Ahh, Boston. There have been great things from Boston. Boston Pizza, Boston Crème, Boston Bruins… okay maybe not so much the Bruins, but anyway, Boston is a good city. And Boston is also the name of a great rock band. Started by MIT graduate Tom Scholz, who kicked off his career by creating tape recordings off himself and his friends, Boston rose to fame in just a short amount of time.
And we can see why when we give this album a spin.
As Scholz got more and more frustrated with the lack of technology available at his hands, he used his wisdom gained from MIT to make his own equipment, which explains how unique the sound was for its time. This supported how Boston didn’t gradually build up their huge commercial success by releasing a huge slew of albums. They only put out six records, but, with the release of Boston, they blew into the music industry, guns blazing, and releasing three singles from this one album, all of them deserving the single title a lot, and having the same album receive seventeen platinum certifications.
After releasing their debut (which is the highest selling debut put out by an American band), they continued on to release five more albums. They followed up this album with the 1978 release of Don’t Look Back, which was certified 7x platinum. Third Stage followed that, snagging 4 platinum certifications. Only one platinum was awarded to 1994’s Walk On. Of course, by this time, a Greatest Hits album was in demand, so that’s what was put out, and was certified 2x platinum. And, finally, Boston’s last release was the one time certified gold Corporate America. I guess you could say that with a massive hit like their debut, Boston went somewhat downhill following that success. Don’t lose hope in them though, since they’re still active… with only two band members (Tom Scholz and Brad Delp).
Anyway, enough with band history, and onto the actual review!
The album kicks off with the single More Than a Feeling. Beginning with some nice acoustic, you can tell the song will be a great opener. Many people will agree with me here – the vocals on More Than a Feeling are outstanding, with no apparent cracks or falters. The song also has nice shifts from acoustic to overdrive, with drum fills signaling the change. And when Boston makes that transition, it’s a good one, since it leads directly into the amazingly catchy chorus. The tone of the guitar is absolutely outstanding for its time. It’s not too overpowered, but still tuned correctly to get the correct overdrive down, supporting how catchy the chorus. The acoustic cannot go unrecognized either. The mix of notes played over the acoustic are superb, composed of a riff played over higher notes with the low note played for an added effect. As stated before, the vocals are simply amazing, and are timed perfectly with the song. Brad has a great, clear voice that can really captures the pleasant mood of the track. The song is about, well, a song. The subject about a familiar song, in which Brad sings about becoming absorbed by an old familiar tune. We go into the next track, ready and psyched from the great opener that we’ve just listened to.
Following More Than a Feeling is the song that got me interested in Boston. Peace of Mind is equally, if not more, addictive to More Than a Feeling. The song opens up with more acoustic, but is not picked but rather strummed. Also, the overdrive comes in much earlier than the opener, with a miniature solo. The vocals are, again, great when Brad comes in. The verse is short, and, during the chorus, is backed up by incredibly well-done background vocals and more catchy guitar. Another verse follows, as well as another chorus, and the incredible solo breaks out. Tom really struts his stuff here, with a fast guitar solo that not only sounds great, but blends in with the song perfectly. The solo goes on for approximately forty seconds, then we go back to the song. The bridge isn’t too far off from the solo. It consists of some very well pulled off music that mixes the most of every instrument and the vocals, and then abruptly halts. Following that, it’s as if someone just restarted the song, because we get a lone electric playing the opening riff, followed by the miniature solo that opened the song. The lyrics that make up Peace of Mind are very good as well. Brad sings about just living life and not having to be so competitive all the time. Peace of Mind is, in my opinion, the best track on Boston, mainly because of how catchy it is.
We then come upon the longest song on Boston. The aptly titled Foreplay/Long Time begins with a good display of keyboarding, and is soon accompanied by three short bursts of the guitar, followed up by the inclusion of some hi-hat tapping and bass. The song bursts into a nice high-energy instrumentation. All of the instruments are evident here. The guitar plays the usual catchy riff, but has breaks in the action, which are filled by keyboard and bass. The drumming is here, but is mainly just cymbal work. After the short segment of instrumentation, we find ourselves in the middle of a mass ascending piece, in which all of the instruments seem to be playing ascending riffs, with more smacks on the cymbal from Jim. The music suddenly comes to a halt, and a church-like keyboard piece is played over some electronic effects. After a few long notes, the guitar slowly fades in, and a miniature guitar solo breaks out. Then the vocals come in. The verse concentrates on the bass quite a bit, since the guitar isn’t heard quite as much. There’s a shift to acoustic played over more of Brad’s amazing vocals, and after a few seconds we switch back to electric and another miniature solo comes in. We get another bass-heavy verse, with occasional bursts on the guitar and consistent snare whacks. There’s another acoustic break, with some clapping in the background. The overdrive kicks back in, and we get the full-blown solo this time. Although somewhat drowned out by the other instruments, the solo still manages to impress and stand out from the previous two on the album. The outro follows the solo, and is somewhat similar to the bridge from Peace of Mind, with the music stopping suddenly and the lone electric coming in. There’s some more music, and the track slowly fades into the next track. Overall, Foreplay/Long Time is a great track, and really displays good use of the bass and keyboard.
