Disc Man

ENCORE! THE BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA. Keith Lockhart, conductor. (RCA Victor).

Cutie-pie Keith Lockhart herein presents his favorite recordings from five years as Papa Pops. Everything's in tune, the tone's great, percussion's precise, horns blast on cue. Every bold and brassy forte is brightly illuminated for your audio pleasure.

But this is Popsland, where the "pops" treatment rules. Welcome to white people's fantasyland—the land of the free and the home of the brave, where family values are the order of the day. Whether it's "Song of the Volga Boatman" or "Doodletown Fifers," everything sounds like the sonic equivalent of those brightly colored dots on the plastic wrapping of Wonder Bread. So what if, instead of toiling away on the Volga, the boatman sounds like he's about to take a "Sleigh Ride" through "Magh Scola (The Level Plain)?" Who cares if Riverdance and Bizet's Farandole march in the Mardi Gras with the "Doodletown Fifers?" It's the Boston Pops, where Stars and Stripes go on Forever and the Empire Strikes Back triumphant.

The biggest travesty on this homogenized recording is the live "special bonus tracks" featuring conductor Keith leading his audience into "Long Live the King!--A Tribute to Elvis." Elvis without a pelvis, that's for certain: "Jailhouse Rock" doesn't, the "Can't Help Falling in Love" sing-along is grounds for divorce, and the conclusion ain't nothin' like a "Hound Dog."

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