Where else could you hear the late actor Sebastian Cabot intone Bob Dylan’s ”All I Really Want to Do” as if he were reading a bedtime story? Or Leonard Nimoy warble ”Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” turning it into an off-key Vulcan love song? Rhino Records, the Santa Monica, Calif., label that specializes in reissues and the offbeat, has just unleashed Golden Throats 2, its second treasury of pop and rock standards performed by celebrities not necessarily celebrated for their singing.
”My initial inspiration came (in 1984) when I found a copy of William Shatner’s album, The Transformed Man, in the used bin at a record store for 25 cents,” says Pat Sierchio, who was then working in the Rhino warehouse with his producing partner, Gary Peterson. Shatner’s LP had been released in 1968, at the height of Star Trek’s popularity. The record featured hit songs of the time — like his psychotic, talked/shouted version of the Beatles’ ”Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” that is included on the original Golden Throats — interspersed with passages from Shakespeare. It was a concept album — one that crashed to earth quicker than you could say, ”Beam me up, Scotty.”
The new Throats boasts such nuggets as Sammy Davis Jr. doing a finger- snappin’, woefully ”hip” version of Isaac Hayes’ ”Theme From Shaft,” (produced, incredibly enough, by Hayes himself), as well as Mel Torme working out on ”Sunshine Superman,” Mae West purring her way through ”Light My Fire,” Jack Jones crooning Little Feat’s ”Dixie Chicken,” Watergate scourge Senator Sam Ervin reciting ”Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Phyllis Diller’s mistake on ”Satisfaction,” which is littered with hoary one-liners like ”I wore a see-through dress…and nobody looked.”
As Diller now recalls, ”I had no idea what I was singing. They just told me to do it like Mick Jagger. Of course, I had to keep my top on.”
Says coproducer Peterson, currently planning a new volume of country howlers, ”Some of the versions are so — I don’t like to use the word bad-but they’re so unusual, they transcend unlistenability.”
Most of the star victims have taken the unearthing of their efforts with good humor. When a local L.A. morning radio team played Shatner’s wacky version of ”Lucy in the Sky,” Captain Kirk himself called in to explain his inspiration. ”Since it was supposed to be a drug song,” he later told Playboy, ”I sang it as if I were on drugs.” He succeeded.