MusicTap: "Boston" and "Don't Look Back" Reviews

MusicTap

Boston, the baby of MIT grad whiz, Tom Scholz, defied the odds of acquiring a label contract and ascending into the stratosphere of Billboard charts and radio play, by making their debut album, the self-titled Boston, the way that he wanted.  Largely created in his basement, the unlikely demo, holding six of album’s eight tunes, went on to shatter beliefs and sell more than 17 million units.
 
When the album was released, the single, “More than a Feeling,” with its melodic opening guitar intro and high soaring vocals by bandmate, Brad Delp, helped to lift it further than it might have otherwise gone, with explosive charting action.  It was followed by “Long Time” and finally by “Peace of Mind,” both of which didn’t see the Top 10 action of the first single but did well regardless.  The album went on to hang around in the front sections of store bins for an incredible 132 weeks, partially bolstered by the anticipated release of the band’s second album, the 1978 issue of Don’t Look Back.

Don’t Look Back was released two years later, highly anticipated by a world of new Boston fans and shipped platinum with 1,000,000 units spoken for before the actual issue.  It found itself at #1, staying on the Billboard charts and in the public’s consciousness for 45 weeks.  Like Boston’s first album, Don’t Look Back with its continuing cover theme of a spaceship, spawned three singles.  The first song, “Don’t Look Back” performed better than “More Than a Feeling” on the charts, reaching #4 at its peak.  It was followed by “A Man I’ll Never Be,” and “Feelin’ Satisfied.”

But Boston’s song success exceeded even that of their charting numbers.  Not only did the songs mentioned achieve a permanence, thereby cementing them historically and for all time, several of the non-charting songs became FM staples, playing in a surprising rotation that did everything to help bring Boston’s first album to a certified 17 times platinum status and their second to 7 times platinum.  Songs like “Smokin’” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” from their first and “Party” from their second.  In essence, Boston catered to several audiences, the Top 40-resistant FM crowd and, of course, the singles buying masses.

Legacy decision to re-release these classics led to the involvement of Tom Scholz, the band’s innovative and workaholic leader, who, himself remastered the original masters to achieve the albums’ musically pristine state using today’s superior technologies and equipment.  The beginning of “More Than a Feeling” sums up the audio found on the rest of album as well as the subsequent album, Don’t Look Back.  The guitar lead-in is clear and defined, leading to the sound of the drums as they introduce themselves to the song, Delp’s crystal clear vocals from the soft tones to the high reaches, the guitars as they blend, from lead to chords, to start the song in earnest, the clarity of the handclaps, and the chorus, all heard to perfection…from basement tapes.  All of this is heard within the first minute of the song and lets you in on the expected – and achieved – superior sound quality of this epochal debut.

The two albums are placed in digipaks, with the discs sitting in trays that are part of a collection of photos, with most found in the booklets.  Each booklet contains essays with containing a David Wild essay spread over three pages.  The rest of the two 12-page booklets are filled with photos and credits.  These Limited Edition Collector packages are for fans, no doubt.

Boston typified the seemingly impossible reach for something good and something believed in, bucking the odds against failure and succeeding beyond that belief.  Not only is the music of Boston the stuff of legend but also it is memorable.  It stands as a watermark for the arena rock of the late ‘70s, sharing the stage with bands like Van Halen and other legendary bands.
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