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William Shatner

Ponder the Mystery Revisited

Review by Gary Hill

This is a remix version of an album that was released in 2013. I really love that original album. I'd say that I am a big fan of this version, too. I prefer the original, though. This version seems to rely on punchier, perhaps more stadium rock type versions of the songs. It's definitely shorter, and the music often more direct and bombastic. It's still decidedly prog, but I just think it's a little less progressive rock oriented here. Don't get me wrong, it's still very strong. It's also nice to have an alternate version. It should be noted that I have quoted from a lot of my track reviews here, because those reviews fit the songs here at least to some degree, and it lends some consistency. As with the previous version (since these are the same recordings remixed), this includes a lot of great prog musicians, most of whom are listed as featured on specific tracks. One exception is Billy Sherwood who is featured throughout.

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Track by Track Review
Red Shift
This is almost half-a-minute shorter than it was on the original album. Here's what I said about it in the first review: "This powers in extremely dramatic and has some elements of Eastern music laced within the sonic tapestry. It’s a short instrumental introduction."
Where It’s Gone...I Don’t Know Feat. Mick Jones
This is also shorter than the other version. I said this about the introduction. "Acoustic guitar based melodic progressive rock serves as the background. Sung vocals start and Shatner’s spoken vocals run counterpoint to them." Those sung vocals have been removed, and I think the song is a little less without them. I said this about later parts of the song: "This is a slow moving number that’s dramatic and quite pretty. It has an understated beauty and majesty to it. The guitar solo (by Mick Jones) is particularly noteworthy." This does build outward, and works well, but I really prefer the version on the other disc.
Man Hunt Feat. Simon House
Nearly a minute is cut from this song in this version. I said this about the song on the original disc. "A somewhat mellower tune, this one makes me think of Open Your Eyes era of Yes quite a bit. That said, there is also Hawkwind-like space rock in this. Of course, when you consider former Hawkwind violinist Simon House plays on this song, that makes sense." This feels pretty trippy and freaky here. While this loses some play time, I think I might actually prefer this remix to the other version.
Ponder The Mystery Feat. Steve Vai
This runs exactly the same length here as it did on the original disc. I think it rocks out a little harder. Here's what I said in that first review. "In some ways the title track seems a bit more sparse in terms of its arrangement. That said, it’s somehow more accessible in some ways. As good as the first couple pieces were, this seems to work better somehow. It’s another great song. There are some almost Beatles-like moments in the arrangement here. It’s also got some awesome guitar courtesy of Steve Vai." I think this works at least as well here as it did first time around.
So Am I Feat. Al Di Meola
Now, this cut is about half-a-minute shorter than the other version. Here is what I said about this first time around, and I think it fits for this version, too. " A tribute to a four-legged furry friend, as a dog lover I can sure relate. This is quite slow and mellow. It’s also quite magical. The guitar solo section on this one is particularly noteworthy. Of course, it’s Al Di Meola, one of the greatest guitarists on Earth, so that makes sense.." I'd consider this version to be on an equal level with the other mix.
Change Feat. Rick Wakeman
The loss of time here is similar to that on the last track. This is what I said about the other version of this song: " This starts off rather tentatively. It gets more developed as the vocals emerge. Then it powers out into a cool jam that has a lot of symphonic elements, some world music and plenty of pure prog built into it. It’s a mystical kind of mix of sounds that wanders towards Beatles-like territory at times. I really love the keyboard soloing on this. Of course, it’s trademark Rick Wakeman, so that makes sense." I would say that holds pretty true here.
Sunset Feat Joel Vandroogenboreck
Close to half-a-minute shorter here, my original review said this about the song. " A rather dreamy tune, this makes me think of the more melodic and mellow side of early King Crimson. It’s got some real drama and magic built into it."  I'm not sure that I'd stick with that Crimson comparison here. This feels a little more space rock oriented. The flute is all class.
Twilight Feat. Edgar Winter
Now, at exactly two-minutes, this one is actually a second longer on this version of the album. I said this about the track first time around. "Very jazzy, this is soulful and sultry and very cool." I'd say it definitely applies here, too.
Rhythm of the Night Feat. Nik Turner
This track loses more than a minute in this version. I said this about this cut last time. "More of a fast paced Yes-like rocker, this is another tasty tune. There are some cool shifts and turns along this road. It does feel a lot like something that might have been on Yes’ Open Your Eyes album.  A saxophone later in the track lends some jazz to it. A flute solo should be mentioned, too. Both of those instruments are handled by former Hawkwind member Nik Turner." That works for this version, too. I really like this so much on both discs.
Imagine Things Feat. Vince Gill
"Acoustic guitar based sounds open this in a progressive rock ballad style. The cut grows into another that’s quite Yes-like. It’s also quite magical." Those words from my review of the first version of this album apply here, too. This is less than ten-seconds shorter than that other version. I'd say that it's equally effective.
Do You See Feat. Edgar Froese

About thirty seconds shorter than its predecessor, I said this about that version of the song. "If I had to describe this one in a short phrase I’d say Yes (perhaps Tormato era) meets psychedelia. There is an awesome instrumental section later and this is one of the more effective pieces here." I'd say that it's an accurate description of this version.

Deep Down Feat. Robby Krieger
These words in my track review of the first version apply to this mix, too. "I really love the groove on this one. It’s got a cool sound and is rocking...Robby Krieger handles both sitar and guitar on this." The song is more than half-a-minute shorter here.
I’m Alright, I Think Feat. Dave Koz
Again, this is about 30-seconds shorter than the other version was. This is harder rocking and driving. The keyboards are pretty cool here. There are some killer jazz elements at play. I don't think the original review fits this one that well, so I won't quote from it.
Where Does Time Go Feat. George Duke
They cut about three-minutes out of this song. This doesn't feel as mellow as the version on the other version, but it is on the mellow side of things compared to some of the rest. I said this about the original mix of the song: "This has a metered approach that’s appropriate for the lyrical content. It’s a mellow and quite trippy number. It’s also got some particularly tasty guitar work later in the number. This is one of the better cuts here. Considering the competition, that says a lot. George Duke (RIP) does a keyboard solo here." I'd say that this is less trippy, but no less reflective. It's also no less potent.
Alive Feat. Zoot Horn Rollo
I said this about the original version of this tune. "It’s one of the more energetic pieces here and just plain rocks. It’s a great way to end things in style." Those words apply here, too. This closer is a minute shorter than the other version of the song.
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