The Baseball Project – Volume Two: High and Inside (Yep Roc) Album review
By Craig Glasheen
The sun is shining, there’s new grass on the field, summer is here, and it’s another season for the Baseball Project. Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck, and Linda Pitmon return with their second release entitled, Volume Two: High and Inside. Much like its predecessor, 2008’s Volume One: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails, this is an extraordinary combination of great music with snippets of baseball history.
The first song, “1976” is an upbeat Tom Petty-style tune about Detroit Tigers phenom Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. “Panda and the Freak” is a pseudo-punk tune that dismisses other baseball nicknames and players as being inferior to San Francisco Giants stars – specifically Pablo Sandoval (Kung Fu Panda) and Tim Lincecum (The Freak). “Fair Weather Fans” is a sing-along reminiscent of the Welcome Back Kotter theme in describing each band member’s allegiance to their hometown teams though they now live elsewhere. From the Graham Parker-esque “Please Don’t Call Them Twinkies” to the alt-country of “Pete Rose Way” the Baseball Project comfortably covers a range of musical styles – they even sound like R.E.M. on “Buckner’s Bolero” and “The Straw That Stirs the Drink”.
Not all baseball references are happy ones however… “Tony (Boston’s Chosen Son)” tells the story of Boston Red Sox player Tony Conigliaro and how his promising career was derailed when he was struck in the eye by a pitch. “Twilight of My Career” is sung from the perspective of the great Roger Clemens as he laments his career ending in disgrace. “Here Lies Carl Mays” is a haunting melody sung from the perspective of late Carl Mays about how he could never escape the moment he threw the pitch that killed Ray Chapman.
The Baseball Project’s Volume Two: High and Inside is recommended for anyone who knows and loves baseball history or anyone who wants to put a so-called baseball know-it-all in their place by dropping these references in conversation (the liner notes are your key). Either way, this is a fun record, perfectly suited for summer.