Posted by Sari
I think it is safe to say that Bill Shatner has been going through a period of rehabilitation from camp to cool camp in the last few years. Now he is climbing the hedy hights of critical approval with the win of a guest-star Emmy from The Practice, and his new critically acclaimed album. Yes, you did not read wrong, I said critically acclaimed. Don't believe me? Well, go to NY Times (registration required).The Guardian leans more on the camp side of things, but still.
And of course I bought it. Do you think I would have dared to come home to Jukka "king of novelty records" Hoo without it? I don't think even the return of Martti Servo on the telly would have saved me. The thing is - I kinda like it. It is an expertly produced effort where Ben Fold's instrumentalistion support's Shatner's recitation of mostly his own lyrics about life universe and everything. The music covers multiple genres from Manhattan transfery lounge to ballads and from penguin cafeish new age to funky percussion music.
Sometimes it is funny. The Gospel "You'll have time" with its deep motto: "live life like you're going to die, 'cause you gonna," is hilarious, the grumpy old man rant about all the things in the world has the necessary self-rony to work, and the quirky love song "Ideal woman" sounds wonderfully familiar, like he is channeling Jukka.
Sometimes it is serious, like when Shatner recites a poem about the death of his wife, and sometimes it is bit of both like in the western spoof "Has Been". The serious efforts sometimes fall a bit flat, just because there is a feeling Shatner just doesn't have the vocabulary and mastery of metaphor to take his message across. The poem about his wife's death especially suffers from this, lines like "her dear profile at peace at last" does not really carry.This is especially apparent when the previous "song" on the album is "that's me trying" where the song about father trying to reach for his daughter after many years has lyrics by Nic Hornsby and works exceptionally well.
The cherry on top is the album's only cover, Shatner's wild interpretation of Pulp's working class anthem "Common People". He really throws himself into the song with such panache, hamming the angry lines like only he can. Excellent music for burning pamphlet's on CD's I tell ya.