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3.7 out of 5 stars6
3.7 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 October 2013
'Ponder the Mystery' arrives at warp speed from a parellel universe, where octogenarian actors pass their twilight years recording lavishly-produced albums of prog-rock and spoken-word philosophy. It is a much more ambitious album than 2011's 'Seeking Major Tom' but, sadly for Shatner fans, it's also a less enjoyable one. The problem with 'Ponder the Mystery' lies squarely with the music. Shatner's vocals are as peerlessly eccentric as you would expect, his philosophical contemplations of life, mortality and transcendence are everything you would hope for, but (and its a big but) the album is rendered almost unlistenable by the obtrusion on every track of 1970s-style jazz-rock-prog fusion and/or male-menopausal cock-rock guitar shredding. Sadly, it's the ugly guitars, syrupy saxophones and Billy Sherwood's horrible vocoded and autotuned vocals that hog centre stage in too many of the tracks, leaving far too little of the spotlight for Shatner himself.

Ben Folds, where were you?? With more sympathetic, less overblown arrangements, the album's strongest songs ('Where it's Gone I Don't Know', 'So Am I', 'Rhythm of the Night' and the title track) could easily have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best tracks on 'Has Been'. As it is, Shatner allows his songwriting and his performance both to be swamped by an enfolding miamsa of less-than-cosmic prog. It's a crying shame, and a real missed opportunity.

Despite the album's immense musical drawbacks, it's still bizarrely compelling, thanks only to Shatner's jaw-dropping speculations on life, death, the universe and everything in between. Who else in music is asking questions as big as these nowadays: Where does time go? What is the seed within the seed? Is death an ending or a beginning? What do wombats think about when they look at the moon? Shatner digs to the very core of his thespian skills to deliver these musings with the gravitas they deserve. It is impossible to listen and remain unmoved.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2013
Honestly, despite my love for... 'The Transformed Man' and... 'Has Been'; I'm afraid 'Seeking Major Tom' left me just too cold. A brilliant actor and orator with... excellent taste in music his... narrations of Bohemian Rhapsody et al... were... profoundly... appalling such that I... thought that I was finished with him as a recording artist. And then along comes 'Ponder The Mystery'...
I previewed just a couple of tracks online and was... absolutely hooked. In 'Has Been' his... words were self-effacing, brutally open and sardonic... In 'Ponder The Mystery' his words are just... too damned beautiful!
Tremendous musical accompaniment makes me think 'Progressive Rock' but without the twisted smile. The music is epic... orchestral... ROCK! And... Shatner weaves the pieces together with... his unique oratory... style. And... the words well, yes... he's talking about... aging, death, his love for his dog and... the many many things we... ever so easily... forget... to-appreciate!
Buy this record! You won't regret it and... listen to the kaleidoscope of sound... around the... genuine, wise words of... a man intelligent enough to recognise his faults... misdemeanors and approaching transformation...
I hope with all my heart that 'transformation' doesn't come too soon because for all of his faults, William Shatner has dared to go where 'No Man Has Gone Before,' - HAS BEEN ridiculed and yet still recognised as a pioneer of this genre of music... And I hope to hear his dulcit Canadian tones again before I have to listen to 'The Transformed Man' knowing that ironically his last act was described so beautifully... so long ago.
William Shatner, you are a Legend! And I've been playing 'Ponder The Mystery' on repeat for 4 days now... Brilliant!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2013
once again the great man has produced what will become a timeless classic. the raw emotion of his performance makes this even
better than seeking major tom
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2014
The Shatman strikes again.Reminded me a lot of those concept albums of the 60's and 70's with added Shatner.I found it an interesting album to listen to
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2014
I agree with Rough Diamond's review, apart from the final paragraph.

I loved "Has Been" and "Major Tom" and have defended them from all-comers but this just left me cold. I could barely hear Mr Shatner's voice over the dirge that is Billy Sherwood. Having looked him up and found he was a producer / engineer, I feel that that's the area in which he should have stayed; behind the mixing desk. Far, far behind the mixing desk. Preferably by several miles.

Absolutely ghastly, appalling album. After I listened to it, getting more and more disheartened by the track, I deleted it from my hard drive, never to trouble me again. I wish I'd bought the CD rather than the MP3 download, then at least I could have used it as a bird scarer on my vegetable plot.

Hey ho, let's hope the much underestimated Mr Shatner will make a wiser choice when he decides on his next musical collaborator... Perhaps he could remake this album with another, more talented chum?

PS Sadly it appears I have to give this at least one star, I did try not to give it any.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2013
Was looking forward to this release but on hearing it i was disappointed.
Not a patch on theprevious cd he released.
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