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William Shatner was recently caught on tape by paparazzi responding to reports that some people hadnt yet heard his new album. See him read Amazon.com customer reviews of Has Been as he makes his case: high bandwidth, low bandwidth.
Top Customer Reviews
For those sneering without hearing, I'll merely note that if you remember the William Shatner Priceline commercials, you'll have some idea what this CD is like. Only it's even better than those were.
The hard-rocking (yes hard-rocking!) Common People kicks the album off perfectly. From there we have an astonishingly wide array of tracks, some moody, some wistful, some funny, but none of it ever truly descending into camp or schmaltz. One track is a genuinely moving tribute to his tragically deceased wife. Another is one that every child of divorce will recognize and empathize with. Then there's the duet with Henry Rollins, in which both men are simply hilarious.
Quite simply, this album is excellent listening. It's the surprise of the year: a good, genuinely very, very good, William Shatner album. It's worth owning just for the title track alone, but everything on here is good. Highly recommended.
When I saw he was releasing a CD of new material, I feared for the worst, but I was most certainly wrong to be concerned. Shatner still can't sing, but has now written material that largely allows him to get by with his sing-speaking technique that is more akin to a dramatic recital set to music than a real song. In this case, Shatner teamed up with talented pop star Ben Folds, who scored most of the music and produced the CD, and much to my amazement, the album isn't especially funny in the traditional sense, but it is good. Mostly it is interesting and introspective into Shatner's real life. Some of the songs are really dark and almost painful to listen to, where others are lighthearted and wacky. My favorites on the CD are "Real" written by country star Brad Paisley (who also sings on the track), and the odd title track "Has Been" which has an interesting backing track.Read more ›
And yes, I found it, the comedy's there. On songs like You're Gonna Die and the magnificient title track, but it's genuine, ballsy, rapier-edged wit - not half-assed, lame attempts at laughs.
But what I wasn't expecting was the genuinely heartfelt warmth of feeling on some of the other tracks.
That's Me Trying, Real and - one of the standouts - Together, really are emotionally moving; the musical arrangements are effortless yet exemplary, and Shatner's lyrics are nicely poetic but still accesible.
However, the most striking thing on these more contemplative tracks is the man's voice. Shatner moves away from the deadpan bemusement we might be familiar with on the more humorous songs - and his voice becomes remarkably tender and touching.
I think every track on this album hits the target it aims for. The grumpy-old-man rant he shares with Henry Rollins on I Can't Get Behind That captures quite perfectly the feeling of frantically struggling with the pace of change in the modern world. And of course that cover of Pulp's classic Common People is just great, Shatner's North American (I know he's Canadian) take on singing about such British concepts as fags, flats and chips achieves just the right level of wry detachment - just as Jarvis Cocker did in his arch original perfomance, though in a subtly different way.
Boy, was I wrong.
What Shatner has done here is a transcendent work of art. The skillful arrangements by Ben Folds have an undeniable catchiness, and the roster of guest artists is impressive. Instead of erring on the side of courage like Leonard Nimoy and attempting to sing rhythmlessly to blaring music, Shatner relies on his considerable speaking talent for his performance. The guest artists provide the musical backdrop for what is basically a series of brilliant monologues.
From the first song, a remake of the classic "Common People," Shatner lets us know he's not taking himself too seriously. The treatment of the song is fun, funny, slightly campy, but doesn't come off as cheesy at all. It's definitely musical, moreso than many albums being put out these days.
Then, just when we think he's all about fun and games, he pulls "What Have You Done?" on us. Heartwrenching, entirely nonmusical, but nevertheless the emotional core of this album, Shatner outdoes himself with perfect vocal acting of well-written material. It'll send a chill up your spine the first time you hear it. Maybe even bring a tear to your eye.
In one last show of versatility, Bill Shatner gets mad. Really, really mad. In "I Can't Get Behind That" he attacks overpriced gas, general stupidity, and some of the idiotic foundations to our messed up society. In the album's title track, "Has Been," he stares all the people who voted this album a one straight in the eye and raises a big vocal middle finger to all of them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Shatners spoken word wor'ks amazingly well here with the musical background behind it. It's not self-parody like some of his other musical work. Read morePublished 5 months ago by thirdtwin
Not just the best William Shatner album, but one of the best "anyone" albums in my collection.Published 5 months ago by Wesley W.
Not very good. Shatner was good in Star Trek and should have stayed there. The title says it all.Published 7 months ago by Robert L. Kocher
Had to get this after hearing his cover of 'Common People', which is actually better than the original pop-punk ditty it's based on. Once again, was not disappointed...Published 8 months ago by John D. Knox
When most people hear that I have a William Shatner CD, they want to start making fun of me. Then I play them a couple tracks and they realize why I like it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Patrick
Common People is the breakout hit. (Also go to YouTube and watch the "KirkSpock" version.) Having Pulp rerecord the track with Shatner is genius. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Ted
I've never bought a william shatner cd before, of course I knew it would be comical, the cd cronicles William Shatners life, both personally and professionally, at least he can... Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Lawliss JR