Friday, January 2, 2015

The Way I Feel - Leonard Nimoy

The Way I Feel
Leonard Nimoy
Dot Records DLP 25883

This may be the worst record that I own.  I would not normally keep a record this bad, but it is so dreadful that it is entertaining, fascinating even, to borrow an expression from Mr. Spock.  The main reason I keep it though is that I used to be a Trekkie and retain a soft spot for the original series even though I hung up my phaser a long time ago.  Spock was my favorite character and I have a lot of respect for Nimoy as an actor, but as a singer, yikes.  It is not that he is a terrible singer or has an awful voice, he just sounds wrong.  He is too uptight to be a pop singer and he lacks the authority to be a crooner.  He is more of a warbler who is frequently overwhelmed by the songs he's been assigned to sing, almost none of which suit him.  Surprisingly for a guy with such a distinguished speaking voice, his singing voice is almost comically weak.  The worst performances are his versions of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's poppy "It's Getting Better" (which was later a hit single for Cass Elliot.)  The songs are beyond Nimoy's range and his struggles with them are embarrassing.  I don't even like good versions of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" so hearing Nimoy's strained version is pure torture for me.  His ludicrous vocal embellishments and his dramatic interpretation of the song remind me of Bill Murray's comedy character Nick the lounge singer.  His performance of Pete Seeger and Lee Hays' "If I Had a Hammer" is just as overblown.  He sounds like a parody of a folk singer and the spoken patriotic finale is nauseating.  David Somerville and Bruce Belland's humorous "The Hitch-Hiker" is the weirdest track.  Nimoy sings the song in a terrible country-style accent that sounds like he is auditioning for "Hee-Haw."  "Here We Go 'Round Again" was written by Paul Evans and Paul Parnes.  Evans wrote some songs for Elvis and this inane song sounds like it would be more fitting for Presley than Nimoy who really struggles with it.  He does much better with Randy Sparks' "Billy Don't Play the Banjo Anymore" which makes less demands on his voice and has a subdued arrangement that is more sympathetic to his limitations.  My favorite track is "I'd Love Making Love to You" by Hollywood songwriter Hod David Schudson.  Nimoy does not sing it well, but his awkwardness is rather endearing and makes the corny lyrics sound more convincing.  My other favorite is his tasteful cover of John Hartford's "Love is Sweeter" which he sings competently and with feeling.  Nimoy wrote two of the tracks.  "Please Don't Try to Change My Mind" (co-written with Don Christopher) is a trite so-long-babe-I-gotta-ramble type song which he sounds comfortable singing.  Nimoy co-wrote "Consilium" with the record's producer Charles R. Grean.  The song is incredibly pretentious as Nimoy solemnly intones advice and philosophical platitudes, but I still find it entertaining because I like Nimoy's speaking voice.  Nimoy similarly speaks rather than sings "Where It's At" by novelty songwriter Cy Coben which addresses the meaning of life.  It is amusing to hear Nimoy seriously orating this hippie nonsense as if he was reciting Shakespeare.  In case you are wondering, according to Nimoy, "love" is where its at.  Groovy.  Although this record is comically inept, it does reveal some evidence that Nimoy might have made a decent record with better arrangements and more appropriate songs.  His voice is not unpleasant, it reminds me at times of Leonard Cohen.  He needed more songs like "Love is Sweeter."  Oh well despite its awfulness it is seldom boring and though I rarely play it, I'm glad I have it.  Recommended to Trekkies who wonder what it would sound like if Mr. Spock impersonated a hippie.

No comments:

Post a Comment