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I paid $14 for William Shatner's recent spoken-word CD.
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.

------
The Alienist
jhfurnish@yahoo.com


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The following comments are for "Review : William Shatner - 'Has Been' (spoken-word)"
by The Alienist

Alienist
You're back! I haven't read anything by you in forever, it seems. And you come blazing back with . . . a review of Bill Shatner's new CD? hahaha.

And yes, it IS a surprisingly good CD. I picked it up after I heard "Common People".

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: February 17, 2005 )

...but not as we know it
I was a rabid Star Trek and sci-fi fan, but I fail to connect with the latest iterations of either. Likely, it's just me. Should we ever get together(and that might be a hoot) please play this for me, and I'll spend $14 for pizza and (a) beer.

Seriously, it's good to hear from(read)you again.

s

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: February 17, 2005 )

Has Been
I've got two things: Too many parentheticals for me and what award did Shatner win? It seems incomplete to leave it out.

On the parentheticals, I may have picked up on this because I do it in my own writing. When I go back through, I find that it could be done with commas or that I'm qualifying my statements too much, in which case I remove them.

You've made a good arguement and I like how you've pointed out some of his mannerism for those who know Shatner and tied them back to this effort. Didn't Shatner do some spoken word stuff twenty or thirty years ago? Poetry and spacy music or something? Sounds like this is quite different. -Philo

( Posted by: Philo [Member] On: February 19, 2005 )





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