Artist: "William Shatner"
Album: "Has Been"
Genre: Spoken Word
Label: Shout! Factory

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 1/18/2008

Review: Profound. I know, I know... it's not a word you'd normally associate with the guy who played the captain of the USS Enterprise, or the guy who sold his kidney stone online, or the guy who brought us "The Transformed Man". Well believe me when I say that William Shatner's "Has Been" album is the very definition of profound. But considering what the Rocket Man himself has worked on in the past, I suppose it will take a little more convincing for some of you to just run out and buy it. No problem, that's what I'm here for.

Shatner made a vocal cameo on Ben Folds' Fear of Pop album and the two became friends as a result. From there, they went on to collaborate on this Has Been album, with Ben Folds handling all of the musical arrangements and Shatner showing us a very different side of himself with extremely poignant lyrics. His lyrics cover the whole spectrum: from self-mockery and comical ranting to regret and heartfelt pain, Shatner holds absolutely nothing back, often exposing a vulnerability that few other people would.

The very first track on the album demands your attention immediately as Shatner's rendition of the classic Pulp tune "Common People" has more energy than just about any other song you'll ever hear (plus Joe Jackson appears as a guest vocalist on it). Other tracks such as "It Hasn't Happened Yet" and "That's Me Trying" serve more or less as polar opposites to the first track as Shatner quietly talks about the regrets in his life, his longing for some peace and reconciliations. No track, however, is more somber than "What Have You Done?" - a heartwrenching monologue in which he tells the story about discovering the body of his wife Nerine in the bottom of their swimming pool.

Other notable tracks include "I Can't Get Behind That", a manic track in which Shatner and Henry Rollins go back 'n forth, ranting about practically everything that annoys them. And then of course there's the "Has Been" title track which gives you a vision of Shatner riding off into the sunset upon his mighty steed as he gives the finger to all the critics out there. Hell, he even ends the album with the country song "Real" and manages to make it enjoyable, which is quite impressive, because I'm not a fan of country music (I do wish Brad Paisley didn't have to sing on this track though, it'd be far better with just Shatner on vocals).

There is no other album out there like this one and there never will be again. Shatner is truly an original and you owe it to yourself to give his Has Been album a listen. As far as I'm concerned, this is the crowning achievement of his lengthy career in showbiz. Forget about all his TV apearances... THIS is the real William Shatner, and he's certainly no has been.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Jan 17th, 2008, 09:10 AM
I don't care what anybody says to the contrary; this was one of the best albums of 2004. Brad Paisley was, however, one of my least favorite things about this album. I still wish there was a follow-up record but it's hard to imagine a second one up to this quality.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jan 17th, 2008, 10:44 AM
The Rollins duet is my favorite I think, but I gotta say this album is the culmination of a career arc. I've been championing Shatner as a force of nature or over twenty years now. I did an imitation of him reading Moody Blues poetry as part of my original stand up set in the early eighties. His halting, sometimes spazzy Captian Kirk rhythms informed acting style. I'm not claiming he was anything but a cheesy B actor, but he was the king of cheesy B actors and his presence catapulted everything he did past B acting into something entirely transcendent. When he first started doing comedy (Think that SNL sketch, or his performance in Airplane II or III, whichever it was) I think he really found his mark, and on Has Been, which has more than it's share of comic moments, he moves beyond classification into just being Shatner the way Brando was just Brando and Nicholson is just Nicholson.
Jan 17th, 2008, 11:36 AM
Really? Shatner? REALLY?? I mean if you guys say so I'll give it a try. Maybe I'm too young but my whole life this guy has just been a living joke.
Forum Virgin
Jan 17th, 2008, 07:50 PM
This is actually one of my favorite albums. I'm the music manager at Barnes and Noble and I put this cd up as a staff recommendation (I also play a couple tracks in the store over our stereo system) and I heard a customer say to his wife that if he had seen that was a staff recommendation he would have left immediately and not bought anything. My favorite songs are That's me Trying and You'll Have Time, any song with a choir singing the name Joey Ramone is awesome in my book.
frappez le cochon rouge
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:19 PM
I mistook Henry Rollins for Fred Willard. I love this whole damn album.
after enough bourbon ...
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Max, it was Airplane II (Gods I am such a nerd for knowing that) and he does the most incredible sendup of himself doing Captain Kirk ("The lights, they're FLASHING and they're BEEPING ...."). His charm is in not taking himself at all seriously - heck, look at all those Priceline commercials. I loved "The Transformed Man" by the way.
Jan 18th, 2008, 04:35 AM
The Shat is one of the coolest men alive. Kids these days don't have a clue, I tell you. "The Transformed Man" is fantastic, and his performance at the 1978 Sci-Fi Film Awards set a new standard. Five pickles all the way.

Now to set a new standard - of nerddom! Watch the Shat's masterful performance as Buck Murdock in "Airplane II" courtesy of Youtube:

Forum Virgin
Jan 18th, 2008, 04:52 PM
Got to agree with our dear Mr. Burbank here. The duet with Rollins is ten shades of brilliance. Anyone whose listened to that particular track has had to have some one else to sing along with them (ok maybe not SING per sey) as it was on.Great choice most honorable RoG!
Your Doing It Wrong
Jan 18th, 2008, 05:31 PM
One of the things I always loved about this album, was how pathetic every song title sounded. Even the record title sounded sad for the shat.....at least he can take that stuff in stride and not get upset every time someone plays "It hasn't happened yet".....

Shatner/Spock For President!!!
Jan 18th, 2008, 06:41 PM
I admit I haven't heard this yet, but I have been curious about it ever since I heard his interview where he plugged it on Preston and Steve (A free podcast I listen to in case you were wondering. :P ) I will have to give it a try when I go on my next CD spree.
Pickled Patriarch
Jan 18th, 2008, 09:11 PM
Just listen to a few samples of it on Amazon.com if you're not sold on it yet. Trust me, if you buy it, I guarantee you'll be replaying it constantly for a long time to come.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 20th, 2008, 11:12 AM
This is definitely my favorite album of 2004, and since Tom Waits came out with an album that same year, that says a LOT coming from me.
Jan 21st, 2008, 03:17 AM
wow, shatner? I will certainly try this out, thanks RoG
James Brown in hiding
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:07 AM
This album was just way too good. Why? Because William Shatner never takes himself seriously. Ever. It's all so damned hillarious and at the same time well put together. Plus I love Rollins. This guy will do anything if it's rad enough and hearing him and Shatner going tongue and cheek back and forth is nothing short of brilliance.

There's seriously ass-bad bands from Norway that could actually learn something from this album. Namely that if you're going to act like a fucking joke, at least enjoy it. And nothing says "no talent joke" like running around in studs and a leather codpiece. Shatner's more hardcore then the Viking poop-eaters. Shatner rules.
From the Home of MST3K
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:40 AM
Thanks for manning up to reality, Shatner, and not taking yourself any more seriously than the rest of us do.

I think the whole reason Shatner is still so popular is that he's realized that fans are more important than critics, that he was never that great of an actor to begin with, and that he has limitations that he can work with.

I think it's that open acceptance of his limitations that makes him so awesome.
Official forum judge
Jan 21st, 2008, 02:13 PM
Doesn't this album contain the track "No Tears For Ceasar". If so, I'm surprised that there was no mention of it in this article.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 21st, 2008, 05:46 PM
That track is definitely not on the album, unless there's an import version with bonus tracks or something.
Jan 30th, 2008, 05:40 PM
I am not surprised at all that an album from William Shatner is worth listening to.