By Gina Vivinetto
St. Petersburg Times

With new songs and new blood, these are exciting times for the classic band Boston.

Fans of classic rock band Boston know not to hold their breath between albums. Fronted by studio wizard, MIT graduate and notorious perfectionist Tom Scholz, Boston debuted in 1976 with its self-titled masterpiece featuring the monster hits - and staples of classic rock radio - More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind and Long Time.

Most tracks on Boston were meticulously recorded by Scholz at home in his basement studio and merely gussied up by the group's record label, Epic, for their national release.

Two years later, Scholz was still working on the tapes of the band's followup, Don't Look Back. The label was fed up with waiting for Scholz to get the sound he wanted - stories abound of Scholz recording drum beats hundreds of times - and forced him to release the album. Fans were thrilled; Don't Look Back sold like hotcakes and produced more hits.

Scholz, on the other hand, was livid and vowed to never again release an album before he was ready.

Scholz kept his word. The world didn't hear again from Boston until 1986 with the release of Third Stage. The musical climate had changed, but Boston's sound had not. MTV was all the rage, and young people were falling in love with hip-hop and freaky new fashions. Yet Boston scored another No. 1 hit with Amanda.

"And without a video!' says Brad Delp, the band's lead singer, by telephone from his home in south New Hampshire. "Imagine if we had done one."

Unbelievably, in its nearly 30-year career, Boston has never filmed a video, with the exception of some live pre-MTV era promotional footage.

Delp says that there are advantages to that. For one, he can carry on with his ordinary life in his small town (population less than 5,000) without being recognized as a rock singer.

"In the supermarkets, they don't know me from anybody else," Delp says.

Exploring the terrain of video also would only further encumber Scholz, he says.

"He's so meticulous," Delp says. "He would never allow lip-synching or acting or anything like that. He would feel that was cheating."

Delp enjoys the laid-back role he plays in Boston.

"I just sing," he says. "Tom does everything. He knows what he wants. He really is quite the perfectionist. I'm comfortable playing hooky. He just calls me when he wants me. But Tom has the ideas. Boston is his thing. The signature guitar sound, the layers of guitar, he gets credit for that. The way he records the vocals, all the voices, it's all his ideas."

Yes, but Delp's distinctive voice is what fans adore.

Boston's fourth album, 1994's Walk On, didn't feature Delp as its vocalist. Is it a coincidence that it's the band's only bomb?

Delp laughs.

"A lot of people used to think we had a girl in the band," Delp says of his "pretty" voice. "But nope, that was just me."

For the record, Boston does now feature a woman, bass player Kimberly Daume, who shares vocal duty with Delp. There's also another guitarist, Anthony Cosmo, 28, son of guitarist Fran Cosmo.

Delp enjoys having new blood in Boston and says that it helps morph the sound into something new. Delp also is excited about the band's most recent album, 2002's Corporate America, which has political and social themes.

"These are Tom's most political songs to date and, I think, his most important," Delp says. "He has a lot to say right now about what's going on. It's a really exciting time for the band."

PREVIEW: Boston performs 8 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $30.50-$43.50. (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.