William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom (2011)

Jesus, seriously? I have a sense of humor but this is just absolute garbage. William Shatner’s 2004 project with rock piano great Ben Folds, Has Been, was actually an entertaining diversion — tongue fully in cheek, yet it had musical merit: serious fun. This is pure junk, the work of someone with too much time on his hands, access to recording equipment, and a totally ridiculous cast of supporting band members.

Let’s run down that list: Ritchie Blackmore. Lyle Lovett. Brad Paisley. Steve Miller. Ian Paice. Johnny Winter. Steve Hillage. Bootsy Collins. Patrick Moraz. Toots Hibbert. Peter Frampton. John Wetton. Wayne Cramer. Carmine Appice. Sheryl Crow. Michael Shenker. Ernie Watts. Edgar Froese. Dave Davies. Warren Haynes. Zakk Wylde. Mike Inez. Steve Howe. (Seriously: WHAT?) All these rock legends helping Captain James TJ Hooker-Kirk to half-heartedly schmooze his way through a bunch of your favorite science- and/or space-themed tunes from the past. Space Oddity, Major Tom, Space Cowboy, Space Truckin’, She Blinded Me With Science, Walking On The Moon – you get the idea.

Yes, Shatner includes another cover of “Rocket Man.” He already did the definitive cover long, long ago; why bother with another? To run a fun joke into the ground, that’s why.

Props go to Shatner for giving Sheryl Crow a lone moment to shine with her cover of K.I.A.’s “Mrs. Major Tom” — hers and hers alone, and it’s quite nice. Not sure why it’s there, but a break from the monotony is welcome. Some of the celebrity guitar solos are nice, I suppose (the other celebrity supporting roles really aren’t that noticeable, sadly), but there’s so much kitsch here that it overpowers any enjoyment that is there to be found.

Shatner is in full-on Shat-ner mode, if you get my drift, and that gets old real quick. He knew he had a schtick and how to properly work it on Has Been — or maybe it was Ben Folds who knew how to use it to great effect. Here, however, he uses it against the listener, each song reduced to delivery vehicles for his mono-syllabic delivery of each and every word for attempted comedic effect.

The result is the kind of thing you pull out for friends with the jokey warning of “get a load of this” rather than Has Been‘s “no, seriously, check it out, it’s actually pretty fun.” Too bad.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.