William Shatner

Has Been (Shout! Factory)

Hey, who ordered the ham on wry? William Shatner, the greatest overactor of our time, returns to recording (you mean you've never heard Capt. Kirk's primal-scream take on "Mr. Tambourine Man"?) with a cutting-edge crew of has-beens-to-be that includes Ben Folds, Lemon Jelly and Joe Jackson. Shatner recites his lyrics here in a stentorian yet swaggering, seen-it-all manner to rousing mod-rock (Pulp's "Common People") and folky electronica ("Together," on which the Cap'n attempts to follow the arty, angst-ridden footfalls of existential avant-crooner Scott Walker: "Phoenix/ Pegasus/Grecian urn/Midwest turn/So much to learn"). What makes Has Been fun is Shatner's satirical self-awareness -- he's in on the joke, even if it is, in part, on him -- and Folds' lean, retro-elegant arrangements. "I Can't Get Behind That" finds T.J. Hooker trading mad-as-hell rants with spiritual descendant Henry Rollins alongside a sonic rush that's part jungle, part Beat jazz, part Hawaii Five-0 theme. Less than brilliant yet more than a Hollywood vanity project, Has Been is an entertaining diversion with more than a touch of gravitas.

 
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