of my favorite singles. The "edit" just sucks the "gonzo-ness" out of the song. I can understand why Richard uses the album version on compilations.“Calling Occupants...” is completely gonzo. The production is great. Peter Knight and Richard nailed the arrangement too. Karen is a cog in the machine here but she sounds great putting over the beautifully odd lyric.
(I pulled this great post from another singles thread and thought it deserved a place here, since we are talking about "Occupants" again.) My younger brother who, is not a Carpenters fan, sites this song as one of his favorites of all time. Of course he has probably never heard Klaatu's version, and I'd be willing to bet he'd like that one better.The long version is quite a ride. It’s just bizarre from beginning to end and Richard should get a medal for doing it. Few would have thought to do it. Fewer would have had the guts to actually do it. Peter Knight is a genius. Lastly, Karen has the nerve to make this beautiful foolishness sound sweet. No alien would ever refuse her cuddly encouragement to make itself known. When she sings “we are your friends”, any alien within range would have come right out of their ship and given her a hug.
I recall hearing it on my local station, WICC 600. First time I heard it, I thought "well that's different".I never heard it on big-market radio, ever. As far as I know, the only place it was aired was on the TV special. But I'm sure there must have been a mom and pop station somewhere that aired it.
I, for one, heard ‘Occupants’ (single version) exactly one time on the most popular FM Top 40 station in Kansas City at the time, KBEQ 104.3 ‘Super Q’. I was shocked and thrilled to hear it and it sounded awesome on the radio. I think it got to #30 on their weekly Top 40 chart.I never heard it on big-market radio, ever. As far as I know, the only place it was aired was on the TV special. But I'm sure there must have been a mom and pop station somewhere that aired it.
On the radio in February 1983, I caught the end of an interview that Carpenters had done in Australia some years earlier, (1972, during their tour, no doubt). I quickly hit ‘Record’ and captured Karen saying how they only recorded ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ at the last minute, (before they finished the ‘Carpenters’ album, I guess she meant), and that it had turned out nicely. I’ve long since lost that tape. It would have been interesting to hear the rest of the interview.Incidentally, that same year, Karen did a little publicity blurb for the station. She said, ‘Hi, this is Karen Carpenter, and Super Q plays the hits!’ Wish I had that on tape.
One problem with that is that Occupants was the 3rd last single of the 70’s. After Smile, ‘I Believe You’ was released, which in 78 was a stand-alone. Unless the released an older track from Horizon or Hush, B’wana, Man and IJFIL would’ve been the only other optionsI was recently thinking that, in the countries where 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was a hit, A&M might have done well to release a follow-up that was also different from Carpenters' usual output, as 'Occupants' had been, rather than releasing 'Sweet, Sweet Smile'. I think that 'Sweet, Sweet Smile' was a reasonable choice in the USA, which resisted a bit more strongly K&R's attempt to change direction than some other countries did. Although Sw Sw Sm wasn't a big pop hit in the USA, at least it reached the country Top 10. And the song was a hit in Germany, I believe, so it did work there.
'Calling Occupants' reached the Top 10 in the majority of states in Australia, (I think), and peaked at Number 13 nationally. 'Sweet, Sweet Smile', however, peaked at Number 100. It was never going to work here. The ground that Carpenters gained through changing direction a bit and appealing to the record-buying kids a bit more with 'Calling Occupants', they immediately lost with their next release. They never again got above Number 78 on the singles charts, (although they had hit compilation albums).
I was just thinking that, as much as I personally dislike Carpenters' version of 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter', perhaps that might have fared better as a follow-up to 'Calling Occupants' than 'Sweet, Sweet Smile', because it is different from their usual MOR stuff. It's a bit too long for radio of the day, (then again, 'Calling Occupants' was just over four minutes), but they could have edited it by just fading out the long instrumental outro. (What would it have mattered?) The only problem here would have been that Robert Palmer's single version had scraped the National Top 100 only a year to 18 months beforehand.
The only other song they seemed to have that was different was 'B'Wana She No Home' - but I can't imagine that would have worked here as a single.
I'm not sure about the UK & Ireland and other territories where 'Calling Occupants' was a hit. Around that time, acts as diverse as, A:- The Sex Pistols, Boomtown Rats and The Rolling Stones and, B:- Brotherhood of Man, James Galway, The Smurfs and Brighouse Rastrick Brass Band had Top 10 hits in the UK, so, maybe there, a variety of styles might have worked.
Robert Palmer's version of 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' didn't reach the UK Top 75, so maybe Carpenters' version might have succeeded.
I do have my doubts about the song, though. I don't think the song itself was commercial enough, as Richard arranged and recorded it. I'm not really championing it, because I don't really like Carpenters' version. Just a thought, though.
I think that maybe A&M and their associated international labels could have thought more carefully about which songs might have worked in which territories to follow up 'Calling Occupants', just as they had released 'Jambalaya' in some places and not others. The follow-up to 'Calling Occupants' was crucial in Carpenters' career, although, of course, K&R or their record companies didn't realise it at the time, because 'Sweet, Sweet Smile' can be seen as the final death knell in their singles chart success in certain territories.
Great to see that 'Calling Occupants' was the pick of the week in Cashbox. Weird that they listed it as an MOR single, though. I guess they looked at their perception of what the artists were like for this, rather than assessing whether the songs actually were MOR. I don't think 'Calling Occupants' would have been considered such at the time.Cash Box, 10/08/1977:
Top New MOR Singles
1 LOVERS HOLIDAY, ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK
2 WE'RE ALL ALONE, RITA COOLIDGE
3 CALLING OCCUPANTS OF INTERPLANETARY CRAFT, CARPENTERS
4 YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE, DEBBY BOONE
5 NOBODY DOES IT BETTER, CARLY SIMON
It would not have helped. What they released actually played well on radio. The issue was that most did not play it with the defense that they ripped off Klatuu, which is actually wrong. Klatuu loved. It was just the DJ excuse for their dislike of the Carpenters.Great song and good vehicle for the Carpenters to have done.
I wish at the time radio would of been provided with a longer edit version. Maybe something in the 4:59 range would of made the ending seem a little less abrupt. Because the album version is long, it rightfully belongs on the original concept album. But a longer edit would of worked better on compilations, and maybe even had a place on an RPO album..........