Boston - Boston (REMASTERED)
Classic Rock
8 songs (37:41)
Release year: 1976
Reviewed by Jeff

REVIEWER INTRODUCTION: It's an unfortunate coincindence that a review of Boston's classic debut album Boston is now being posted shortly after the untimely passing of Boston's lead vocalist Brad Delp. The fact and truth of the matter is that I've been working on this classic review for the past few weeks and had every intention of getting it posted last week but things came up that prevented me from finishing the review. Now the timing is more right than ever to get this on the site. A classic review of Boston's debut album has been proposed several times among the Metal Reviews Team members but somehow got put off time and time again. It's a review that has been long over due to be a part of our Metal Reviews Classics section. Finally, it has a place in our data base! I hope you all enjoy reading it!

It's been over thirty years now since Boston first released their self titled debut album. It is an album whose cover depicted guitar shaped spaceships fleeing an exploding Earth. It is an album that was ahead of its time when it first came out and it still stands the test of time to this very day (I was only ten when I first discovered this). It's one of the very few debut rock albums in which every track still receives FM airplay on a consistent basis. It continues to sell very well decades after its initial release. It's a classic among classics!

One of the main misconceptions that has been rumored throughout the years is how Boston's debut album was actually recorded and how it finally came into fruition. Recording wise, Boston was more of a two man show than a five piece band. Almost everything created for Boston was due to the genius and mastermind of the band, Tom Scholz; an educated M.I.T. graduate. From the song structures and lyrics, to the signature Rockman guitar sounds and production credits. Scholz was responsible for playing most of the instruments on every song, including electric lead and rhythm guitars, bass guitar, acoustic guitars, the organ and the clavinet. All of the lead and harmony vocals were performed by Brad Delp. He really gave Boston's music a tremendous amount of heart and soul. Here's the story behind the music.

Back in 1976, Tom Scholz made demo tapes in some very expensive studios, along with the help of vocalist Brad Delp and drummer Jim Masdea. Scholz tried his best to shop the tapes to various record companies but was rejected several times. He even tried to have the songs played live by bringing Barry Goudreau on board to play lead guitar. A realization then came, which was whatever was on Scholz's mind musically was not making it onto tape and that no one was paying attention to the band when playing live. It was at that point Scholz decided to build a multitrack tape machine (twelve in all) in his basement, spending numerous painstaking hours isolating himself from the everyone and everything. By doing this, he could experiment with his ideas alone. He would play every instrument (except the drums, played by Jim Masdea) until he was satisfied with the results. Then Brad Delp, the one man vocal orchestra, would record his parts and take the music the next level. In the end, Scholz had finally captured something truly magical.

However, a strange twist would occur. What was recorded as a six song demo and potential album, and the process by which is was created, would be looked upon with scrutiny by record executives. It was even considered unorthodox by corporate standards. Scholz was told that the songs had to be re-recorded in a "professional studio" exactly the same way they were done in his home studio. Scholz was so used to playing and engineering the recordings alone in his basement that he was concerned that he would not be able to duplicate those magical demos in a professional studio; a route he had traveled on once before with no success.

With the help of Epic producer John Boylan, Scholz would record the multitrack masters in his basement by himself, while Boylan would fool the record company by recording a few of Delp's songs in L.A. with Barry Goudreau, Sib Hashian and Fran Sheehan. Then Scholz would join them for vocal overdubs and mixing. After laying down Sib Hashian's and Jim Masdea's drum tracks (Masdea provided the drum tracks on Rock & Roll Band), Scholz would re-record most of the bass, guitar and organ parts himself. Barry Goudreau would play lead and rhythm guitar on Long Time and Fran Sheehan would play bass on Foreplay. The only track that truley represented a band performance as a five piece unit (Tom, Brad, Fran, Sib and Barry) was Let Me Take You Home Tonight.

Some of the things that really made Boston's music stand out were their ability to mix a hard rock guitar sound with lots of melody and soaring vocal harmonies. Of course, Tom Scholz's Rockman guitar sound immediately identified Boston's music as soon as the first notes were played. Boston also incorporated the clavinet and organ into many of their songs. The organ is a truly grand instrument, giving a powerful background to the drums, bass and guitar when played to accommodate the melody lines, while at times taking a step forward in a lead role to provide some amazing keyboard solos that would give keyboard greats like Rick Wakeman, John Lord and Keith Emerson a run for the money. Acoustic guitars were also another key characteristic to Boston's sound. The use of six and twelve string guitars were blended well with the dynamics of the electric guitars; playing clean on some parts, then kicking in to some high energy power chords the next.

More Than A Feeling was Boston's biggest hit and probably their most memorable song ever. It was a power ballad of sorts. I really like the dynamics in this song between the soft, fade in of clean, crisp sounding acoustic guitars to the loud, energetic electric guitar power chords. Delp's vocals reach ranges right before the lead guitar break that are just simply amazing. Piece of Mind is an up tempo rocker that has a nice balance of rhythm acoustic guitar playing along with the electric guitars. When listening to the lead guitar solo, there are times when it is split between the right and left channels. This gives the listener the impression that there is a trade off between two players. However, Tom Scholz performed all of the guitar work on this track. Foreplay has to be one of the most recognizable and dynamic rock instrumentals ever. The subtle organ keyboard playing, the jazz like bass line runs and the sudden electric guitar power chords, along with the top secret space pedal effects, gives me the impression of some mad scientist working on a crazy experiment. I love how this track leads into Long Time; a song about moving on, not staying in one place for too long and facing the unknown road that lies ahead. The "monster guitar" sounds from Barry Gourdreau help give this song an ominous feel. Rock & Roll Band, from a lyrical standpoint, can pretty much be considered an autobiographical account of Boston's road to the top. They were "just another band out of Boston, on the road to try to make ends meet". This song has a boogie rock feel to it. Again, up tempo and full of energy. Smokin is very ZZ Top styled with its rhythm and blues guitar riff and bass line. It has a kick ass organ and clavinet solo to boot! Hitch A Ride is one of my favorite Boston songs ever. Like More Than A Feeling, it starts off with acoustic guitars and slowly builds to something much more climatic. The guitar solo was one of the first ones I tried to learn when first taking lessons. I love the melody on this song. Brad Delp's harmony vocals are very Beatles influenced. It's probably the most melodic song on the album. Again, their is some fantastic organ playing by Scholz, not to be overshadowed by the closing lead guitar solo. Something About You is another powerhouse rocker that might be an example of what came to be known as "corporate rock". Let Me Take You Home Tonight is another bluesy based rocker that ends with an up beat fade out.

This newly remastered version was well worth the wait. The sound and the mix has drastically improved, giving this album a listening experience unlike before. The new packaging for this CD was originally released as a digi-pack, something I've never been a big fan of. It contains a very detailed booklet as far as the history of this release, credits, comments about the tracks, etc.

Boston is just one of those albums that has been embedded in my head for all eternity. Just the mere thought of any note from any Boston song will start to play the entire song in my head as if I was actually listening to the CD. Over the years this album has become somewhat automatic with me. It's an album that I can never get tired of. There are not many other albums in the history of rock and roll that have come close to it's style or stamina.

R.I.P. Brad! Keep rockin' Heaven down!

Killing Songs :
Jeff quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Boston that we have reviewed:
Boston - Corporate America reviewed by Mike and quoted 60 / 100
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