People sometimes ridicule actors and actresses when they decide to produce a song and/or album. After all, what do they know about music? The reality is that some are good singers as well as actors, just as there are good singers who begin acting and find they’re good at that. Of course, not everyone makes the grade and that’s when you can get a good chuckle. One interesting venture is Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, a collection of both Trek actors’ musical endeavors. After a thorough audio sensor scan, I’m happy to report there are signs of musical talent on it. However, this 24-track CD has some surprises on it, both pleasant and shocking, and at times, you’ll want to set phasers to mute.
Much has been said about William Shatner’s infamous album, The Transformed Man. Some of the tracks have become so well-known for being so bad that they’ve been collected in other albums featuring the worst of the worst. It would be a stretch to say this is a good record but give Shatner credit for trying something different here. Rather than trying to sing, he does spoken word versions of various songs. There are also a couple Shakespearean soliloquies that remind you the Shat cut his acting teeth in a Royal Shakespearean Theatre. The Shat’s spoken word performances have taken on iconic status, arguably due to his live rendition of “Rocket Man,” which was brilliantly parodied in an episode of Family Guy. Through the years, the Shat has made several albums, including his collaboration with Ben Folds Five, Has Been, and Seeking Major Tom, his two-disc collection of his spoken word takes on space-themed songs such as “Major Tom,” “Space Oddity,” and “Learning to Fly” (The Shat’s version of “Iron Man” is priceless even though its inclusion on a space-themed album is suspect). Sadly, none of those are contained here and those looking for more traditional vocals i.e. singing, will have to rely on Leonard Nimoy’s entries.
Nimoy to his credit, has a good voice that may surprise you. I don’t know how much of his singing was sweetened by the magic of the recording studio, but it sounds good. This album compiles songs from several of his albums and quite frankly, they are a good collection. While “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” music video has been known to induce LDS flashbacks in hippies, the song itself it catchy (Keep in mind that The Lord of the Rings novels were popular around the time of Star Trek). The album even includes a couple songs of Nimoy in character as Spock. One, “Spock Thoughts” is compelling as Spock dishes out wisdom on living a good life and “A Visit to a Sad Planet” which is a cautionary tale to Earthlings. Nimoy’s baritone voice is pleasant and he uses it to full effect on the many cover songs contained in Spaced Out. Nimoy’s best work is on ballads and folk songs. Spaced Out is a curiosity piece for the most part but Nimoy’s songs shouldn’t be considered a vanity project. In the end, the best way to describe this album is a pleasant surprise.
Unfortunately, the album doesn’t include any songs from other Original Series stars. Nichelle Nichols recorded music albums but you won’t find any of them here. It’s too bad the album didn’t have at least one Nichols song, just to hear how she sounds. I can’t imagine buying her CD but including it on this compilation could have been an incentive for fans curious about picking up one of her CD’s.
If you’re looking for a nice rendition of a Shakespeare soliloquy, this is a good place. If you’re looking for a good laugh as the Shat does spoken word versions of 60’s hits, this is it. If you’re looking to be surprised at how well Leonard Nimoy sings, this too is it. The album even includes a couple songs of Nimoy in character as Spock. One, “Spock Thoughts” is compelling as Spock dishes out wisdom on living a good life. Spaced Out is worth a listen, particularly if you have a streaming service such as Amazon Prime.