Review Summary: But there was something about... Yeah there was something about you.Boston
(the album) is both great rock and roll and great songwriting, which sounds like a trivially easy task to accomplish. After all, rock and roll is a form of songwriting, so aren’t the two correlated? It’s a finer line than one might think. A truly successful song, one that manages to stick around on the airwaves and in the hearts and minds of people for a long, long time, has to do everything just right. It needs to be simple and catchy enough so that those of us who are not musically-minded can appreciate it, but complex enough that it’s willing to do something different, stand out from the crowd. A truly outstanding song doesn’t do a single that you anticipate, true, but it does all the things you do anticipate, and that fine mixture of simplicity and complexity is necessary to make a song come alive in the most complete and believable way. That’s the reason songs like Stairway to Heaven
, Bohemian Rhapsody
, and God Only Knows
(just to name a few) have stuck around for so long – they resonate with the audience, but they also surprise the audience for all sorts of reasons.
Boston recognized this, and that’s why their self-tilted first album was such a smash hit, why it became a staple of rock playlists and radio stations across the world. Every single song, from start to finish, is excellent
, and that’s because Boston
finds that perfect balance between easy-listening and intricacy, and that’s
because of how unbelievably good each band member was at their discrete, individual crafts. For proof of this, look no further than the famous opener, “More Than A Feeling”. The slick, melodious acoustic guitar, the complicated bass runs, the exceptionally tight drumming, Brad Delp’s soaring tenor voice – everything works
, which gives the album a structure and backbone not seen in many other rock bands, and it was from this foundation that the album’s best moments spring. Tom Scholz was a tremendously smart lyricist and writer. It can be argued that music describes what goes on in someone’s head in ways that words can’t. No amount of words could communicate wanderlust and yearning as simply and powerfully as “Hitch A Ride” does.
“Gonna hitch a ride, head for the other side
Leave it all behind, never change my mind
Gonna sail away, sun light’s another day
Freedom on my mind
Carry me away for the last time”
All eight of the tunes on Boston
are just plain excellent examples of songwriting. “Peace of Mind” is huge, a rousing rock number with soaring melodies and counter-melodies and some wicked guitar work via Tom Scholz. “Smokin’” manages to perfectly transition from its introduction, a major-key butt rock tune into its stunning, mystifying, keyboard-driven midsection like it isn’t even sh*t
. The prog-rock instrumental “Foreplay” features some more wicked keyboard and guitar interplay, which gradually builds up into an incredible wall of sound and instrumentation before transitioning perfectly into the soulful, rousing “Long Time”. Even the simpler-sounding songs, like the anthemic “Rock and Roll Band” or “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” have some truly amazing musicianship put into it, in particular the latter, which has one of the best buildups on the entire album towards the end. “Hitch A Ride” features some of the greatest guitar work on the entire album, with a progressive electric guitar solo finishing off a beautiful acoustic-driven ballad. Brad Delp’s vocals, especially on the theatrical “Something About You”, were at their peak here – he had perfect control, stamina, and sang effortlessly. His tendency to lead towards very detailed vocal melodies and high notes started here, and are especially prevalent in songs like “Peace of Mind” or “Something About You”.
Boston could hardly have gotten off to a better start – of course, the very reason they happened at all is because
they got off to such a strong start. Even if they never quite matched the ambition, skill, and passion that went into this project, the commercial and critical glory this debut received was enough to outdistance Boston from the rest of the crowd and prove their talent to the rest of the world. Every so often, good things are rewarded for being good, and this slick little album deserved every penny and accolade it got.