Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space

Leonard Nimoy - Mr. Spock's Music From Outer SpaceThe first solo album released by actor Leonard Nimoy after the original Star Trek began riding a wave of publicity in the 1960s, Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space is a curious creation, consisting in roughly equal parts of Nimoy singing, Nimoy performing spoken word pieces in character as Mr. Spock, and instrumental renditions of songs related to two television shows with which he would become closely identified: Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. (The inclusion of a cover version of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Impossible theme might seem to be a bizarre happenstance – Nimoy didn’t become a regular on that show until after Star Trek had run its course in the summer of 1969, two years after this album was released – but the entire album project was bankrolled and guided by Dot Records and Desilu Studios executives. As unlikely as it is that Nimoy even got a recording contract, it was all a carefully coordinated move to exploit Nimoy’s high visibility as the “real star” of Star Trek.)

Musically speaking, if all of this sounds like an utterly surreal combination, trust me – it is. The Star Trek theme appears in two forms, a lounge-music-style rendition of the entire theme, and a piece called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, which seems to be a variation/improvisation on the Enterprise fanfare which always served as the opening notes of the Trek theme. The Mission: Impossible theme tune, also a different arrangement from what was originally recorded for the television show, lacks some of the “official” rendition’s punch. Also appearing is “Beyond Antares”, a piece attributed to Star Trek writer Gene Coon and Wilbur Hatch, the man behind the theme tune from I Love Lucy who also happened to be the music director at Desilu Studios, the originators of Star Trek.

And then…there’s the actual “Spock music.” Nimoy performs spoken-word pieces in character as Spock on three numbers, “Alien”, “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Earth” and “A Visit To A Sad Planet”. “Twinkle Twinkle” is the lesser of this trio, being just plain silly, while “Sad Planet” is an interesting peek into the year and decade from which the album sprang; it takes the form of a short monologue, complete with stardate and log entry, in which Spock beams down to find a once-civilized planet reduced to radioactive rubble. He finds only one survivor, who poetically bemoans the fate of his world and then tells Spock that this sad planet is called Earth. It’s rather predictable, sure, but a fascinating (if you’ll pardon the pun) glimpse into the Cold War mindset through the lens of utterly disposable pop culture.

2 out of 4How seriously can you possibly take Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space? All I’m going to say here is that you know you’re in trouble when you go from a Spock soliloquoy to Nimoy rumbling his way through “Where Is Love” from Oliver!. I have no doubt that these represent earnest, well-intentioned, heartfelt performances on Mr. Nimoy’s part, but the album also inadvertently serves as a reminder that pre-fabricated releases designed to cash in on the performer’s already-existing celebrity are nothing new. Once upon a time, it could even happen to Spock.

  1. Theme From Star Trek (2:07)
  2. Alien (2:04)
  3. Where Is Love (2:03)
  4. Music to Watch Space Girls By (2:22)
  5. Beyond Antares (1:58)
  6. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Earth (2:21)
  7. Mission: Impossible (2:03)
  8. Lost In The Stars (2:32)
  9. Where No Man Has Gone Before (2:30)
  10. You Are Not Alone (2:07)
  11. A Visit To A Sad Planet (3:02)

Released by: Dot Records
Release date: 1967
Total running time: 25:09

Moody Blues – Days Of Future Passed

Moody Blues - Days Of Future PassedI’ll probably be lynched for saying this, but here goes: Days Of Future Passed, not Sgt. Pepper, was the best rock album to come out in 1967. I can buy the arguments that Lennon and McCartney are/were masterful songwriters, and even that Sgt. Pepper was a huge technical leap for rock music. But the sheer beauty and depth of emotion with which the Moody Blues imbued their most famous – and so far unparallelled – album puts it light-years of the material the Beatles were turning out at the time. Days of Future Passed paints a humblingly poetic view of the progression of a single day, and the music keeps getting better as the “day” in question goes on. Naturally 4 out of 4everyone remembers “Tuesday Afternoon” – which was here titled “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)” – and “Nights In White Satin”, but my all-time favorite Moody Blues song has to be the exotic Mike Pinder tune “The Sun Set”. The combination of an unusual rhythm and the flowing orchestral melody never fail to entrance me. It’s definitely on my DNP Album List.

Order this CD

  1. The Day Begins (5:55)
  2. Dawn is a Feeling (3:48)
  3. Another Morning (3:56)
  4. Peak Hour (5:27)
  5. Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) / (Evening) Time to Get Away (8:24)
  6. The Sun Set / Twilight Time (6:40)
  7. Nights in White Satin (7:32)

Released by: Deram
Release date: 1967
Total running time: 41:42