We begin Rock and Roll Band with a slightly muted guitar riff, and we then find ourselves listening to a typical rock and roll song, steady beat, superb vocals and all. The verse basically explains the beginning of Boston, how they played on the streets with little money. Somehow, they “get up on stage” and are instantly successful. The chorus is another typical chorus, with great sounding guitar played over Brad’s vocals and a great drum line. We get into the next verse, in which Boston’s getting more successful, and “everyone knows their name”. People line up to see their concerts, and we break into another chorus, with the “pre-chorus” played over a cheering crowd. After the chorus, another solo breaks out, but doesn’t stand out quite as much as the rest, mainly because of its brief length and average skill level. In the third verse, Brad sings about how the band signs onto a record label, and how they “have great expectations”. That cues the chorus. Following the chorus is the quick outro played over the cheering crowd again, and the song ends. Rock and Roll Band isn’t the greatest song out there, and definitely the weakest on Boston. Every album has its fillers though, and Rock and Roll Band is the one here.
Smokin’ starts out the same way Rock and Roll Band does with a lone guitar riff. There’s a short drumroll, and the whole band is up and running. The verse in Smokin’ is somewhat funk-like, with some more emphasis on bass and picked guitar. The chorus comes up somewhat unexpectedly, with no pre-chorus. There’s a quick descending guitar part, and the song’s title is sung. It’s a pretty typical chorus, again, but it is a slight improvement over Rock and Roll Band. The verse returns, with the catchy riff played over it again. The verse the second time around seems a bit shorter, since it’s only a few seconds until we find ourselves listening to the chorus again, followed by a lengthy, very well done keyboard solo. The bridge boots up after, with a muted guitar playing a nice riff with a string instrument in the background (I’m not sure of what it is). Another church-like keyboard part is played, similar to the one in Foreplay/Long Time. A little bit of instrumentation follows, and the funky outro comes in, and the song is over just like that. Overall, Smokin’ is a great addition to Boston, with its funky riff and juicy keyboard solo.
Following Smokin’ is Hitch a Ride. The song begins with an acoustic riff. Brad’s singing comes in. It’s now apparent that this is one of the album’s slower tracks, with emphasis on singing. The chorus is Brad, singing beautifully with the rest of the band, with a great smooth voice. The clean guitar here is great, with an upbeat, slow line played, and the drumming keeps a great beat. The verse uses an effective mix of clean and acoustic, but, being a slower song, bass isn’t heard quite as much. Brad’s vocals are consistent, and he sings right on tune with the music. Another chorus is played, and another keyboard solo emerges, speeding up the song with it. The solo is brief, but well-played, and leaves the listener with another guitar solo, but doesn’t really stand out that much. The chorus comes back in, and a second guitar solo begins, played over some background clapping. This solo is very good, since it goes on to end the song. The track ends, and we go into the next track, satisfied with what Hitch a Ride has given us.
Something About You begins with a quiet chant and a clean guitar riff. There is a few seconds of silence, and the song begins. Despite the first impressions left by the intro, the song is actually one of the more fast-paced on Boston. The verse doesn’t really concentrate on any instrument in particular, but rather lets the whole band work together. The pre-chorus is great, since it’s not only Brad singing. Plus, the tone is ascending, creating a great build-up. The great build-up goes into a great chorus, which, surprisingly, is not sung by Brad, and it still manages to come out superb. The next verse comes, and we notice that the drumming on Something About You is better than that found on any of the other songs, probably due to the quick beat of the song. The solo on Something About You isn’t the greatest, because it’s about ten seconds long, but the vocals in the background add a unique touch. Although the song may be an teensy bit repetitive, it’s still a nice song to listen too.
We come upon our last track, Let Me Take You Home Tonight, which begins with some plucked clean guitar, with some drums. The music halts, and Brad begins to sing. He seems to be at the top of his game when he first comes in, with perfect tone and timing. The chorus is a little more country-like, with a nice calming effect. The background vocals on Let Me Take You Home Tonight are outstanding, especially in the chorus, adding onto that country feel the song has. Also, the solo is very fitting to the song, since it’s a slower one, and the sudden electric is an awesome effect. The song speeds up later on, and this is where the drumming really stands out, making very good use of the cymbals. Also, Brad is absolutely incredible, belting out his lines. We are left satisfied with a great album.
The album is overall an absolute masterpiece. Even for a metal-lover like myself, this album cannot go unrecognized, and, obviously, has not. Recommended for everybody. Enjoy if you haven’t already.