Once upon a time, I saw a “Family Guy” episode with Stewie singing a peculiar version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” After learning that it was a reference to an actual performance by William Shatner, I beat up some Trekkies so they would cough up their video copy and their fan fiction of Counselor Troy rehabilitating Seven of Nine. Point being, I was hooked to Shatner’s peculiar way of talking. YOU know, WHAT, I’m talking, ABOUT. Backing his voice with the proper melody results in the same synergy as dropping a hip hop beat to a drunk bum’s aimless shuffling and discovering the year’s next dance craze: musical genius.
For the hesitant listener, just pretend this album doesn’t have Shatner at all. You’ll soon realize the collaboration with Ben Folds allows for an eclectic offering in both tone and genre. “Common People” and its rocking beat jumpstarts the album, courtesy of Joe Jackson. Shatner follows up with a couple humorous tracks, particularly “You’ll Have Time,” before reaching the creamy center where he provides some truly insightful lyrics. I recommend a listen to the title track “Has Been” and you’ll know Shatner has no qualms about his life — past, present or future. For the spoken word purist, what would a furious rant be without Henry Rollins? Listen to “I Can’t Get Behind That” and hear the two bash student drivers, gas prices and the bane of all things, Internet spam. For the folks that can’t let go of Kirk, Hooker or (shudder) Bascom, listen to “Real” to finally acknowledge Shatner as a human being and get a life. Definitely give this album a shot and reserve the gimmick bashing for someone like Ashlee Simpson
[Mark Batalla tries desperately to hide the fact that he, himself is a Trekkie, too.]