The United States Naval Academy Men's Glee Club has released several similar live discs, featuring the same kinds of music: European classical selections, songs of the sea (here including a selection from Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore), and various kinds of pop music. Both this one and the disc called On Tour feature live performances, straightforwardly done and with a good deal of audience noise. This one, however, does not capture actual performances during the group's European tour, but instead presents, in recordings made at the Naval Academy Chapel (similar in sonic ambiance, one is told, to the European cathedrals where the group appeared), the program sung in Europe. The singers are a lot of fun, technically neither better nor worse than what you would hear at most other college glee club concerts. There's a lot of variety to the program. The singers and their director, Dr. John Talley, both bring unusual items that you wouldn't be likely to hear outside a marine context (or a program of traditional folk music), like the early sea chantey Spanish Ladies (track 4), some of them in arrangements apparently by Talley himself. There are also, unlike on the On Tour program, several original compositions of an attractively straightforward nature. The larger group breaks down three times into smaller ensembles: a barbershop quartet (with several great 100-year-old items from that repertory) and a contemporary a cappella group called the Skivs and Those Guys, singing pieces like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." These smaller groups seem to vary as midshipmen enter and leave the larger ensemble as they complete their academy careers, and that's all to the good musically; the program never feels ossified. You might actually expect a stronger emphasis on patriotic songs than is actually the case; expected standards such as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" are here, but most of the disc is not patriotic. Those whose collections encompass the unique conjunction between music and the military will enjoy this release, as will collectors of American collegiate ephemera.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim