William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom [Album Review]

Artist: William Shatner

Album: Seeking Major Tom

Let’s establish one thing from the start–in the pop culture world, William Shatner is a legendary boss. People who follow the rules rarely make history. That said, while I was listening to Seeking Major Tom I found it useful to remember that Shatner is first and foremost an actor, and his songs can be understood as a unique experience of musical theater.

Seeking Major Tom is a concept album that creates the story of Major Tom (played by Shatner) by tracing his journey through a collection of galactic cover songs plus one original track by Shatner, “Struggle.”  The album opens with the sounds of a NASA spaceship launch that are meant to convey the epic nature of the tracks to come. Every song on the album relates to space or science fiction, except for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is forgivable since the song simply begs to be parodied (we’ve all done it!), and there’s definitely a relatable feeling when Shatner wails “a devil put aside for meeee!”

Characteristic of Shatner’s musical career, the entire album is done in spoken word, each song like a monologue that he tackles individually. From “Iron Man” to “Space Cowboy,” the choice of distinctly theatrical songs on this album makes it stand out from Shatner’s others. His voice is sharp, full of dramatic pauses and sudden outbursts typical of his archetype, which gained popularity through characters like Captain Kirk and the Priceline commercial dude.

Shatner successfully scales the full range of human emotion on this album. Although I’m not sure what emotion he evokes in the somewhat drunkenly interpreted line “Don’t you know that I’m a gangster of love?” Shatner definitely shoots and scores. Sometimes the dramatic acting is humorous, as in “Space Truckin,” when Shatner repeats “C’mon, (long pause) c’mon, space truckin!” On other tracks like “She Blinded Me With Science,” his “poetry in motion” fits the eccentric tone of the song nicely, and the accompaniment of Bootsy Collins doesn’t hurt either.

Shatner beams up a star-studded cast of musicians including Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, former Ozzy guitarist Zakk Wylde and Brad Paisley, to name only a few. On “Mrs. Major Tom,” Sheryl Crow enters with a lovely piano ballad, giving the album’s vocals some variety.

Many of the songs end with a fade out into clips of spaceship audio or bits from “Major Tom” and “Rocket Man,” providing a smooth transition between songs and propelling the concept narrative into action. Seeking Major Tom is a lengthy 20 songs long–that amounts to two CDs or 3 LPs. However epic, I admit that I found myself growing a bit weary of Shatner’s distinct style towards the end. Despite the Major Tom narrative, and thanks to the many talented musicians featured, many of his songs stand well on their own. Anyone who is familiar with Family Guy already knows the infamy of Shatner’s rendition of “Rocket Man,” also seen on this record. While I can’t say that any of these covers will outplay the original (see: Nirvana’s cover of “Man Who Sold The World”), I can say that Seeking Major Tom has provided us with some very unique and entertaining remakes.

RELATED LINKS

William Shatner’s Official Website

William Shatner’s Official Twitter

Are you a fan of William Shatner? What do you think of his new album? Find out when William Shatner will be in your town by tracking him on eventseekr. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to give us a shout. You can also stay on top of exciting events from around the world by downloading the eventseekr app for Android, iPhone or Ovi.

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About Katie Kopacz
Blog Intern. Creative Writing student at San Francisco State University. When she's not busy with one of the aforementioned occupations, Katie can be found geeking out over good music, good food, conspiracy theories, cats, and well-written words.

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