Ah, the holiday season. A time to celebrate with family and friends, to partake in long standing traditions of religious services, meal sharing, gift giving. And as music lovers, to appreciate the music of the season.
So just in time for Christmas, we have a new album from William Shatner (of Star Trek Captain Kirk fame) called “Shatner Claus”. Shatner, the self described “godfather of dramatic musical interpretation” (ahem…) has released a number of “albums” over the years in a number of genres. I’m not sure what is meant by dramatic musical interpretation, but if it means Shatner talk/singing lyrics to songs in his patented way over the top, overly emotional dramatic to the point of farce way, then he is in peak form on this album. The songs are so distractedly bad that when listening to it for the first time on my way home from work, I accidentally took the wrong exit off the freeway (a route I have taken so often I could normally do it in my sleep!)
Interestingly (or amazingly in my mind) he has recruited a number of legitimate musicians to accompany him on these songs. Its an eclectic mix, from Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to Brad Paisley, Judy Collins, and Rick Wakeman of Yes. In a number of cases, this makes the songs tolerable, until of course we begin with the “dramatic musical interpretation of Santa Shatner.
So what does it sound like?- picture if you will the obnoxious uncle who comes over for the holiday celebration, has too much to drink, and commandeers the Christmas song karaoke machine to entertain the family. Let me give you some examples.
Have you ever wondered what Jingle Bells would sound like if on the sleigh ride you brought along a case of beer, and had Henry Rollins along to scream “JINGLE BELLS!!” at you? Well, here you go:
Winter Wonderland is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and when done right, it can really conjure up a beautiful traditional Christmas scene, even if its not snowing outside. And then there’s this.
After this performance, perhaps the other adults suggest you take your uncle out to get something to eat – unfortunately, the restaurant you choose is playing Christmas music, and Feliz Navidad comes on – Uncle Bill (after a few more drinks) decides he really needs to wish everyone in the restaurant a Merry Christmas. Well, it might sound something like this.
And it goes on from there. I won’t torture you with many more – but if you wonder how Silent Night as done by Shatner and Iggy Pop might sound, or Shatner’s take on the “ba radda da dum” of Little Drummer Boy” you’re on your own. Oh, and there is also a punk rock version of Jingle Bells again with Henry Rollins that sounds like an outtake after a long night of drinking – just perfect for the family sing along.
I leave you with the only official video from the album, Shatner Claus “singing” Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with some help from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. If you can ignore the creepy elves and the fact that they appear to have decided midway through to finish the song at a college frat party/rave with Santa dressed as a Vegas lounge singer, its not that bad….
Happy Holidays to everyone!