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Shatner's album, with his then current TV persona prominently featured.

William Alan Shatner (1931- ) is a Canadian actor most famous for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk in the science-fiction TV series Star Trek and the subsequent film franchise. Trading on this persona, he released an LP in 1968, The Transformed Man, which was an attempt to compare and contrast Shakespearian monologues (he had trained as such and appeared at The Stratford Festival Of Canada) with contemporary songs by, among others, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Don Ralke, and presenting them from the perspective of an LSD user. However, Shatner's eccentric style, which involved highly mannered and exaggerated readings (and at one point shouting), as opposed to singing, of the lyrics, made the album an object of ridicule and it was a commercial failure. This did not stop Shatner from pursuing his musical bent: his 1978 hosting of the Science Fiction Film Awards featured a much-parodied performance of Elton John's Rocket Man (in which he seems to be in possession of an everlasting cigarette). [1]
William Shatner

William Shatner

Shatner's performance, introduced by Bernie Taupin. What the songwriter made of this treatment is unknown.

Despite the general disdain with which his work has been met, Shatner has defended his style, although that has not prevented him from spoofing it on occasion. AllMusic.com notes:

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.[1]

Peel claimed to have been aware of the LP for many years (although it appears that its mention in a magazine he was reading prior to 12 January 1991 is the first he had heard of it), in particular the "cheesy music" and exaggerated flourishes of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, when it was resurrected by Rev-Ola for a 1992 re-release on CD, and he played several tracks from it, always with an eye for its 'cultural' impact. On BFBS, he read out part of Shatner's liner notes with no little amusement. When Shatner's co-star on Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy, was treated to a re-release of his own slightly less histrionic material later in the following year, JP naturally played that too. The Peel-narrated documentary Funk Me Up, Scotty featured Shatner heavily, along with other Star Trek-related ephemera.

It is possible that, had he lived long enough, John would also have enjoyed Shatner's 2005 version of Pulp's Common People featuring Joe Jackson on the parts of the song that required somebody who could sing.

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Footnotes
  1. Beck makes reference to this in his video for the 1996 song Where It's At.
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