It is not often a band is able to release a debut album filled with songs of such perfection that they would not only become instant favorites, but would later develop into cherished and iconic hard rock classics. But for Boston, a band started by MIT graduate Tom Scholz, such a fantasy became an instant reality with the release of their self-titled album, Boston.
Although not released as an LP until 1976, much of the work from Boston was done in years prior to the actual formation of Boston, such as the opening track, and arguably its most notable single, “More Than a Feeling.” Scholz worked for five years perfecting the song. He wanted to create music with strong vocal harmonies, melodic hooks and classically inspired guitar lines; all qualities that would later be the defining elements of the “Boston sound.”
Boston wastes no time impressing audiences with their innovation of rock as the self-titled album opens with the iconic guitar riff of “More Than a Feeling” fading in before Brad Delp’s vocals are introduced by the quick roll of a drum. There is a unity between the vocal work and the powerful instrumental lines that is so perfectly balanced allowing for each musician to showcase his talents. Between Delp’s falsetto and Scholz’s wonderfully executed guitar lines, there is no way to pinpoint one specific element that can be credited to making this song such a success, as it all has equal measures of contributing to its greatness.
Following “More Than a Feeling” and wrapping up the A-side of the album are “Peace of Mind” and “Foreplay/Longtime,” both of which were released as singles and very well-received. “Peace of Mind” was a song written by Scholz about climbing the corporate ladder while he was working for Polaroid Corporation. The song is upbeat with heavy rhythmic drumming and strong electric guitar lines, really pushing and defying the sound of hard rock. “Foreplay,” the instrumental prelude to “Longtime,” is more of a psychedelic rock with synthesizer-like sounds that were created by pics being slid along the strings of electric guitars that were on high distortion and delay.
Boston starts the B-side of their album with the semi-autobiographical narrative that so many can relate to, “Rock & Roll Band” The journey of “just another band out of Boston/On the road to try to make ends meet/Playing all the bars/ Sleeping in [their] cars/And we practiced right out in the street.” This is the only song on the album that features Jim Masdea on drums, who was the drummer alongside Delp and Scholz for an early version of Boston called Mother’s Milk.
From here Boston rolls into a rhythm and blues boogie, “Smokin.” Delp and Scholz wrote an early version called “Shakin’” which was recorded under Mother’s Milk. The heavy organ breakdowns and upbeat rhythms have made this song a dance anthem for Boston fans. Listeners can’t help but follow the bands direction as Delp sings out to “Get your feet to the floor/everybody rock and roll/you’ve got nothing to lose just the rhythm and blues….everybody jumpin’, dancin’ to the boogie tonight”
The next two songs on the album, “Hitch A Ride” and “Something About You,” are both appealing songs. Though they may lack the same innovative qualities that are exhibited on the rest of the album, they are still great songs. “Hitch A Ride” begins with an acoustic riff introducing Delp’s voice singing “Day is night in New York City.” The drums come in, bring up the energy before Delp breaks into the chorus: “Gonna hitch a ride/Head for the other side/leave it all behind/never change my mind.”
The album closes out on a pop-ballad with “Let Me Take You Home Tonight.” It’s a simple song yet just as appealing as any of the other compilations. More importantly, it fades out in the same fashion as Boston faded in with “More Than A Feeling,” which makes the album feel as if it is not just a collection of songs, but instead a cohesive work of art to be enjoyed as a whole. And that it certainly achieved.
Although many music experts questioned the success of the guitar centric album during the reign of disco and glam rock, Boston became one of the bestselling debut albums of all-time, selling 20 million copies worldwide, 17 million of which were sold in the United States. The album stayed on the Billboard 200 chart for 132 weeks, peaking at number 3. Their first single of the album, “More Than a Feeling,” reached number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was ranked as the 39th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.
Half of the albums songs made it onto Boston’s Greatest Hits release in 1997. Boston alsomade Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums of All Time list, coming in impressively at number 41.
Not only was Boston a successful album for its time, it remains a beloved classic across the world. Most every song on the album has a timeless quality that has allowed for generations of people to enjoy Boston. To this day, the album can be heard in its entirety on radio airways.
While no album sold nearly as many copies as Boston, the band continued to find success. Their following two albums, Don’t Look Back (1978) and Third Stage (1986), both reached number 1 on Billboard’s 200 charts. The awaited release of Third Stage, however, became an entity of self-indulgent ridicule, as its anticipation faded with each passing year.
In 2013, Boston released their latest album, Life, Love & Hope. Boston began recording the album in 2002 and was able to capture and exhibit the last of Brad Delp’s vocal work before his unfortunate suicide in 2007.
Boston is currently wrapping up a summer tour that has reached across the United States and Japan. The touring Boston consists of Tony Scholz, Gary Pihl on guitar and vocals, Tommy DeCarlo on lead vocals, keyboards and percussion, Tracy Ferrie on bass and vocals and Kimberley Dahme on rhythm guitar and vocals.
Reviewer: Jessica Braun Gervais
IRC: Lucy Patton
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