This homefield recording from the Boston Pops looks like an item for the Fenway Park gift shop, but actually it's an offbeat release from the venerable Boston orchestra in which even a New York Yankees fan might find something to enjoy. You get an essay comparing Fenway with Symphony Hall by famed Boston sportswriter Mike Barnicle, not to mention conductor Keith Lockhart in a baseball jersey, and the program reflects a bit of the peculiarity of Major League Baseball's oldest park. What else would you expect from a city that calls itself the Hub, basing that on a newspaper article that appeared more than 200 years ago. Things start off conventionally enough, with The Star-Spangled Banner, Sousa marches, and an accompanied Casey at the Bat. But what is "Sweet Caroline" doing there? It's a fixture of the loudspeaker music at Fenway, installed by a Red Sox staffer in the 1990s without knowledge of the fact that Neil Diamond wrote it about Caroline Kennedy. And the Dropkick Murphys/Woody Guthrie necro-collaboration I'm Shipping Up to Boston makes an even more unusual Boston Pops item. Potential buyers should take note of a couple of things. First, this is almost an EP; with a total length of just over 36 minutes, it ought to be available at a discounted price. Second, the recording was made live at Symphony Hall, and sound, usually unimpeachable with the Boston Pops, is subpar even with the help of the "additional recording" mentioned in the credits. That can't dampen the enthusiasm of the Beantown crowd, though, and this disc may be just the thing for a lot of summer baseball-watching parties.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Natural, film score|