What do you get when you lock Sgt. T.J. Hooker in a room with one of the most polarizing recent figures in progressive rock? You get an interesting cosmic trip called Ponder The Mystery.
The album, released by Cleopatra Records, is the second William Shatner release in as many years. Shatner follows his 2011 space-themed cover project Seeking Major Tom with an album of all original songs cowritten with 1990s-era Yes man Billy Sherwood. Though some Yes fans love to pan him, Sherwood has carved out a respectable career as a producer and also helms his own prog rock group Circa — with former Yes Hammond B-3 whiz Tony Kaye.
On Ponder They Mystery, instead of calling on his own band — or even his rhythm section buddies, Alan White and Chris Squire from Yes — Sherwood does all the bass, rhythm guitar and drum work himself. Quite frankly, Sherwood is an excellent rhythm section, and that gives him the freedom to bring in a few of of his ringer buddies elsewhere.
Jazz great Al Di Meola provided a stand out solo for the song “So Am I.” Former Yes bandmate Rick Wakeman rips off a trademark synth solo on the song “Change.” Other notable soloists include reluctant guitar hero Vince Gill, classic rocker Robby Krieger and the late George Duke on the appropriately touching song “Where Does Time Go?”
Despite all the star power, Shatner is firmly at the helm. He provides all of the lyrics, and effectively talks his way through the songs as only he can. Thankfully, he leaves the singing to Sherwood. The two effectively collaborate and help continue the career momentum Shatner has gained in recent years.