Yes, William Shatner is, as you should be well aware, one of the most iconic pop-culture actors and performers to ever grace television and Hollywood. As James T. Kirk, he captained the USS Enterprise as Star Trek travelled beyond cult status, helping create a global sci-fi phenomenon still adored to this day. But while he is primarily remembered for this role, the man’s career spans seven decades, and as well as other film and tv projects, in 2020, at the age of 89...we find him releasing music. It wouldn’t be the first time; he’s released country and spoken word works in the past...but here we find him singing the blues...the question is, is this merely another entry in the captain's log, or just a steaming pile of Shatner? Let’s find out...
The album opens up with “Sweet Home Chicago”, which, for a man born in Montreal is already casting suspicions. Instrumentally it’s fine it has to be said, the general rhythm and guitar tone here is textbook blues; it’s got that very distinct feel and energy and ticks all of the right blues rock boxes for about as cliched a listen as you could get, but vocally...in the words of George Takei...OH MY! Shatner has always been renowned for his off-kilter verbiage...he’s always delivered his lines in an almost disjointed manner while acting...but he does it singing too. It just sounds strange! Perhaps the blues allows for this as, like jazz, you just go where the mood and music takes you, but it still makes for a peculiar listen.
Let’s be honest here Shatner is no singer and this album was never going to amaze anyone with his vocal prowess, especially at 89, but we’ll sift through some positives. “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “Born Under A Bad Sign” showcase some of the albums more favourable performances...the guitars on the former allow for a darker, more brooding delivery. Lyrically I guess it’s a sweet love song as the title suggests but somehow Shatner makes it sound anything BUT consensual, which in it’s own ways is as funny as it is creepy. The latter then sounds like it could come straight out of a movie scene in some down-and-out roadhouse, but instead of starring someone cool like Patrick Swayze, it would be like, Rob Schneider or something.
CANNED HEAT classic “Let’s Work Together” gets a showing and again, instrumentally it’s fine but Shatner sounds more like a motivational speaker or, site manager on a tight deadline as opposed to a singer, while his cover of “I Put A Spell On You” is, frankly remarkable. It’s a song that’s been covered multiple times over the years, but, credit to him, Shatner still manages to put a unique spin on it, only reinforced by the accompanying animated video which, I will let you just experience for yourself below. That right there really, I suppose is the best way to summarise this album...it’s not something you can simply listen to, it’s something you really just have to experience. As I said musically and instrumentally, it’s fine, he’s got some quality musicians driving this album, luckily, but vocally he’s got as much talent as a dead Tribble. With that said...the end of the album please Mr. Sulu...warp 9, that’s an order.