Shatner/Kirk – where does one end and the other begin? Much of the hilarity to be gleaned from The Transformed Man, his first effort put out towards the end of the first Star Trek run, comes from the yawning gap between blinkered over-reaching ambition and steaming turd reality. It has of course since entered the canon as a stone cold cult classic. Produced some 35 years after that rum if compelling debut, Has Been suggests that with age comes self-awareness and, dare we say, wisdom. Shatner is firmly in charge, not Kirk. Where TTM works as novelty, HB just works.
That’s not to say there aren’t laughs to be had – there are – the title track for example is a real winner, yielding chuckles over repeated listens. The difference is we’re laughing with a Shatner who’s not above slipping us a knowing wink. When it comes, the humour is intentional, and it works. This is though first and foremost a music album and much of the credit goes to main songwriter and all round mid-wife Ben Folds.
The spoken song-poems we might expect are present, correct and oddly affecting. Shatner conjures up some genuine pathos in a Nick Hornby co-penned That’s Me Trying, about a father trying his best to reach out to a long estranged child – a highly personal theme given Hornby’s own family story. So too is a poem written by Shatner (bear with me now) about the personal tragedy of finding his wife dead in their swimming pool. Not the grisly freakshow one might suppose but a moving piece of art, so there.
As if more recommendation were needed, it opens with a corking cover of Pulp’s Common People. It’s the closest we get to Kirk doing a Mr Tambourine Man, and yet, you guessed it, it works.
Who’d have thunk it eh?
Oddi wrth y brawd
the rehabilitated man
Of course Y Brawd could not pass up an opportunity to revisit past Kirkian glories. Here are two prime shanks of cured ham. The first has James T. acting up a storm (and having a "moment" with Spock), the second perhaps the best extant example……of the randomly…….placed pause (watch Bones' expression as he struggles not to laugh in Shatner's face).