SCIENCE FICTION MUSIC REVIEW: "Seeking Major Tom" by William Shatner (2011)

Robert Bee
Robert Bee's picture

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve greatly enjoyed William Shatner’s career, from his acting to his “musical performances.” I appreciate the camp and self-parody he displays on his CDs.

Shanter’s new CD “Seeking Major Tom” is his best work yet. I laughed quite a bit, certainly a lot more than during the average comedy. The science fiction themed cover songs are better produced than his other CDs. His spoken word performances vary from well done to high camp. Furthermore, the album is a concept album ala Pink Floyd. The CD starts out with the Bowie song, “Major Tom,” which it returns to repeatedly throughout the CD. The songs represent Major Tom’s thoughts and fantasies as he floats in space: he remembers when he learns to fly, he experiences aimless floating as he’s lost in the stars, he longs for his wife, he imagines going to heaven and hell.

The CD contains the famed Shatner inflections and dramatic phrasings. He channels the emotion of each song, and that emotion is often playful. Shatner relies on an impressive group of collaborators such as Lyle Lovett, Peter Frampton, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Steve Miller, and improbably Bootsy Collins.

“Space Cowboy,” with Shatner proclaiming he’s a “gangster of love” and “a space cowboy” is hilarious. “Space Truckin’” is Shatner at his best high camp. Shatner is playful in “Mr. Spaceman,” which is produced as a country song.

Many people will buy this album strictly for the camp, but I’d like to point out that the songs are really well done. In “Twilight Zone,” Shatner’s spoken word performance meshes well with the music. Shatner manages to make “Rocket Man” oddly touching. “Bohemian Rhapsody” (hahaha!) is a superb forum for Shatner’s operatic ambitions. “She Blinded me with Science” with Bootsy Collins is truly funktastic!

Shatner takes this compilation seriously, but he also laughs at himself. Check out the video of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in which the entire sky is transformed into the head of Shatner

This video encapsulates the whole endeavor well by parodying Shatner’s famed ego.

Will conservatives like it?

Why not, it’s funny and entertaining. Although it’s probably not something you’ll listen to a hundred times like your favorite CD, you’ll certainly be entertained.