Album Review: Has Been by William Shatner

Album Name: Has Been
Artist: William Shatner
Year/Label: 2004 / Independent

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

OK I realize he’s not a woman in music. However, many of you know I do have a fondness for men as well, so some time ago I added a small section called Boys on the Side. My intent with that was to only showcase Indie male artists, and I will stick to that mission for the most part. But when someone wants to send you William Shatner’s new CD for review, you just don’t turn something like that down. (I was also asked to review REM’s new one and that will appear here too just as soon as the CD arrives and I have time to review it).

Many of you probably don’t think of Shatner as a musician, and well, maybe he’s not in the classic sense of the term. But he does write prose. For this release he has surrounded himself with several very talented musicians and when you add Shatner’s distinctive vocal stylings, you’ve got something really…well…unique.

Joining him on this effort whether by co-writing or playing instruments are Joe Jackson, Adrian Belew, Brad Paisley, Aimee Mann, Lemon Jelly, Elizabeth Shatner (William’s wife), Henry Rollins, Nick Hornby and Ben Folds (on whom I, personally, have a healthy crush). Ben actually co-wrote many of the songs, arranged, mixed and produced them (see, he’s a musical god).

The tracks mainly consist of great pop/rock songs with Shatner’s spoken word over the top.

“You’ll Have Time” had me actually laughing out loud. Not in a bad way, either. But with lyrics like this, I dare you to keep a straight face:

“Live life
Live Life like you’re gonna die
Because you’re gonna
I hate to be the bearer of bad news
But you’re gonna die”

Trust me, it only gets better. The effect of a back up gospel choir echoing the sentiment is classic.

“What Have You Done” is his voice is really amazingly beautiful and for those of you who only know him as Captain Kirk and for the impressions people do of him, you probably think I’m being funny, but I’m not. Really, it’s very soothing and lovely.

Love the Bacharach sound on “Familiar Love”.

More great lyrics on Ideal Woman, where he is telling a woman that he loves her just the way she is (don’t we all want a man to say that to us?):

“It’s you I feel in love with
Your turn of phrase
Your sensitivity
Your irrational moods
Well, maybe that could go
But everything else
I want you to be you…”

This stuff is fantastic. Go get this CD now. If anything I’ve written sounds even remotely interesting you’ll love it. I’m sure I’m not doing it justice. It’s a classic.

For those of you, my fellow Ben Folds fanatics who will buy this just because his name is attached I urge you to listen, with an open heart and mind and I think you’ll love it too.

Posted on October 21, 2004

Track Listing
1. Common People (featuring Joe Jackson)
2. It Hasn’t Happened Yet
3. You’ll Have Time
4. That’s Me Trying (featuring Aimee Mann and Ben Folds)
5. What Have You Done
6. Together (featuring Lemon Jelly)
7. Familiar Love
8. Ideal Woman
9. Has Been
10. I Can’t Get Behind That (featuring Henry Rollins)
11. Real (featuring Brad Paisley)

[William Shatner Official Site]

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