Easy Listening

Shatner Claus: The Christmas Album (CD)

Stardate: the night before Christmas. That's right Shatner fans, at last the Captain of the Starship has landed in the North Pole, with an impressive crew of guest stars, taking the Christmas album where no Christmas album has gone before. Take, for instance, Shatner's duet of "Jingle Bells" with Henry Rollins, sounding like a tightly wound but enthusiastic caroler, and featuring boozy, new lyrics that may take a couple of listens to fully understand. Or take Shatner's oddly syncopated, quasi-scatted "Little Drummer Boy," which finds the veteran Star Trek actor in one of his most committed roles. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons gives Shat's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" some Texas-blues swagger, while Brad Paisley adds some country-twang to the Elvis classic "Blue Christmas," which features spoken word interludes that further illustrate in more literal terms just why and how they're having such a bad Christmas. One of the more surprisingly fitting pairings is on "Silent Night," featuring none other than Iggy Pop. Perhaps in retrospect it makes sense, but who would have thought that the beat-poem-on-quaaludes style of Shatner's rantings would fit so nicely with Iggy's Berlin-era-style crooning? And of course, what Christmas album would be complete without an aggressively inspirational rendition of "Feliz Navidad?" Certainly not this one.

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