William Shatner Has Been

William Shatner Has Been

Ever since his kitschy spoken-word versions of songs like Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Elton John's "Rocket Man" in the '60s and '70s, William Shatner has had a cult following that adores him as much for his dramatic pop poetry as for his acting. In 2004, septuagenarian Shatner released his first studio album since 1968, with Ben Folds producing—but Has Been is filled with off-kilter originals mostly cowritten by Folds and Shatner, not campy covers. Granted, things kick off with Shatner's sure-footed take on Pulp's 1995 Britpop hit "Common People," but soon he's delivering the devastatingly mordant philosophy of "You'll Have Time" over a loose-limbed blues-gospel backing, and the strikingly subtle, melancholic "It Hasn't Happened Yet." Those who waste time wondering if Shatner's intentions on his musical outings are ironic are missing the point of an album filled with sharp-eyed humor and unabashed poignancy in equal measure.

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