If you have ever heard Shatner’s painfully awkward “The Transformed Man” from the 1960s (if unsure, ask yourself if you’ve ever winced at a rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man”), and if you’ve also heard his wonderfully surprising and deeply personal “Has Been” from 2004, you’ll find “Seeking Major Tom” to fall pretty much in the middle.
Perhaps it’s the return to space (almost every song has a rocket in it somewhere), perhaps it’s the knowing but weary voice that on some of the rockers occasionally needs a boost, but something about this disc really feels like a last stand of sorts, like it’s Shatner’s last chance to wrap it all up in 20 (yes, 20) songs. The sincerity, the irony, the sincere irony, the fascination with space, being a part of the history of the 60s … and of course that Shatner-esque cadence. All are catalogued for posterity, as a defining statement on the man in of all his self-aware, self-indulgent, self-reflective glory. And best summed up in the only original and most interesting track on the disc – the sincere, “Struggle.”
The rest is largely covers of seminal 70s AOR fare. “Space Oddity,” “Rocket Man” and “Spirit in the Sky” all are unsurprising choices, making 80s representatives “Major Tom,” “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Twilight Zone” stand out.
The cavalcade of classic rock aces can be a little disorienting. Ritchie Blackmore appears on Bowie’s “Oddity” but not on his own “Space Trucking” (though former Deep Purple bandmate Ian Paice does); Steve Miller “guests” on his own “Space Cowboy” and nails an even better solo than he did in 1969; Bootsy joyfully yowls out “Science” on the Dolby cover and more. The number of familiar faces in strange places (welcome back, Asia’s John Wetton) is enough to make your head spin.
It’s hard to see anyone listening to it all at one go, but there is definitely something for everyone, especially if you don’t mind your favorite lyrics of the 1970s a little… Shatnerized. If it’s a last hurrah, it’s not a bad way to go out, old Captain. Rock long and prosper.