William Shatner

The Transformed Man

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William Shatner is known first and foremost as Captain Kirk, the central character from the classic Star Trek TV series from the '60s, and a string of motion pictures starting in the '80s, as well as an author of Star Trek-based books. Trekkies everywhere worship Kirk (many refuse to see that Shatner is merely playing a role) -- they have Star Trek conventions globally, where they buy/trade rare memorabilia, analyze episode/movie plots, and dress up like their favorite Star Trek characters. Apart from his most ardent admirers, most people do not know that in 1968, Shatner recorded an album of poetry and popular songs made famous by then-current artists. It has become a cult-attraction over the years, and with good reason. While listening to the album, The Transformed Man, it's unclear if Shatner is merely having a good time and goofing around, or if he's embarrassingly dead serious, and creating an overly indulgent work. Most of the album turns out to be a bit too tedious for the average but a pair of tracks have become classics -- "Theme From Cyrano/Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Spleen/Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Shatner's liner notes from inside the CD booklet were originally penned when the album came out, and sound as if he was legitimately proud of his accomplishment. Shatner's vocal talents were put to use again more than 30 years later -- '90s alternative artist, Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five) used Shatner's vocals to great effect on the hilarious ode to love gone bad, "In Love," from his 1998 side project, Fear of Pop -- 'Volume 1. Like the legendary comedian Andy Kaufman, the attraction of The Transformed Man is that you cannot tell if Shatner is play-acting or painfully serious. The result is a must hear, (unintentional?) comedy classic.

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