Ah, the ultimate musical joke. William Shatner, well known for his 60s Transformed Man LP (containing unequivocally the worst Beatles cover ever), returns to do what he does second-best, creating Has Been with help from his famous conspirators like Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins, Lemon Jelly, and Ben Folds. But the situation seems to be reversed--is Shatner deliberately playing up to his thespian tendencies for laughs?
Part of the appeal of his earlier album was that he was earnest and serious, despite the nonsense poured out. But here, the irony has turned in on itself creating one long paradoxical knot. Here's a 72 year-old actor narrating Pulp's "Common People" a song that defines Britain for anyone currently aged between 25 and 35, complete with a punk-rock middle-eight. It's impossible to discern if he's the joke or the listener is, or both, or neither. Likewise, the poetry by Shatner, backed by Lemon Jelly on "Together"--is this Lemon Jelly's toytown chillout gone too far? Whether it's good, and why depends entirely on the listener--is this the ultimate novelty record or something more credible? As Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel once said "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever" --Thom Allott
Famed for his unusually kitsch and incredibly unique approach to music, William Shatners Has Been is more of the same. Features the Pulp classic, "Common People", plus ten other tracks.