The first thing that I noticed when I picked up this CD, was that the music was played
by the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler. I soon found out why:
for this is the sort of light classical music one associated with Fiedler and the Boston Pops.
The film Ship of Fools (1965) was about the voyage in 1933 of a German liner from Vera Cruz
in Mexico to Bremerhaven with a mixed bag of passengers.
The album which was first released in 1965 has been refurbished for this new CD incarnation
and the sound has excellent clarity and perspective with that spacious feeling associated with
Boston's Symphony Hall. This collection of music seems largely to be associated with the public
rooms of the liner. Gold provides glittering waltzes parodying those associated with the Vienna
of the Strauss or the Paris of Waldteufel; there are also quaint salon pieces with twittering
violin solos, producing the sort of cloying sentimentality one associated with palm court ensembles.
Then there are sensuous tangos and spritely polkas. There is even a Charleston (for an old fool)
that is preluded by some ghostly material as though it were being played in some haunted ballroom.
There is very little here to suggest the narrative or characters in the screenplay. The opening
track 'Goodby to Vera Cruz' has some exotically coloured Mexican-style music enfolding a broad
sweeping romantic melody with Gold in Steiner mode. At the other end of the album, romance is
subjugated to harsher fascist mores as the liner is greeted at its German destination by the
strains of a military band divesting the main theme of all its warmth. The only other concession
to plot that I could discover was 'Ship of Fools (Love Theme)' - an engaging interlude. Enjoyable
for what it is