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William Shatner - 'The Blues' Hot

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Written by James Gaden     October 13, 2020    
 
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One of his best albums to date.

William Shatner is a household name thanks to his long list of acting roles, but his quirky musical output also has quite a following. His first foray into mixing spoken word interpretations with music came via 1968's 'The Transformed Man', which resulted in confusion and mirth from those not privy to what he was trying to achieve. Since then though, he absolutely nailed the combination of tongue-in-cheek spoken renditions with genuine excellence on 2004's phenomenal 'Has Been' record and never looked back. He tackled Classic Rock on the double concept album 'Seeking Major Tom', Progressive Rock with Billy Sherwood on 'Ponder The Mystery', made a Country album with Jeff Cook and even put out a star-studded Christmas CD.

His latest effort sees him taking on the Blues and it's a genre that really suits him. The Blues has always been more about the message than the vocals and Shatner, as a skilled orator, is capable of bringing all manner of feeling to some of these classics. The exuberant message of 'Let's Work Together' (with Canned Heat) is superb, while his delivery of 'Crossroads', accompanied by legendary six stringer James Burton, works extremely well.

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Shatner's humour is present here too, with a wonderfully demented performance of 'I Put A Spell On You, which sees the actor channel his inner obsessive stalker, while Pat Travers performs suitable guitar refrains. He sounds positively joyous on 'Sweet Home Chicago', which charges along with aid from Brad Paisley, counterpointed by a brooding take on Cream's 'Sunshine Of You Love', backed by Sonny Landreth. 'Mannish Boy' also demonstrates how much preparation Shatner put into learning about the Blues, boasting probably the most convincing delivery on the record.

It would be remiss of me not to mention 'The Thrill Is Gone' which features the inimitable guitar tones of Ritchie Blackmore and in amongst all these great Blues standards is a brand new track called 'Secrets And Sins' which nestles comfortably next to the well-worn material.

The veteran actor's tones and phrasing work particularly well for Blues songs and he is aided by his usual pantheon of guitar players. That combination makes this album one of his best to date.

James Gaden

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