Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Star Trek-Themed Bands: Where No Musician Had Gone Before?

Most of them are still languishing in relative anonymity, but do Star Trek themed bands have not only musical merit but do they even dare to creatively go where no musician had cone before?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe it was those records that date back from the 1960s documenting the singing of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy when memories of the original Star Trek series were still fresh that most of us immediately question the musical merits of the singing careers of former Star trek casts. After seeing and hearing Leonard Nimoy singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins you would be asking yourself too if records (they have only vinyl LPs back then) made by former Star Trek casts – and William Shatner is probably the most prolific of the bunch - constitute genuine musical merit?

Even recent cast members of the Star Trek universe, like Keith Carradine’s guest appearance in Star Trek: Enterprise had some Trekkies / Trekkers checking out Carradine’s I’m Easy album released back in 1976. Making that notorious Stereo Review September 1976 music review of Keith Carradine’s I’m Easy by Noel Coppage a topic of recent discussion of my local Star Trek fandom. Especially that part when Noel Coppage declared, “An actual musician could have made this recording, but he wouldn’t have.” Given the perennially “low opinion” of Star Trek related music, do Star Trek themed bands and Star Trek tribute bands not only have genuine musical merit, but do they really go – creatively at least – where no musician had gone before?

Star Trek tribute/ themed/ inspired bands whose ontological definition now cover such a large scope that they are as almost as old as Star Trek fandom itself. Back in 1987, a singer or band called T’Pau – named after that Vulcan high priestess who oversaw the death-match between Captain Kirk and Spock – allowed their green eyed redhead of a singer to score a Billboard Chart hit titled Heart and Soul. Even the rise of Techno music during the 1990s hasn’t spared us from the atmospheric and trip-hop remixes of the orchestral Alexander Courage Star Trek musical themes. But do Star Trek themed bands have the potential for artistic and musical merit – let alone popularity?

When Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus Denise Crosby set out to investigate the global Star Trek phenomenon in Trekkers 2. The musical world was finally introduced to a bunch of Star Trek tribute / theme bands that not only has musical merit, but wrote songs that many non Trekkies and non Trekkers find appealing. The Sacramento, California based Star Trek tribute band called No Kill I whose rockabilly driven punk rock reminiscent of the Ramones and Lunachicks will probably earn them fame beyond the Star Trek universe if major labels in America are adventurous enough to sign them. No Kill I even started a host of variants – like the original Star Trek series achieved – like No Kill I: The Next Generation and No Kill I: Deep Space Nine who are as interesting as the original No Kill I that started it all. Will a No Kill I: Voyager or No Kill I: Enterprise be not that far behind?

Even though I liked all of the Sacramento, California based Star Trek tribute bands interviewed by Denise Crosby, the one I find indispensable is the extreme metal band called Stovokor. Named after the Klingon afterlife where warriors that had died a worthy death are destined to go, Stovokor to me is probably the most likely Star Trek tribute band to attract non Star Trek fans due to their Death / Grindcore / Thrash Metal based stile. Complete with Klingon prosthetic makeup and costumes that would have Heavy Metal Music fans comparing them to 1992 era GWAR, Stovokor is not only a serious metal band loaded with enough low frequencies to stun and even kill your average Star Trek ignorant bystander. Stovokor are probably the only band in active service that’s truly Klingon Opera ready. Will a Klingon Heavy Metal Opera be not that far behind too? Stovokor should give this a try.

For those Star Trek fans who still harbor the perception that the only Star Trek themed band / tribute band in existence is Russell Watson backed by musicians playing a Dianne Warren composition during the opening of Enterprise. There is a wider universe out there populated with Star Trek themed / tribute bands that even though only have a tenuous connection to over 40 years of Star Trek franchise, almost all of them have enough creativity to be worthy of musical merit. Only time will tell if Star Trek tribute bands like No Kill I and its various incarnations and the Klingon themed Heavy Metal band Stovokor ever reach the upper echelons of the Billboard Charts – or just languish in anonymity like some esoteric fad. Like that Klingon Santa Claus from Germany.


VaneSSa said...

Stovokor should write their own version of a Klingon Rock opera. These are still quite rare, there are a few rock operas in existence like Queensr├┐che's Operation: Midcrime. Maybe the next Star Trek movie should feature Lady Gaga as an Orion courtesan.

May Anne said...

I did "hazily" remember that band called T'Pau back in 1987 with their Billboard Top 40 hit that reached to number 4 in the US Charts called Heart and Soul. The band said in a radio interview that they've named themselves after that Vulcan priestess who oversaw the death-match between Captain Kirk and Spock in the original series of Star Trek. Carol Decker - T'Pau's lead singer - whose hair color was also a subject of controversy back when they were still famous. Some say it's burgundy blonde, some say a redhead, etc. Just like Dr. Beverly Crusher's hair color when Star Trek the Next Generation was still on air.
Klingon-themed band Stovokor should do a rock opera because these are still rare. The first one ever done was S.F. Sorrow by the British psychedelia band called The Pretty Things which pre-dated the Who's Tommy by a few months. And the other one is Operation: Mindcrime by Queensr├┐che.
I think Lady Gaga would be perfect as a green-skinned Orion courtesan in the next Star Trek movie, given her brilliant use of S&M bondage gear as haute couture.

Je M'Apelle Ja'Nelle said...

After seeing the official video of Liberty Bell by The Gathering back in 1998, I've always thought that this band was in the running for sing the opening theme of Enterprise. The video also reminds me of that famous "film" made by John Millerman - given that Anneke van Giersbergen looked like Silvia Saint on the Liberty Bell video.
Isn't the Lunachicks based Spoilt the Musical a Heavy metal opera? The various incarnations of No Kill I should do a punk rock opera. Or is this as unlikely to get off the ground like Gorn Porn?

Yvette said...

Surprisingly, I liked all of the Star Trek themed / tribute bands interviewed by Denise Crosby in Trekkies 2. Although the chances of Stovokor and No Kill I (original series, next generation, and deep space nine) scoring a Billboard Chart topper is about as likely as the cast of Glee celebrating Gloria Steinem day by singing Fallopian Rhapsody by Lunachicks.
Given her use of S&M bondage gear as haute couture, I think Lady Gaga is better suited to playing as a Borg Queen in future Star Trek movies - a Borg Queen thats into Gorn Porn!

Sans Ferdinand said...

Given Gene Roddenberry's views on the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and his kinship with His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, I think bands that support the Tibetan Freedom movement like The Beastie Boys and Philip Glass with his annual Tibet House musical extravaganza can be considered a Star Trek themed band.

VaneSSa said...

Those interested in Star Trek themed erotica should also check out The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway.

Sherry said...

Are Star Trek themed "erotica" - like the Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway a part of the official Gene Roddenberry approved Star Trek canon?

Sans Ferdinand said...

The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway? Is this "series" part of the original Gene Roddenberry official series canon?

Ringo said...

At the moment, I'm still on an on-going research checking out whether Star Trek themed "erotica" - i.e. The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway and Gorn Porn - are a legitimate part of the original Gene Roddenberry approved series canon. Please check this site out for further updates on the matter.