Title: Has Been
Artist: William Shatner
Label: Shout! Factory
Year: 2004

  1. Common People (featuring Joe Jackson)
  2. It Hasn’t Happened Yet
  3. You’ll Have Time
  4. That’s Me Trying (featuring Aimee Mann)
  5. What Have You Done
  6. Together (featuring Lemon Jelly)
  7. Familiar Love
  8. Ideal Woman
  9. Has Been
  10. I Can’t Get Behind That (featuring Henry Rollins)
  11. Real (featuring Brad Paisley)
You would think this would be a camp album a la "Golden Throats". I was surprised when I heard it. Shatner doesn't sing, he talks through each song. There is more than an element of Was (Not Was) going on. "It Hasn't Happened Yet" is classic Was fare, a simple minor key melody with a world weary voice talking about failed dreams. The big tent preacher delivery of "You'll Have Time" is surprisingly precise. I would've thought Shatner would overact a piece with this much potential for schmaltz, but he walks right up to the line and manages to stay just this side of it.

There's a great song about an absent father trying to reconnect with his kid without addressing anything real, the whole theme of the album is failure, disappointment, and regret. The singing on the album is primarily the choruses, usually sung by Ben Folds while Shatner speaks the same words, other times guests like Joe Jackson and Aimee Mann. Bonus: Adrian Belew plays guitar. The duet about language and ideas with Henry Rollins is the most dada part of the album, and probably the sort of thing most people expected the whole album to sound like. But it is pretty damn funny.

Ben Folds provides a musical background as perfect as anything Don Was has ever done. He has said many a time that all he wants to do is write great pop songs, and he definitely does. Catchy hooks, memorable choruses, clever lyrics, all work to make for strong songs that would be hard for any halfway decent performer to damage. And Shatner is more than halfway decent.

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