This album offers far, far more than any of us could reasonably have expected from William Shatner this late in the game. He's eighty, for heaven's sake! Not to mention a vain, washed-up, overweight, toupee-wearing ham. And yet there are easily half a dozen tracks here that are, by any criteria, utterly superb. Obviously for sheer entertainment value there's Shatner's deathless take on 'Bohemian Rhapsody', against which even the Frank Sidebottom and Rolf Harris covers positively wither in comparison. And it's lovely to finally have (to use a Shatneresque split infinitive) a studio release for Shatner's signature performance of 'Rocket Man'. Just these two tracks alone make the album a worthy addition to any collection.
But, even with my tongue out of my cheek for a moment, unbelievably some of the heavy metal tracks here actually WORK! 'Empty Glass', 'Silver Machine' and 'Twilight Zone' in particular are played absolutely straight by Shatner's assembled galaxy of heavy-hitting sidemen, and these tracks really do take on an extra dimension from Shatner's gruff, eccentric delivery. In a good way. No, really, they do! Why the hell Shatner is recording heavy metal tracks at the age of eighty is anyone's guess, but he's done it with love, precision and real aplomb, and the results speak for themselves. As does Shatner, whose 'singing' remains utterly unique.
This would have definitely been a five star review if it had been edited down to the best dozen or so tracks. It has to be said that a few of the numbers here are a little half-hearted, and not everything works quite as brilliantly as the set's real stand out tracks do. Buy, hey, less is less and more is more, and at least having the full 20-song magnum opus allows us all to wallow for a full 90 minutes in the warped but oddly comforting world of William Shatner. I've lived with this CD for 8 months now, and it's much more than a throwaway novelty record. In its own peculiar way it's a richly satisfing and well-realised artistic statement, to which I've returned again and again with pleasure and humble amazement. If you loved Shatner's previous two skewed masterpieces, 'Has Been' and 'Transformed Man', then for sure you will love this one too. And may God have mercy on your soul.