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Part of the appeal of his earlier album was that he was earnest and serious, despite the nonsense poured out. But here, the irony has turned in on itself creating one long paradoxical knot. Here's a 72 year-old actor narrating Pulp's "Common People" a song that defines Britain for anyone currently aged between 25 and 35, complete with a punk-rock middle-eight. It's impossible to discern if he's the joke or the listener is, or both, or neither. Likewise, the poetry by Shatner, backed by Lemon Jelly on "Together"--is this Lemon Jelly's toytown chillout gone too far? Whether it's good, and why depends entirely on the listener--is this the ultimate novelty record or something more credible? As Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel once said "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever" --Thom Allott
Ben Folds has created a superb musical environment for these songs(?), whilst Shatner's lyrics are often subtle and always honest. Did you ever see "Dumb & Dumber"? It's like that - it shouldn't work, but it does!
With input from Joe Jackson and Brad Paisley, among others, the album's only problem is that it's so good that it always draws your full attention. You have been warned!
"Has Been" opens with a cover of Pulp's Common People... while you may think that he's continuing in the same vein as Transformed Man, this is not the case and you cant help but take the album seriously once you're half way into it. Sure there are still smiles to be had, but they're of a different kind.
Produced by Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame) and featuring Adrian Belew, Joe Jackson, Lemon Jelly, Aimee Mann, Brad Paisley and Henry Rollins (amongst others) the musical composition actually oozes class. In Transformed Man, Shatners monologues were back by Star-Trekkish music - this is not the case with 'Has Been' and Shatner can be heard to actually sing correctly with choral or orchestral backgrounds.
Opening with a strong cover of 'Common People' that will have the listener smiling, the album follows with "It Hasn't Happened Yet" which sets the tone for what the album really is - it's about where Shatner is at the moment, and is a fairly personal album.
You'll have time is a strong track 3 designed to provoke thought, will at the least leave you smiling when constantly told that "you're gonna die." Other memorable tracks are the title track "Has Been" which is a stab at armchair critics "I can't Get Behind That" for one of the best last lines of a song ever.
If you liked Transformed Man in any way, this album is far better in every way. You wont be laughing at Shatner shouting familiar lines as if threatening the Klingons as Kirk, but you will come away appreciating the man more. You may not play the album much, but it's worthy of being in a collection.
I was wrong. This is a collection of 10 great songs and one spoken word track (he is an actor after all) That gets repeated listening time and time again in our house.
I hope the partnership of Shatner and Folds will continue to produce music of this remarkable quality. I will certainly buy the next one!
The Album is brilliant, it's fun in places and serious and honest in others. It's a well rounded album and since I got it it's been providing my life with much joy. I have never felt the need to write a review on Amazon before but this album impressed me enough to make me want to. Go out and buy it, it's the best thing you could do with £8.99.