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Seeking Major Tom: William Shatner - Unique and moving interpretations.
on 4 July 2012
William Shatner must go down in history as one of the world's most unique interpretive artists. With `The Transformed Man', he produced a record that took several well known songs and readings, and transformed them into something so sublimely, er, different that it stirred deep emotion in the listener's soul. It was 40 years before he made another album, obviously thinking that his statement had been so definitive that there was no need to return to the recording studio.
2004's `Has Been' saw him stamp his individual mark on `Common People', before going on to give us some renditions of his own poetry. Again, it was an attention grabbing album and left the public's appetite for his work so sated that it was another 8 years before he was allowed to return to the studio.
And what has he produced for his third album? Here we have the concept album that I feel has been lurking inside Shatner for many years, struggling against the tide of popular opinion and good taste to get out. Riffing off his persona of Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise, he treats us to a host of tracks that tell the story of Major Tom - the second oddest space oddity after Shatner himself. He uses many classic tracks themed around space to explore Major Tom the man, and to try and tell the story of what happened where David Bowie's famous song left off. We are treated to Shatner's quite inimitable renditions of such well known classics as Spirit in the Sky, Bohemian Rhapsody, Space Trucking and, in the final coup de gras, Iron Man. Aided and abetted in his endeavours by a host of well known musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Ritchie Blackmore and Peter Frampton, they try to hold our man back, but his indomitable talents shine through and overpower their contributions. In many ways it is a work of genius, after listening to this for the first time I appreciate the sheer beauty of Ozzy Osbourne's singing, and Sting's musical talents. I am sure that David Bowie will be moved to tears at this treament of his opus. All the way through Shatner alternates between angry, pained and mystified. On many occasions you really feel the pain. And you come away with the vague hope that he never finds Major Tom - there are moments of anger where you really fear what he might do to the poor sod when he catches up with him. He might even force him to listen to this record.
In the end it is another masterpiece from Shatner. He is either deadly serious or winking at you in a clever self parody, but whether you choose to laugh along with the joke or take it all seriously I am sure you will find much to enjoy. It's fast establishing itself as a firm favourite with me, and I just have to give it 5 stars. I just hope that he sees he has reached the apogee of musical greatness, and I truly believe that to release any more would spoil his unparalleled musical legacy...