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The Transformed Man

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Take it in Context

Was this album meant seriously? Absolutely. Read the liner notes from the CD if you don't believe me. Bill meant this as a true artistic effort, wrapped into his heady days as a young actor finding success in a new TV show. The original release date is not 2004, but 1968 (that may help put it into context for you). Is it bad? Yes, artistically, its horrible, but it falls into that "Its so bad its good category". By the way, King Henry the Fifth makes my black lab howl. We use this trick at parties to entertain the guests. Is it tongue in cheek? Overtime, Bill's done a great job at laughing at himself and his own pretentsions. See his shtick from the MTV awards from years ago and you'll see what I mean. So, as a look back, most people find the humor in this, rather than condemning it as bad art. Should you buy it? Not as good music. Buy it as an interesting insight into one of America's pop culture figures, as a joke, as interesting but weird, or as a sincere artistic effort from a young actor. But not artistically.

Shatner Blew Up My Stereo

Mr. Tamborine Man vaporized the midranges on my cheap(ish) speakers. "The Transformed Man" may well be better than any Metallica record, or most of Fleetwood Mac, or anything Jimmy Page did under the influence of illegal controlled substances. Buy "The Transformed Man" and be amazed... and horrified. And amazed. You owe me money, Shatner.

Definitely a piece of work

Well, YES it's whacky, YES it's zany, YES you'll go mad if you listen to it all at once. But this is a period piece, written for it's time, and even for then it was, well, stretching it. But how can you not listen to this at least once in your lifetime if you are even at all remotely a fan of Trek or Shatner? My favorite - pop this CD into an unsuspecting person's player, set the volume up, tune to track 2, and run. Seriously.


Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The crew of the Starship Enterprise no longer soars through the galaxy under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, but they continue to inhabit the airwaves on a number of pop and rock recordings. The Vulcan Mr. Spock, aka Leonard Nimoy, Lieutenant Uhura, aka Nichelle Nichols, and several others from the series' next generation of actors have released albums, and Kirk -- actually his alter ego, William Shatner -- is still commander of the pack. His spoken word recordings of "Lucy in the Sky with...
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