on 2 June 2005
I work in a Library and this CD came up as part of an exchange between library's in the pop section. Those of us who heard it all have differing taste etc, but we just loved this album. Your' gonna die is hilarious and I thank Mr Shatner for bringing such joy to what can sometimes be a world too full of its own self-importance.
This album is funny when it wants to be, serious when it wants to be, brilliant throughout. It's impossible to ridicule Shatner because he does it so well himself; he's got there first.
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!
on 7 October 2004
Anyone aware of Shatner will instantly think of MR TAMBORINE MAAAAAN! or Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, which either arouse hoots of laughter, or immediate hatred from those with no humour.
"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.
on 5 August 2015
4 stars for the extravagant style and for the fantastic cover of Common People.
I found out about Captain Kirk's second life and talent just through this album. Didn't know he used to make bizarre and theatrical covers of famous pop/rock songs already in the 70s.
This one is a great return and must be given a try even only for the fantastic cover of Common People (performed with Joe Jackson), even better than the original one.
Listening to his performances is impressive because it looks like you're watching him acting on stage. It's rare to have such a presence even without showing one's face and body. And it's also kind of surreal and self ironic, I guess
on 2 November 2004
...and totally succeeding. This album isn't what I expected it to be - after hearing the cover of Pulp's "Common People" (which is funny as anything, but works really well, especially towards the end) I thought it was going to be packed with covers with Bill talking over some of Ben Folds' piano noodlings.
I was wrong. Thankfully.
From start to end, I was totally shocked at how good the record was. From "I Can't Get Behind That", a joint rant between the Shat and Henry Rollins(!) of all people, to "That's Me Trying", a rather poignant piece about a father who'd lost touch with his daughter and was trying to fix it; Shatner's lyrics (poems? stories?) are heartfelt, funny, touching and completely honest, and I've all the more respect for the man for it. Ben Folds' production and performance (as well as the performances from the rest of the guests) are both brilliant, and from your first listen to any track other than "Common People", you can tell it's him behind the desk as well as behind the piano (or Rhodes, or organ, or keyboard, etc etc :D)
All in all, I'd say that if you want something a bit different to listen to, something that veers so far left of the mainstream that it's got its own little river of its own - get this NOW!
on 26 November 2004
I bought this as a present for my cousin, after listening to the awesome "I can't get behind that" expecting it to be a bit of a novelty and little more.
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!
on 4 January 2006
Bought this over Christmas as kind of a joke present for myself, but discovered that it is actually really, really good. Particular stand out tracks are Has Been, I Can't get behind that, and You'll have time. As another reviewer has said, Common people is one of the weaker tracks but I think that is more because I grew up on the original as opposed to it being bad. Buy this Album!
on 18 January 2006
I was looking forward to hearing this album. I wanted to play it to my friends and laugh "at" the actor turned singer wannabee. And to a certain extent I did. The sheer pretentiousness of it all. The knowledge that anyone with half a brain (singing voice not necessarily required) could have recorded this album. But I doubt there are few people who could do it like Will.
After five minutes of sniggering and pouring ridicule at the stereo I found myself holding my breath, waiting for the next slab of absolute cheese. As the Amazon Review says, there's a fine line between Genius and Idiocy, and I've ended up reassessing which side of the line Mr Shatner falls on.
I think part of it is the genuine honesty with which he attacks each song. He doesn't try to warble along, but instead recites the lines like poetry. After two or three tracks the style ceases to sound ridiculous and becomes oddly captivating.
My favourites have to be "You'll Have Time" and "I Can't Get Behind That", the former being a reminder that we'll all be eventually pushing up the daisies, the latter an ode to pet hates and rebellion against modern convention. "I am who I am and I don't care" being a rough stab at WM's motto.
The only low point in the album for me was the song about him discovering his wife's body. I'm sure he could argue that this was a deep personal experience for him, but I can't help but think it was still a little in poor taste.
So when would be the best time to play this album? If you've come home from work, had a bad day, and think everyone takes life too seriously then throw this on. I think it puts a lot of the stupid stuff in perspective and reminds you why you chase the important things.
on 3 May 2005
I bought this album after hearing Shatner's version of Common People featuring Joe Jackson on the radio and enjoying it immensely. The purchase was made despite Shatner's previous excruciatingly embarrassing track record (including his recent UK TV adverts - eek!): I reasoned that since Ben Folds had a hand in the album, it couldn't be that bad could it?
Thankfully, not only wasn't it bad, it was one of the most enjoyable and interesting CDs of 2004.
Many of the tracks are intensely personal and one gets the impression of an artist coming to terms with his life, his mistakes and mortality and baring his soul for all to see. 'It Hasn't Happened Yet' (about his perceived lack of success), 'That's Me Trying' (about his estrangement from his daughter) and the soliloquy 'What Have You Done' (about his wife's tragic death) display a stunning (almost shocking) truthfulness and honesty that I have rarely experienced in popular music. Truly courageous stuff.
Not that there aren't laughs: 'You'll Have Time' had me rolling with laughter despite it's subject material - why a song with the central message that 'You're Going to Die' is so funny evades me. 'Ideal Woman' is a light-hearted cha-cha-cha, Tex-Mex examination of the imperfections of relationships and the excellent Spaghetti-Western style 'Has Been' defiantly cocks a snook at his critics regarding a subject that has obviously rankled Shatner over the years. 'I Can't Get Behind That' is a straight two-handed rant about everything and nothing with Henry Rollins. 'Familiar Love' is a light, but oddly touching love song.
The only weak track on the album is the rather nebulous 'Together' which simply fails to engage.
The closing track 'Real' is Shatner echoing Leonard Nimoy's 'I am not Spock' plea, ('I am so much more') but no less entertaining for that.
As expected, Ben Folds arrangements and musical input does not disappoint.
I suspect that this album was a hugely catharthic and liberating experience for Shatner. This is an artist allowing us to view some private snapshots of his imperfect life (as he perceives it) and what he has learned from it.
I, for one, am extremely thankful that he had the courage to put out this remarkable album - one to make you laugh and cry - listen without prejudice.
on 10 October 2004
When i heard that William Shatner was releasing an album i was a little unsure what it would be like having not heard his 1968 offering "Transformed Man" (I don't really recommend buying that by the way)I am not a star trek fan so the praise I give to this album is not because i am a trekie but because of the album in its own right. The album is produced by the fantastic Ben Folds and his influence is heard on the album, but not to the point you think it's a Ben Folds album with William Shatner providing vocals. If you like Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five then the chances are you are going to enjoy this even though it's different. The Mix of music and spoken word interspersed with guest vocalist really works.
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.