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Nothing short of astonishing,
This review is from: Has Been (Audio CD)
William Shatner - cult.
So let's now forget that, and look at the album as a stand-alone work.
It works. Whether you like it or not will depend on whether you can deal with spoken lyrics, whether you like the timbre of Shatner's voice (I do) and what you think of the musical contributions.
I like everything about this album, apart from a brutal over-sincerity, which feels like walking in on someone when they're getting undressed - only on a couple of tracks, mind.
The cover of Common People is just terrific - not because it's a great song, or because I knew it - but because it is visceral and powerful in a way that Jarvis' fey delivery and vision never could be. It's a punkish version, with Joe Jackson's nasal snarl the perfect foil to Shatner's animated and, I have to say, very cerebral delivery. There is a real intellect at work throughout this album, and it shines particularly strongly on this track - Shatner imbues real emotion and thought in his vocal performances throughout.
When he's not being too personal, there is a real warmth and wit on display. Never more so than in the title track: "Has been.... might again!"
"I Can't Get Behind That" is one of the most energetic, fresh and fun tracks you may ever live to hear.
Which brings us neatly to the atmosphere and prowess of the music production on the album, which I consider to be top-notch and near-flawless. Be it kitsch-pastiche ("Familiar Love"), Rawhide clone ("Has Been") or faux-Gospel ("You'll Have Time"), there's an endless playfulness which never insults the listener.
So, in considering this as a marriage of artist and material, as opposed to an ego-fest for Bill Shatner the Star Trek refugee, it's a real revelation. And quite possibly the finest work he's ever done!