Picard Of The Pops: LEONARD NIMOY

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They'll be calling Chris Morley a radical, liberal, fanatical...

Perhaps it was his old friend William Shatner who gave Leonard Nimoy a gentle nudge in the direction of spoken word/music - but sadly no cover of Supertramp's Logical Song graces any of the albums the man who was Spock recorded.

Between 1967 & 1970, the curious listener could have got their ears, pointy or otherwise, around five albums from Nimoy, beginning with Mr Spock's Music From Outer Space.

The move from the screen to record came about at the behest of Dot Records, whose Charles Grean had wanted to make a space-themed album based on Star Trek. His daughter was a fan of the Vulcan, & how could anyone say no? As Leonard would remember,
"Well, if you're going to do an album of music from Star Trek, then Mr. Spock should be on the album."
So began one of the most bizarre concepts ever set down in the name of pop as he recorded the whole of at least his first album as his alter-ego. The songs contained many outer-space elements along with science fiction-themed narrations, and space sound effects.

Nimoy's father Max had earlier envisioned musical success of a rather different nature for his son! "Learn to play the accordion," he urged. "You can always make a living with an accordion."

Not taking his father's advice, his second release, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, followed much the same pattern as his debut album, before a radical sea change!

Something similar to Beatlemania broke out around the release of Nimoy's first two albums, as Maiden Wine recalled......
"The throngs at [Nimoy's] public appearances sometimes got so out of hand that he was forced to resort to Beatles-like escapes. At one autograph signing for the new album at a Long Island department store, the crowd began straining toward him so much that the protective gates started to collapse. The store manager whisked him away to the back offices, but now they were trapped with no way out except back through the crowd. They wound up placing a call to the fire department and then climbing up to the roof, where they were rescued by hook-and-ladder."
On the final three albums he stepped out of space, singing as himself which allowed him to show off his folkier side with covers of the likes of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now & Pete Seeger's If I Had A Hammer, both heard on The Way I Feel.

1969's The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy found him continuing with the folk sound and direction with a collection of songs about optimism, political awareness, the human condition, living together, and love.

Spock managed to make an appearance, of sorts, as the album includes the track Maiden Wine which was featured in the Star Trek episode, Plato's Stepchildren. It is the song sung by Spock while he was being manipulated by the Platonians in 2268...

The following year's The New World Of Leonard Nimoy saw him go all out for his fifth and final album, with tracks made famous by Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fred Neil, and Kenny Rogers...

While promoting The New World Of....Nimoy would meet Jimi Hendrix, no less. As he explained to Classic Rock,
“During the course of the evening, somebody came to me and said, ‘Jimi Hendrix is in the next room. He heard you were here, he would like to come and say hello. I thought about it for a nanosecond, and I said ‘bring him in.’”
Alas, no jam session ensued, though glowing tribute was paid as Leonard later called him ''a great, great artist''.

A second wind came when a sample of his Trek dialogue was used in the Information Society's 1988 hit What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy). Billboard draw attention to it in considering his US singles chart performances...
"It's actually Nimoy you hear saying the phrase "pure energy" throughout the song. The tune excerpted bits of dialogue from the Star Trek TV series, including a line from Nimoy in the 1967 episode "Errand of Mercy," where he says the phrase "pure energy.""

Although he would never escape the shadow of Spock, at least Nimoy's outside interests were remembered amid the tributes following his sad death.
"It was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”), but his artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets."
A Telegraph retrospective was a little harsher on his musical dabblings.
"He had an ill-fated and unusual foray into music, releasing five albums. The first two were science fiction-themed, titled 1967's Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr Spock's Music from Outer Space and Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (1968). Though often derided, they were a source of much amusement for some fans.

Among the best known of his songs is The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, which featured on his second album. It has a psychedelic video full of dancing girls and has since taken on a life of its own."

"The lyrics - Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins/ He's only three feet tall/ Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins/ The bravest little hobbit of them all - have been performed live by the cast of Peter Jackson’s films and Nimoy reprised the song in a 2013 Mercedes ad, co-starring the “other” screen Spock Zachary Quinto."

The burning question now must be, was Roger Hodgson inspired by Nimoy to write the aforementioned Logical Song?

In a word, no, but its impossible not to think of the Vulcan in consideration of selected lyrics, no?
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.
The questions undoubtedly run too deep for such a simple man, or woman, to again paraphrase Supertramp. But nonetheless a suitable B-side to sit alongside his friend & on screen captain in our studies of both men's musical output!

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