Spun: William Shatner

By Nolan Lewis

Captain’s log: star date ten zero-five twenty-zero-four. Captain James T. Kirk, a.k.a. William Shatner, releases an album appropriately titled Has Been. His mission? To boldly go where no other captain of the Enterprise has gone before–top of the music charts.

With Ben Folds arranging the music and producing, the album deserves the attention of both critics and listeners. With a talented supporting cast, including Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins and Brad Paisley, they all deliver a unique praise-worthy album arousing every emotion.

Starting off with the high-energy cover of Pulp ‘s classic “Common People,” the album only gets better with Shatner’s stalled delivery. “You’ll Have Time” sounds like a drunk Shatner rambling on about death, while being backed up by a gospel choir and Shatner as a southern preacher. Best selling author Nick Horby (High Fidelity) fills in for Bones as Shatner’s right hand man in the heart-felt ballad of an estranged father to his daughter in “That’s Me Trying”.

Love is the topic of “Familiar Love” and “Ideal Woman”, possibly love for a vivacious and gorgeous green alien babe. And the title track “Has Been” is a verbal showdown a la Johnny Cash.

Though the entire album is strong, the most notable track is “Together,” featuring an instrumental by electronic geniuses Lemon Jelly. Step aside Mr. Spock, Lemon Jelly’s smooth sound of acoustic guitar mixed with ambient melodramatic electronic is the perfect partner for Shatner.

William Shatner’s Has Been is an inspirational album, not for just those “Has Beens” appearing on Hollywood Squares to ensure the world does not forget their name. In perhaps the most surprising release of 2004, Has Been may just rocket Shatner back into the hearts of fans new and old. As he says in the title track, “Has been was/Has been might again.”

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