William Shatner has just released a new album called The Blues that features the Star Trek legend delivering theatrical spoken-word versions of various classic blues songs accompanied by a cast of well-known and respected musicians.
While a blues album might seem like an odd project for the beloved 89-year-old actor and entertainer, Shatner tells ABC Audio that he felt like he could imbue the songs with his own authentic emotions.
“I’m a white guy from Montreal, Canada. What do I know about the blues? But everybody knows about the blues,” he explains. “Everybody has had the pain of life and has wailed at one point or another.”
Among the guest musicians who contributed to the album were ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, former Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, country star Brad Paisley, Stax Records guitarist/producer Steve Cropper, Canned Heat and veteran blues-rocker Pat Travers.
“[W]hen these guys…agreed to be on the album, I mean, it was the height of a compliment,” Shatner says of his collaborators. “So what you hear on this album, The Blues, with me doing the words and the music coming out of these guys, is extraordinary.”
Among the standout tracks is a cover of B.B. King‘s “The Thrill Is Gone” featuring Blackmore on guitar.
Shatner describes the track as “fabulous,” “unique” and “uniquely mine.”
Coinciding with the album’s release, an animated video for Shatner’s over-the-top cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put a Spell on You” premiered on Cleopatra Records’ YouTube channel. The hilarious clip depicts a crazed cartoon Shatner at a seedy bar lusting unrequitedly over a flirtatious and buxom bartender.
The Blues is available now on CD and limited-edition colored vinyl. Here’s the full track list:
“Sweet Home Chicago” — featuring Brad Paisley
“I Can’t Quit You Baby” — featuring Kirk Fletcher
“Sunshine of Your Love” — featuring Sonny Landreth
“The Thrill Is Gone” — featuring Ritchie Blackmore
“Mannish Boy” — featuring Ronnie Earl
“Born Under a Bad Sign” — featuring Tyler Bryant
“I Put a Spell on You” — featuring Pat Travers
“Crossroads” — featuring James Burton
“Smokestack Lightnin'” — featuring Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
“As the Years Go Passing By” — featuring Arthur Adams
“Let’s Work Together” — featuring Harvey Mandel & Canned Heat
“Route 66” — featuring Steve Cropper
“In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company” — featuring Albert Lee
“Secrets or Sins”