As the history books show, the debut Boston album went on to sell millions (it is currently certified as 16X Platinum!!), as did the follow up ‘Don’t Look Back’ two years later in 1978, their place in AOR fandom is assured and without question.
Written by: gdmonline
SERIAL: PE 34188
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Tom Scholz – guitars, organ * Brad Delp – vocals, guitars * Barry Goudreau – guitars * Fran Sheehan – bass * Sib Hashian – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 More Than A Feeling * 02 Peace Of Mind * 03 Foreplay/Long Time * 04 Rock And Roll Band * 05 Smokin’ * 06 Hitch A Ride * 07 Something About You * 08 Let Me Take You Home Tonight
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Well, I would hazard a guess and say that the defining moment for the AOR movement and thereafter, lay at the feet of this 1976 recording by the then unknown local area band from Massachusetts; the aptly named Boston.
From seemingly inoculous beginnings, a legacy that is still in place nearly a quarter of a century later (ably represented by this website and a few others!), continues to run its course, from which many of yesterdays and todays acts owe their heritage to this genre-defining band.
Delving into their pre-history is a bit of a waste of time for readers of this site: many of whom are absolute train-spotters when it comes to all things AOR. You’ll know all about these guys from your days of sitting AOR 101 at the altar of your stereo. What I will do though, is explain what this album means to me and so many others of my (and future) generations.
What you heard on this album was something that had not been heard anywhere before. Remember it was mid to late 1976. I was just about to start high-school! Back then, some bands had the harmonies, some had the guitar power, but none had the ‘formula’ to bring it all come together. In effect, that is what AOR is all about. The infusing of all the separate elements to make up the whole. The sum of all the parts.
The fact that musicianship was a major drawcard with this band, was evident on the final record. However, the glue that held it all together was technology genius Tom Scholz. Many hours in the cutting room saw the final album as best as he could make it, and as history will go on to record, this whole aspect of perfectionism for Scholz was a double-edged sword.
Side One is perhaps AOR’s crowning moment. Three songs which still hold their own many years later. Compare Boston’s music to modern day stuff and you have to wonder whether 21st century music has gone backwards!!
‘More Than A Feeling’ – What hasn’t been written about? A monstrous song, massive massive hit, and when one tries to describe the term AOR to a novice, all they have to do is mention this song, and perhaps Foreigner‘s ‘Jukebox Hero’, Survivor‘s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ and Toto‘s ‘Hold The Line’ to give some aural proof. Surely that will be enough?
The mix of acoustic and electric guitar is spellbinding, the choruses are magic, there are huge solos, even bigger are the massive walls of guitar feedback and of course there’s Brad Delp’s ‘off-the-planet’ vocal crescendo toward the end. All this on a song which went number one just about everywhere on the planet – even good old New Zealand!
‘Peace Of Mind’ – was initially the ‘B’ side on the Epic 45′ single for ‘More Than A Feeling’. It was another hugely popular tune, with twin guitars blazing, big choruses yet again, and Delp’s soaring vocal.
‘Foreplay/Long Time’ – For me the piece de resistance of the album. At nearly 8 minutes, the song had to be cut down substantially for airplay, but most radio stations carried the song as it was recorded, in much the same way as Pink Floyd defined ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ as did Iron Butterfly with ‘Inna Gadda Da Vida’. Glorious organ work leads off, leading into sparse verses and razor sharp guitar lines. Even the hand-claps at the end set off a trend.
‘Rock And Roll Band’ – a high energy workout with audience participation included within. A tune which captures the intensity of the band in the live setting.
‘Smokin’ – another high energy tune, with a great change-up piece through the middle with the organ play of Scholz coming to the fore. A great blues oriented tune given a Bostonized upheaval!
‘Hitch A Ride’ – another fave tune of mine is this one. The guitar solos here are shared, and are sensational. The acoustic lead-up doesn’t let the cat out of the bag until quite late. Just as you think the song will tail off after an organ induced flurry of ivories, the guitar solos kick in and send this one over the edge – right to the end in fact. Fantastic stuff.
‘Something About You’ – an intense rocker which was more of a sweet, short and dirty work-out.
‘Let Me Take You Home Tonight’ – perhaps the track which stands out most for being stylistically different. Taking elements of The Raspberries (the pop aspects), the band take an organic approach, and leave the over-produced glossy guitarwork in the closet for once. The ramped-up ending reminds me so much of those early 70’s days of Messrs Carmen and Bryson, particularly their fantastic ‘Side III’ album from 1973.
As the history books show, this album went on to sell millions (it is currently certified as 16X Platinum!!), as did the follow up ‘Don’t Look Back’ two years later in 1978. Their place in AOR fandom is assured and without question. I suppose the major concern with Boston, or more particularly Scholz, (these have been well recognised over time by the way!), is the ‘perfectionist’ stance taken to get his recordings right.
The fact that ‘Third Stage’ took eight years to materialise after ‘Don’t Look Back’, as did ‘Walk On’ (funnily enough so did 2002’s ‘Corporate America’), suggests that ‘eight’ is indeed a magic number, or that one album a decade was sufficient. Protracted legal battles have dogged Scholz even to this day, no doubt a result of his engineering dithering. All I can say is that despite the genre-setting trend that may have been set, and the fact that Boston was catapulted to stardom, the long-term success for everyone in the band was not guaranteed.
I suppose the ultimate form of lampoon or parody, is that ‘More Than A Feeling’ is the most played song on Classic Rock radio, and now even gets filtered through shopping malls and elevators in some MIDI’fied alternative fashion. Oh how we translate past success of this once great band into todays use ’em and consume ’em society. Everything about this album led me onto the path that became AOR. It has been a lifelong journey right up till this day, and one I will carry the flame far into the future. That there is no doubt.
More Than A Feeling
Entire Album (Select Tracks)