PONDER THE MYSTERY REVISITED
William Shatner is known for his popular roles on television, including Captain Kirk (Star Trek), T.J. Hooker, and $#*! My Father Says. Since 1968, he has also been recording albums, including nine studio and one live release. Over the years he has worked with well-known and respected rock and country artists such as Joe Jackson, Iggy Pop, Ben Folds, Brad Paisley, and Joe Walsh. His 2013 album, Ponder The Mystery has been remixed by producer Jürgen Engler. It does not have any new songs, but the overall sound is somewhat different and maybe even a little better than the original.
Let’s be clear from the outset. Shatner does not sing, he recites. Yes member Billy Sherwood, who wrote the music and produced the original album, has come up with some mini prog rock songs, with a great deal of heavy metal thrown in to make it an interesting album. There is even a little jazz, courtesy of Edgar Winter on “Twilight”, as well as some country. As with most of Shatner’s recent albums, there are a number of guests, including the previously mentioned Winter, as well as Vince Gill, Al Di Meola, Steve Vai, Mick Jones of Foreigner, George Duke, Rick Wakeman, Edgar Froese, and Robby Krieger. It is an impressive line-up and quite frankly, the musicianship on the album is top notch.
Ponder The Mystery Revisited is not a bad album, and should not be treated as a joke, as I think everyone involved treated it quite seriously. It is Shatner’s delivery that lets the project down in spots. He just overacts. In some instances, this works well, such as on the title track, which features some great guitar work from Steve Vai. As Shatner reads off the ills of the world, Vai goes to town and the combination is great. But elsewhere, songs like “Rhythm Of The Night” reminds me of Bela Lugosi’s speeches in Dracula set to prog/jazz. The song does feature Nik Turner of Hawkwind who provides some great saxophone and flute. Here, Shatner’s delivery becomes more of a distraction than part of the song.
There are surprises, such as the country/folk of “Imagine Things” which features Vince Gill. The music is fine, and the lyrics and poetry are fine. Again, Shatner is perfect for the song.
“Imagining things that are not there/
Tigers, waiting in their lair….
What’s lurking behind the trees? /
What fears are there?”
Great stuff and delivered well. And Edgar Froese’s “Do You See” works as well, as Shatner tones down the overacting and really just reads. It is the highlight of the album. Also, Sherwood deserves a great deal of credit for his drumming on this track. In fact, Sherwood deserves a great deal of credit since he plays most of the instruments on the album.
Ponder The Mystery Revisited is an interesting release, however I am not really sure it needed to be remixed from the original. While it sounds nice, overall the original sounded just fine too. But it is a good prog rock album, mainly due to the support and help Shatner gets throughout. This will become a great conversation piece at your next party. Nothing wrong with that. And the lyrics and poetry do say a great deal, especially about coming together and saving the world, but in the end, this is a Shatner prog rock album.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: WILLIAM SHATNER – PONDER THE MYSTERY REVISITED