After his rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on the infamous Golden Throats album (though it first appeared on the Transformed Man LP), one could argue that the world needed a new William Shatner album about as much as it needed a big-screen remake of TJ Hooker. But Shatner’s back all the same with an intriguing, introspective collection of mostly spoken-word tracks that are all the more compelling when it becomes clear that Has Been is, in fact, no joke.
It’s as if Shatner’s been waiting a lifetime to get these thoughts out there, and hearing him relish every word, a man now transformed, is the primary draw of this album. Has Been is a brilliant spoken-word album, performed by a man now 73 years old. And somehow, it just might be the pop album of the year.
Seriously – if your skeptical eye hasn’t already skimmed past this in disgust at me posting about purportedly nonsensical garbage – let me assure you, this album is excellent. Not crusing- down- the- highway- with- the- top- down- excellent (although I’ll think no less of you for it (actually, more)), but that’s not what it’s going for. And don’t worry, Shatner writes and performs the lyrics, poignant and insightful – not the music – for that he turns to talents like Ben Folds, Lemon Jelly, and Aimee Mann, among others. My favorites are “Common People”, “It Hasn’t Happened Yet”, “You’ll Have Time”, “That’s Me Trying”, “Together”, and “I Can’t Get Behind That”, which is over half the album if that’s saying anything.
Here’s a couple tracks from the album and a clip of Ben Folds talking about how him and Shatner first met. The Has Been website plays high quality samples of all the songs, mixed with some interesting commentary by Shatner reflecting on the album and how it came to be; and his site over at Shout! Factory, the record label, has low quality copies of all the songs in their entirety. Now that’s how to promote a record!