( 1976 )
More Than A Feeling / Peace Of Mind / Foreplay-Long Time / Rock & Roll Band / Smokin' / Hitch A Ride / Something About You / Let Me Take You Home Tonight
Boston, you will be entirely unsurprised to know are an American rock band from Boston. I'm still waiting for a rock band called Warrington, but what can you do? Boston formed around guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter and producer Tom Scholtz. Their début album 'Boston' has managed to sell a whopping 17 million copies in the US alone. 'Boston' when released in 1976 managed to combine Progressive Rock elements along with Hard Rock - and all with a heavy dose of popular melodies. Keyboards for instance intone in an occasionally progressive way, the guitar harmonics remind this listener of Queen. There's a thing, we had Queen over here in England and we'd had Glam rock and ELO. America had Alice Cooper, Kiss and The Eagles and Canada produced rock band Rush - and wouldn't it be great if you could combine all these things?
Singer Brad Delp helped Tom Scholtz in ensuring Boston had a then distinctive sound, soaring and wailing vocals together with Tom Scholtz wanting to do certain things, break production boundaries and make music that sounded great both in the studio and coming out of FM Radios. Such a combination ensured that Boston tore up both the album and singles charts in 1976 at a time when there was some segregation between popular singles acts and popular album acts. Well, a bunch of other names could be mentioned, but Boston, even using an inventive and guitar led line-up put more of a pop polish on what is often termed 'Arena Rock'. If this introduction by the way sounds somewhat confused, it will be. As a resident of the United Kingdom slap bang in the middle of England, back in 1976 I'm told that Boston's début album only peaked at number eleven on our album charts - it became something of a hit in Germany for some reason, yet most of Europe and the rest of the world proved resistant at some fundamental level to the charms of 'Boston'. In America of course, 'More Than A Feeling' and 'Peace Of Mind' and all seemed exactly what commercial radio had cried out for.
'More Than A Feeling' then, a song so seemingly euphoric that despite that fact it never charted higher than number twenty-two in the UK has grown in popularity since that time on Classic Rock compilations, TV advertisements and the like. So, this song that was never a radio staple of any description in the UK and probably has fragments (eg, the chorus and the first verse) that I've heard over and over - there are portions of the song that are relatively new to me. What's that called, the middle-eight I suppose? We have a richly harmonic guitar solo to see us home and plough us forwards towards the next chorus and so on and an impressively executed guitar solo to close. Ah, silly me! This is the album version and not the single edit. That's why it seems a bit new in places to me. You can tell, I don't like to flawlessly (or sometimes at all) research facts and figures beyond what's required to attempt to keep up a fresh philosophy on things. Either that, or I'm talking rubbish. Would Boston have ultimately fared better in the long run for instance if 'More Than A Feeling' kicked off their second album, rather than their first? All conjecture, of course.
A lot of the début album by Boston I can take or leave - there are impressive moments and at times, you feeling that they were intensely bright and clever at working in elements of many popular sounds of the seventies. 'Peace Of Mind' for instance - a perfect follow-up to 'More Than A Feeling' in a way, but edges to rockier realms and hence wasn't quite such a big hit. 'Smokin' which opens the, you suspect, lesser listened side of the album chugs a-long nicely but only really shines during the keyboard/organ solo during the vamp instrumental section of the song. 'Foreplay-Longplay' meanwhile to me is the highlight of the eight songs contained on the record - it shows that Boston were listening to a variety of musical styles, I like the progressive elements of the songs introduction. - Tom Scholtz, ah, that musical chameleon that he could and should have been more than he was! Naturally 'Longplay' as opposed to 'Foreplay' is merely a very solid, superbly produced and played rock song - plenty of elements to the composition that seem oh so familiar yet, technician that he was Tom Scholtz has stitched them together so seamlessly.
People talk the début Boston album either being massively influential, or strangely, not influential at all - I think perhaps you had to be there to properly judge. All I can say is 'Something About You' makes me wish that Tom Scholtz had produced Thin Lizzy at some point during their recording careers.