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Has Been? I Think NOT!

 article about William Shatner
What can I say about William Shatner? What can anyone really say
about him? For years hes been among the most mocked and parodied
individuals on the planet. You can count on hearing an impersonation of
him from just about every hack comedian.


Most everyone has
an opinion of his acting style and ability. That opinion is often not
favorable. Yet, he has enjoyed something that is awarded to only the
best of the best in the entertainment world. He has worked steadily for
most of his career.

William Shatner is a man who wears many
hats. He is an actor, a writer, a director, a breeder of horses, and
yes, even a recording artist.

Back in 1968, Shatner released an
album that not only encouraged his detractors, but it also helped
solidify his status as a cult hero. That album was The Transformed Man.

Anyone
who has listened to this album knows that this is one odd little piece
of recording history. Shatner does not really sing at all. Rather, he
interprets the lyrics to songs as if he was doing a dramatic reading
for an audition. His style is somewhat bizarre and kind of off-putting
to folks not so willing to allow a William Shatner to become a
recording artist. Just one listening to his rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man or Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds will both amuse and confuse you beyond recognition.

The Transformed Man remains
as one of the most maligned albums in music history. It seems that
nobody can say anything good about this late-sixties vinyl disaster.
That was then. Today, a differing opinion is being heard.

Musician, Ben Folds, something of an eclectic recording artist as well, has always LOVED The Transformed Man.
When he started making his own waves in the music scene, Folds sought
out Mr. Shatner, hoping to encourage Captain Kirk to record again.

By then wed become very used to the idea of seeing Shatner at the mike. His advertisements for PriceLine.com featured
his unique brand of beat-poetry-meets-pop-music style. We all laughed.
Little did we know that this was only the beginning.

William
Shatner made appearances with Ben Folds on major talk shows helping to
promote a new Folds release. While many were in awe at the sight, wed
all become rather comfortable with the idea of seeing Shatner on stage
with a band.

Shatner has been enjoying quite an array of
successes of late. If the PriceLine commercials and on stage antics
with Ben Folds were not enough, he received acclaim for his role in the
cult classic, sci-fi comedy, Free Enterprise. Sure he was playing himself in this film, but it was a stellar performance nonetheless. In that filmShatner was RAPPING SHAKESPEARE. Thats right! Shatner rapped text from Shakespeares Julius Caesar.

Earlier this year Shatner received, now hold on to something, an EMMYFOR ACTING! Yes, the man whos acting is in question by just about everyone, won an Emmy Award. What could possibly be next? A new album!

Ive
heard that there would be a new Shatner project. I attended a spoken
word concert by Henry Rollins and found out he and Shatner were to
co-write a tune called I Cant Get Behind That. I laughed my
heart out at the recollections from the recording session, but still
found it impossible that there would truly be a new album.

Has Been

Ben
Folds, having enjoyed his time with Shatner on stage, felt it was time
to put Shatners misunderstood genius to the test. Folds has always
admired his style and has even called him, an extremely intuitive musical orator. Eventually, this admiration bore fruit in the form of William Shatners new album, produced by Folds, Has Been.

I
knew I would get a copy of this one way or another. Everyone in this
household are very Shatner-friendly. I expected to laugh at what Id
hear. What I didnt expect was that Has Been is one excellent album of songs.

I know. You think Im on crack. Im not. Has Been
is truly amazing. It is a genuine treat to listen to this most unusual
amalgamation of songs. This is not a good album the cheesy way that
Shatners Transformed Man recording is good. No, Has Been is a collection of songs that makes even the most famous of musicians envious.

Ben
Folds and Shatner had a simple idea. They would write songs based on
many memories and journal entries provided by Shatner. Folds brought in
many noteworthy recording artists for this project. Folks like Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins, Adrian Belew, Webb Wilder, and Aimee Mann lend their talents to this album. The result is an extremely well-produced and honest CD.

Has Been provides
a type of honesty and humility not seen by most of todays major
recording artists. Some of the songs are funny. Some are sad. All are
quite moving in their own ways.

Listen to this album and
youll get a look inside this mans soul. Some songs tell of the troubles
with being a cult-hero celebrity. One song in particular, What Have You Done, is an eerie track describing the raw emotion and heartache Shatner felt after finding his wife dead in his swimming pool.

Shatner also brings his sensitive side out in describing his troubles with romance and love. Ideal Woman is a comical look at what makes a perfect Shatner-worthy lady.

However only a few songs are as touching as Thats Me Trying, a song that describes one mans attempt to reunite with a long lost daughter. This song, and others such as Familiar Love and It Hasnt Happened Yet provide a unique glimpse of this strangely famous man.

Other selections provide great humor. The gospel-inspired tune, Youll Have Time, provided great enjoyment as Shatner loudly boasts to the listener, Live life like youre gonna die. Because youre gonna! The
entire song explains the inevitability of death with great humor as he
rattles off a litany of celebrities that are no longer among us.



Has Been the
title track, pokes fun at the notion of faded glory. Some would say
this song really makes fun of Shatner himself, but rest assured this
track makes more of a statement about having staying power in the
world.

This is not to say that there are no tracks that take
pot shots at our hero. Shatner seems to accept his level of celebrity
and submits himself to comedic jabs in songs like Real and I Cant Get Behind That.

In
all, this is an album that I would recommend to anyone. You dont have
to be a William Shatner fan to appreciate the beauty and subtle genius
of this work. Everything from the production value to the musicianship
represented is of the highest quality. In my perfectly screwed up world
known as Andy Land, this will win a Grammy for Album of the Year! After
all is said and done, what really sells the CD is the vocal style and
lyrical interpretations from that guy we love to mock, William Shatner.

Read More Tales from Andy Land at Andy's BLOG or Click HERE for a Listing of Andy's Past Works at The Cheers.



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