Wednesday, October 12, 2011

William Shatner - "Seeking Major Tom"

William Shatner's Seeking Major Tom was
released Oct. 11th, 2011 on Cleopatra Records
William Shatner returns this week with a double cd of his trademark spoke-sung tunes. This time, it's a covers album full of space-themed songs. There are a few decidedly-not-space-themed songs, including a cover of U2's "In A Little While," Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and a cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Of course, several Major Tom songs make the cut, from Bowie's own "Space Oddity" to Peter Schiller's "Major Tom (Coming Home)" to K.I.A.'s "Mrs. Major Tom." The truly impressive part is the caliber of the musicians he's managed to gather around himself for this album, including Ritchie Blackmore, Zakk Wylde, Nick Valensi (of the Strokes), Sheryl Crowe, Bootsy Collins, Peter Frampton and actually many more.

The thing that put me off about this album is, being a covers disc, it puts William Shatner back into his campy, silly hat. It finds him back on the pony that knows only one trick. Sing speaking Elton John's "Rocketman" again is a huge step backwards for what was looking like a promising late-blooming recording career. His last effort, Has Been, was actually one of my favorite albums of 2004. With help from Ben Folds and guest spots from both Joe Jackson and Brad Paisley (the only radio country artist that I have respect for), Shatner managed to craft Has Been into an excellent, sometimes intensely personal album that looked inside Shatner the celebrity and found Shatner the man. He dealt with his impending mortality, his relationship with his estranged daughter, and more. Compared to that, this album is a tired retread of something that wasn't very amusing to begin with.

That's not to say I dislike this album, but knowing what Shatner's capable of, this album falls flat. From the very moment I heard that he'd be releasing an album this year, I'd been waiting with bated breath. "How can he top Has Been?" His response, a double cd collection of novelty covers, may not've been the answer I was looking for, but William Shatner permanently has my respect and I'll be damned if I'm not going to listen to the whole album. A couple of times.

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