William Shatner - Ponder the Mystery Revisited
by Kevin Wierzbicki
Ten years ago Shatner released Ponder the Mystery
, a spoken word effort featuring a cornucopia of prog rock luminaries that stands as one of his best albums. Now the album has been remixed by Jurgen Engler and it sounds better than ever. Billy Sherwood of Yes provides the backbone of the music, playing acoustic and electric guitar, bass and keyboards on every track while a different guest player from the prog world and beyond is featured on each track. Shatner's voice is full of wonderment and awe as he ponders the great unknowns of life and space, beginning with "Where It's Gone...I Don't Know," a cut about a man who's lost his way in life where Mick Jones of Foreigner guests on electric guitar. Title cut "Pondering the Mystery" with Steve Vai on guitar has a similar tone while "So Am I" with jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola features an interesting perspective as Shatner compares himself (or the man he's portraying) to a beloved dog that's about to expire. Rick Wakeman plays a keys solo on "Change," Edgar Winter fires up his sax (and Moog) for a trippy slice of psych-tinged prog on "Twilight" and the late Nik Turner of Hawkwind fame adds sax and flute parts to "Rhythm of the Night." In an earthier mood is "Imagine Things" with Vince Gill on mandolin and acoustic guitar; the piece stays though within the prog framework that defines the album. Also appearing are Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), Robby Krieger (the Doors), jazz stars Dave Koz and George Duke, Belgian multi-instrumentalist Joel Vandroogenbroeck and one time member of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Zoot Horn Rollo. Shatner's words here may very well have listeners pondering great mysteries and the accompanying music made by a stellar group of musicians is just the ticket to help the mind explore.