A lot of people talk Shat about Captain Kirk’s music career, but you have to give William credit for sticking to his guns (or in this case, phasers): he’s 80 years old, he stars on a CBS sitcom, he slashes travel prices, and he still finds time to pursue his much-maligned passion for music.
Yes, this means that after thirty-plus years, fans will finally hear a studio version of Shatner’s bizarre talk-sing take on Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” which he first performed at the Science Fiction Film Awards in the ’70s and has since become a so-bad-it’s-impossible-to-stop-watching YouTube favorite.
The list of covers promises the strangest collection of tunes The Shat has yet recorded—which is saying something, since this is a guy who recorded an album combining Shakespeare monologues with “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” in the ’60s. And some of his most interesting—and most well-known—musical co-stars.
His most recent effort, 2004’s Has Been, found Shatner was assisted by, well, legitimate artists like Ben Folds, Henry Rollins and Joe Jackson. Demonstrating that nothing is impossible for the captain of the Enterprise, Searching For Major Tom includes an even stranger array of cosmic covers collaborations.
Relive the glory of “Rocket Man” and check out a selection of the track list below:
—Bootsy Collins plays bass on Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science." (Nothing says "old school funk” like TekWar, apparently.)
—Brad Paisley, who also contributed a song to Has Been, sings on Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy."
—A cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” includes Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) on guitar and Alan Parsons on keyboards. This is a song Shatner was born to slaughter.
—Peter Frampton comes alive on a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”
—A cover of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom (Coming Home)” features Nick Valensi (The Strokes), Zakk Wylde (former Ozzy axeman, Black Label Society), and Mike Inez (Alice in Chains).
—A cover of The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman” has guitar by Dave Davies of the Kinks (set phasers to wtf?!)
—A cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” boasts more Zakk Wylde guitar and vocals.
—A cover of The Police’s “Walking on the Moon” has guest reggae icon Toots (of Maytals fame) on vocals.
There are other songs, including the aforementioned “Rocket Man,” along with the curiously non sci-fi inclusion of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which honestly might be too much to take. Imagine his stop-start phrasing and guttural growls on “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me.” It sounds like something born out of a sadistic fanboy’s dream.
Are you psyched for new music from Shatner? Will you be listening to it regardless of its quality? Could anything ever top the glory of his Dylan cover, or do you think Leonard Nimoy needs to return to music and give us a 21st century take on “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”?
Or do you think he might actually deliver something good? (His cover of Pulp’s “Common People” was surprisingly affecting.)