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The Transformed Man is not about Shatner trying to sing (he knows his dramatic reading style is not singing); this is a full-blown concept album of remarkable proportions. I happen to believe Shatner took this album very seriously back in 1968, and that this truly is about the music and not Shatner's ego or ersatz campiness. Shatner didn't just throw this album together; a lot of thought and work went into this. You'll notice that the first five tracks actually consist of two songs apiece. Each two-part track is meant to reflect upon a different aspect of the duality of man. Of course, you don't get this effect when some radio station cues up Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds or Mr. Tambourine Man for comedic purposes; those guys never play the first half of each track, so it's impossible for the listener to know what Shatner was actually trying to do with this album.Read more ›
Those are kind of interesting on their own, but the gems and real reason to buy this album are the two songs that Shatner "performs". Notice I did not say "sings", for that would imply some musical inclination. Oh, no. Shatner attacks both "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" with his trade-mark lilting, dramatic delivery, but with the addition of a stalker's intensity (in the case of "Mr. Tambourine Man"), or dreamy manic-depressive (in the case of "Lucy").
"Lucy" starts off more-or-less OK (though "bad"). My favorite part is hearing Shatner growl "a GIRL!" then drift off into the sugary "with kalei-i-i-i-idoscope ey-y-y-y-yes..."
Somehow, Shatner has managed to turn "Mr. Tambourine Man" into something like a stalker's shrieking ramblings. It's beautiful.
No words can sufficiently describe it. It must be heard.
Somehow, the album manages to be simultaneously abysmal and sublime. On the scale of badness, the needle goes so far off the scale it comes right back round to the other side and ends up in greatness.
This sonic schizophrenia may even be intentional, what with the album's stated concept of pairing tracks with opposing themes: victory / defeat ; youth / old age ; love found / love lost ; depression / elation. This is best illustrated by the pairing of "Theme from Cyrano" - which makes you feel like you're dozing off in the park on a warm summer's day - and "Mr Tambourine Man" which makes you feel like you've just been woken up again by an angry drunken bum yelling at you.
It's an almost impossible album to rate on any traditional scale because normal reviewing criteria fail to apply here. If music can be said to have geometry then this album is positively non-Euclidian. Still, I'm forced to rate it, so I'm going to give it 5 stars because it's utterly unique, sounds like nothing else on Earth, and it inflicts the full range of emotions on you ... often all at once. You can't say that about many albums.
The only shame here is that they didn't expand this remastered re-release with some of the other vintage Shatner recordings - like his infamous performance of "Rocket Man," or "Taxi," or even his semi-reprise of this album's title track from "William Shatner Live" - none of which are available officially. The inclusion of these as bonus (or should that be malus?) tracks might have made this a definitive collection of pre-"Has Been" Shatner ... but I guess many people would say that the 38 minutes you get here are more than enough, thanks!
I am rating this album as I would rate any legitimate album. I do this because I understand that Shatner was being completely serious about this album, and the dramatic interpretations of the two songs/poems/monologues fused together are supposed to symbolize the duality of man, and blah, blah, blah. I get all of that.
But still, the album is horrendous. As you listen to it, you cannot help but firmly believe that Shatner thinks he's pulling off some great artistic feat with this album. However, he is wrong. Horribly wrong. The arrangement of each "song" is sub-par, the backing band of studio musicians on the album has no life, and then there's Shatner himself. With his trademark delivery, Shatner leaves his indelible mark all over every track, and that's really not such a good thing.
This album would be utterly forgettable, if not for the fact that it is such a train wreck that it is an absolute must-have. Let me write that again in bold for the folks that may have skipped over this review: THIS ALBUM WOULD BE UTTERLY FORGETTABLE, IF NOT FOR THE FACT THAT IT IS SUCH A TRAIN WRECK THAT IT IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVE. I actually bought this CD as a British import twelve years ago for twenty bucks, long before it was in print on CD in the States, and even now, when I could have bought it for half the price, it is still worth every penny I paid for it all those years ago.
You see, whenever I'm feeling blue, I pop The Shatner into my CD player, and everything gets a little bit better. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially Mr. Tambourine Man and A Very Good Year.
Honestly, this CD is glorious in it's sheer awfulness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I GAVE MY ORIGINAL ALBUM AWAY AND AM GLAD TO ONCE AGAIN ENJOY THIS RECORDINGPublished 1 month ago by Marianne
What can be said of such gibberish, and yet we love it! The Lp is very good quality, no issues whatsoever. So now…. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ed
For some people and not for others. Recommended for star trek fans.Published 6 months ago by avid reader
wE LAUGHED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CD!!!Too funny!!!!Shakesphere he isnt...Published 8 months ago by danielle vanvalen
Pure brilliance. DO YOU HEAR ME, MR. TAMBOURINE MAN?????Published 11 months ago by Kennedy P. Higdon
I purchased the record (remember those) in 1968 and some years later, before the CD was available, had William Shatner autograph the album cover at a Star Trek Convention. Read morePublished 22 months ago by rose aiello