I paid $14 for William Shatner's recent spoken-word CD.
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If it weren't the interesting, novel and entertaining thing that it is, I might've asked you all to pray for me.
Ben Folds and several other musical celebrities collaborated with the Starship Captain on this varied collection of humorous, morbid, surprising and insightful pieces, backed up by co-writer and producer Fold's excellent rock ensemble.
Shatner is his unmistakable self. Perhaps because we can't see him and his trademark (and often-scoffed) gesticulations, we can bear and even appreciate his equally trademark (and often-scoffed) verbal delivery. He manages to completely obfuscate his Star Trek associations, indeed, and we don't think of Captain Kirk so much (if at all).
Listeners, even post-Original Trek 'Trekkers' (as they are now called) may well miss that stumbling block completely, so far removed from these things is this material.
My favorite selection above all, in fact a main reason I bought the CD is 'You'll Have Time', in which Shatner reminds us profusely and cynically that "you're gonna die," and that "you'll have time" to think about it as the event encroaches. This CD will be at my deathbed (should I have such advance warning of my demise) right next to my beloved Black Sabbath collection. Absolutely.
This CD was actually released during the 2004 Halloween season, which was likely a point of humor for Shatner. He knows many people find him strangely scary (especially if you've seen 'Incubus'), and much of his subject matter on 'Has Been' IS dark. Most telling is that I first spied the newly-released CD on its themed cardboard display in a seasonal Halloween costume store, and the cover is black, white and electric green. Shatner holds his head in his hands, meekly and mournfully peeking between his fingers at the thought of being a 'has-been'. (He clearly is not, noting the success of his new series 'Boston Legal', for which he has won an award as best supporting actor.)
One of the things that makes William Shatner interesting and truly a person apart from his famous television alter-ego is his ability to pick up associations as youthful as rock'n'roll artists, however intellectual. Ben Folds' music goes over the heads of most American music audiences. Thus, he makes a wise choice and perfect fit for Shatner as a collaborator. Shatner praises him highly in the liner notes, and rightly so.
For those of you who enjoy spoken-word performances, I rate this MUCH higher than ANYTHING Henry Rollins is doing. It also works nicely for those who are desperate for something different, or even as a particularly jolting gag gift. (No offense, Captain.)
For what it is, I give it a five out of five.