Top positive review
297 people found this helpful
Where No Manure Has Gone Before
on April 25, 2003
I used to think the funniest unintentionally funny thing I'd ever heard was Lorne Green, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon butchering the theme from "Bonanza." Then I got this album. The tone-deaf stars of "Bonanza" have nothing on "Star Trek's" William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, whose insatiable TV-star egos pushed them to record music and monologues that transcend mere mediocrity and ineptitude, constituting an alien art form that defies earthly description. Whatever it is, it's the best of it, or the worst, depending upon your point of view. You'll love it passionately, like I do, or you'll despise it with every fiber of your being, like my wife does. There's no middle ground here.
Shatner's contributions, dramatic monologues set to florid music and rock songs performed with straightjacket intensity, are all taken from his legendary album "The Transformed Man." No one is safe from the shame of Canada: The hallowed words of Shakespeare, Lennon-McCartney and Bob Dylan are trampled and tortured in Shatner's patented overripe acting style, turned up to eleven. Shatner's anguished cry of "Mr. Tambourine Man!!!!" at the end of that song is so unexpected and frightening, it would kill a strolling minstrel dead in his tracks. I must confess, I'm a sucker for Shatner's histrionics, and I admire the chutzpa it took to be a performance artist of such...uniqueness. "It Was a Very Good Year," with Shatner exercising restraint (for him), actually achieves a certain elegance. It's my favorite burst of Shatnerian flatulence.
Nimoy was much more ambitious than Shatner, churning out a mind-boggling five albums of folk, country-western and soft rock covers. Saccharine ballads such as "Sunny" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" painfully expose the limitations of Nimoy's earnest baritone as he croons in keys that would make a stuffed dog howl. (Remember how Spock sounded in the throes of a Vulcan mind-meld with the Horta? Put that to music and you get the idea.) To be fair, some of his efforts are admirable. Nimoy's yearning vocal on "Where Is Love" is heart-rending, and he does a pretty fair imitation of Kenny Rogers on "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town."
There's also a smattering of screamingly hokey spoken word pieces written by one Charles R. Grean, which Nimoy delivers in character as Spock amid clouds of celestial music reminiscent of the work of "Star Trek" composer Alexander Courage. The best of these is "Spock Thoughts," a litany of hilarious platitudes that includes this priceless advice: "Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant. They, too, have their story to tell!"
The album's Masterpiece is surely "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins," Grean's musicalized Cliff Notes retelling of Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Demented, charming and impossible to dislike, it's a groovy tune straight out of Monty Python, and Nimoy sings it with gusto.
While most of Nimoy's efforts are laugh-fests, it's hard to fault his commitment: He was clearly serious about his music. Luckily for his ardent fans, no one in Nimoy's orbit had the guts to tell Spock he had no clothes.