Artist: "William Shatner"
Album: "Has Been"
Genre: Spoken Word
Label: Shout! Factory
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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