He's not just James T. Kirk. He's also the best spoken-word musical artist ever. And Denny Crane!
see Ben Folds, Ben Folds Five
Suggested first purchase: Has Been
The Transformed Man (1968) -- Most people treat this album as a joke. I don't, but it is difficult to be in the mood to listen to William Shatner doing his talk-singing over pompous arrangements of "Mr. Tambourine Man," "It Was a Very Good Year," and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." In the end, I have to admit that it works better as novelty than something to pop in and really listen to. Luckily, Ben Folds provided a better place for Shatner's unique delivery almost forty years later with the album Has Been.
Has Been (2004) -- Something magical happened in the early 00s with William Shatner. Star Trek, TJ Hooker, his interpretations of "Rocket Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," and other humorous (intentional or not) events made him a kind of joke... usually he was in on the joke, and the jokes were loving, but he was primarily seen as a humorous individual nonetheless. If you managed to hear 1998's Fear of Pop album though (Ben Fold's first album away from the Ben Folds Five), you'd have heard what William Shatner was capable of when aided by someone who respected him. The song "In Love" is touching with every single listen, and fantastic -- a hard thing for a spoken word-based song -- and the reason was William Shatner's delivery. The beauty and idea of this track was eventually expanded into a full Shatner album (his second album since 1968's The Transformed Man), Has Been. It's worth noting that William Shatner absolutely saved the day with his Top Ten TV Characters of All Time (says me) character Denny Crane on The Practice and its spinoff Boston Legal. Finally, William Shatner was given a role that not only showed off his sense of humor and odd delivery, but also his seriousness, enormous power and presence, dignity, and ability to break our hearts. All of these elements went into Has Been as well, combined with Ben Folds' music. Ben Folds and William Shatner are very alike in many ways. Both are largely seen as goofy, but on further examination are very serious and important. Both have Elton John associations. I could probably keep going, but suffice it to say that they fit really well together. As far as the album itself goes... This version of "Common People" manages to outdo the already-great Pulp version (featuring Joe "Steppin' Out" Jackson), "That's Me Trying" shows us some of that heartbreak I was talking about, "Has Been" manages to be goofy and great, "I Can't Get Behind That" has provided me and my buddies with a new catch phrase, and "Real" sort of sums it all up for us. It's a beautiful album, perfect to listen to at night. Thank God we are in the decade of Shatner. A
Copyright (c) Nov 2004 - Jan 2007 by Rusty Likes Music