Upon an afternoon foray into Leamington, I discovered a thing of wonder in Head, the resident cheap CD/DVD shop. It’s a lot like Rise or Fopp, but with a different name and a lesser selection. Strolling through the rock/pop section, I spied the name ‘William Shatner’. Thinking it might be some of his spoken word stuff, but in the wrong section, I decided to take a peek, and what I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I found Spaced Out: The Best of Nimoy and Shatner, a collection of the various musical works they’d put out between 1967 and 1970. I had no idea that they even had musical works. So, being the Trekkie I am, I decided to pick it up (plus it was only £4, so why not?) and well… somebody other than me has to know about it, so here’s a review!
The collection is weighted heavily towards Nimoy’s work, because apparently, he had a lot. However, the CD opens on a Shatner song, which is… well, less of a song and more of a monologue over some acoustic guitar. King Henry The Fifth, followed by Elegy Of The Brave is just one of Shatner’s takes on Shakespeare upon the album, and it’s rather epic, in the classical sense of the word. In Hamlet, Shatner picks up from where Hamlet has just killed his father and decides to get into Hamlet’s mind, echoing his famous monologue – “To be or not to be, that is the question”. It’s backed by a beautifully minimalist orchestral score which intensifies throughout the speech – and it sounds wonderfully melodramatic. Hamlet is most definitely the standout track out of Shatner’s pieces. Most of Shatner’s contributions to the CD are in fact, more spoken than sung, particularly on his cover of Mr Tambourine Man, where he decides not to emulate the jolly, happy mood of the song and instead recites the lyrics rather overdramatically, with an absolutely terrifying ending, where he almost screams “Mr Tambourine Man”, leaving the song on a rather sour note. It’s disturbing, but effective. His take on Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is somewhat less disturbing, but awfully… shit. The melodramatic recitation of the lyrics with a bad echo effect is most definitely not an improvement on the original, and I really dislike The Beatles. However, what makes it somewhat glorious at the same time is the transition from Shatner’s reading to an incredibly happy chorus. Straaaaange.
As I mentioned previously, Nimoy pretty much dominates this collection and it’s with good reason, because he can actually sing, and sing very well! He also had a far more prolific career musically than Shatner ever did. There’s a good selection included, ranging from covers to his own material based upon Star Trek and… wait for it… Lord Of The Rings. No lies. The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins is wonderfully camp, and I think that we have the 60s to thank for that. Comedy factors aside, it’s a ridiculously catchy song about Bilbo’s travels through Middle Earth. The Star Trek songs are equally great, with Highly Illogical, based on Spock’s view of human relationships, being one of the best songs on the compilation. A Visit To A Sad Planet, a log entry to music, is as melancholy as its name suggests, with a fantastic minor score and a chilling message. His covers are also well chosen and interesting – whilst Nimoy doesn’t stray too far from the originals (see Where Is Love if you can find it), he still makes them his own and they sound great. The best of his wide selection is probably his cover of I Walk The Line, which just sounds awesome, possibly because he’s not taking it too seriously. And that’s the joy of all of Nimoy’s songs on the CD – they’re fun!
Ultimately, if you aren’t a Trekkie, then it’s an entirely pointless collection. However, for those who love their Star Trek, it’s an interesting insight into the wider careers of both Shatner and Nimoy and there are some truly great songs on here. Definitely check it out if you’re a Star Trek fan, and if not… well, maybe just the Bilbo Baggins song for some universal chuckles.
3 out of 5 high fives!