LEONARD NIMOY & WILLIAM SHATNER – Spaced Out! (1997 MCA)
Although William Shatner has enjoyed a slightly more high profile musical career, it was actually Leonard Nimoy who struck musical gold first! Nimoy’s debut solo album Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space beat Shatner’s The Transformed Man by a year, in 1967. Both records are considered novelties, yet were followed up by even more albums. Shatner’s last, Ponder the Mystery (2013) featured Steve Vai and Rick Wakeman among many others.
In 1997, the Space Channel assembled a fantastic greatest hits compilation of both Starfleet officers’ best. In 2017, Sir Aaron the Surprising sent me a sealed copy on a lark. It was meant to be a gag gift, but little did Aaron know I’d actually wanted this CD for a long time! After all, Shatner’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” has long been a hilariously bad favourite, and Nimoy’s “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” truly is a hoot. Spaced Out! is a blast-off!
Shatner’s material tends to the so-bad-it’s-funny side of things. His spoken-word vocals definitely re-imagine many classic songs, including “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. Nimoy, meanwhile, uses his baritone to sing charming ditties like “I Walk the Line” and “If I Was a Carpenter”. In character as Spock, “Highly Illogical” is highly fun. Nimoy also had a knack for ballads, and perhaps just missed out on a career as a crooner?
Less successful, Leonard goes country on “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town”. He may have been able to play cowboys in movies, but playing one in music is much more difficult. Nimoy’s music leaned more to the mainstream, while Shatner’s was experimental, bombastic beat poetry to music. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “It Was A Very Good Year” is highly questionable.
Top Star Trek geek moment: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) took its name from a line in Shakespear’s Hamlet (1602). In Shatner’s musical recording, “Hamlet”, he actually recites that line a couple decades before the movie was made.
Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
But that the dread of something after death
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action
For fans, it’s ultimately cool to have a copy of Shatner reciting those lines.
Let’s not deceive anyone, Spaced Out! is a novelty. You will chuckle and cringe more frequently than you will tap your toes to the music. Trekkies/Trekkers owe it to themselves to add this to the collection to expand their own universes.