In hindsight, Boston’s second album ‘Don’t Look Back’ definitely did not suffer at the box office because of the dreaded ‘second album syndrome’, a super effort and a 1978 highlight for this writer.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Don’t Look Back
SERIAL: FE 35050
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Brad Delp – vocals, guitars * Tom Scholz – guitars, organ, vocals * Barry Goudreau – guitars, vocals * Fran Sheehan – bass, vocals * Sib Hashian – drums, vocals
<TRACK LISTING: 01 Don’t Look Back * 02 The Journey * 03 It’s Easy * 04 A Man I’ll Never Be * 05 Feelin’ Satisfied * 06 Party * 07 Used To Bad News * 08 Don’t Be Afraid
WEBLINKS: Site Link
During the years of late 1976 and all of 1977, I lived in a world dominated by the music of Boston. Being a musically inclined teenager, I completely skipped over the disco-era and headed for new territory with Boston leading the way. My record collection was just starting to take off, with the likes of many yesteryear favourites being added to the collection on a weekly basis.
AOR, still in its infancy at least had a figurehead with this band the leading light, with their popularity on the rise and sales of their 1976 debut going through the roof. ‘More Than A Feeling’ had dominated singles charts for an extended period while their rise to fame would precede them. How the heck could this band expect to follow up ‘Boston’ with another? The answer is they couldn’t, and quite rightly so, as that debut was and always will be a genre-defining album.
Epic Records keen to capitalise on the huge success, wanted a follow-up in a shorter duration of time, something that did not sit comfortably with Tom Scholz. And as we saw with later releases, the two-year wait for ‘Don’t Look Back’ was a mere blip on the timeline by comparison. Scholz’ reasoning was that the quality would be compromised with a ‘rushed job’.
As it turned out his dedication to detail would ensure that no such compromise would be made (despite his own personal feelings on the matter to the contrary). Any other mortal would’ve failed miserably. In hindsight, ‘Don’t Look Back’ definitely did not suffer at the box office because of the dreaded ‘second album syndrome’.
As 1978 wound along, I was one very happy camper with Van Halen, Styx, Rush, Foreigner, Blue Oyster Cult, Toto, the revamped Journey, and Boston all receiving regular airplay, much to the chagrin of my tolerant parents. What a year indeed!
Many similarities can be found with ‘Don’t Look Back’ and the debut from two years previous. Massive walls of guitars, vocal harmonies that would put the Tabernacle Choir to shame, plus a production job that had the Engineers of the day wondering how Scholz did it all!
The title track has the same qualities as ‘More Than A Feeling’ and was one of three big hits off the album. The ethereal instrumental ‘The Journey’ segues straight into the action-packed ‘It’s Easy’, feedbacked guitars laying the foundation for a fun-filled frolic.
The big-ballad ‘A Man I’ll Never Be’ sees the band expand their horizons, perhaps the only track which is not so representative of their debut. A fantastic tune which breathes melancholy and emotion all the way through.
Side two is more straight-forward, an aspect that bears similarity to the debut yet again, but take nothing away – there are some enjoyable tunes here too. ‘Feelin’ Satisfied’ features more superb layered guitar from Scholz and Goudreau, while the fluid bass lines of Fran Sheehan are a standout! ‘Party’ could be ‘Smokin’ Part Two, such is the infectious (dare I say it) party-like vibe coming through.
Another favourite track for me is the acoustic/electric ‘Used To Bad News’, the organ lines are prominent, including a brief but tremendous cameo toward the end. The album ends with the chug-a-lug hard rock of ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, with more vocal harmonies, twin guitars and Brad Delp serving up a bluesy sweaty brew to end the show.
‘Don’t Look Back’ is still a favourite album of mine and I enjoy dragging it out of the collection. The cover-jacket and overall concept of the spaceship guitar is expanded even further with this album (something that you were vaguely aware of on the debut’s album-cover), the original LP version making for some stunning artwork.
The ‘city inside the flying guitar’ surely made for interesting viewing among my friends and classmates from high school at the time. This was the last of the Boston albums for Epic. Scholz becoming a recluse for a few years before finally returning in 1986 with a new band line-up and the hit album ‘Third Stage’. The journey continues.
Don’t Look Back
A Man I’ll Never Be
Entire Album (Select Tracks)