Boston's Debut Album - Still Rocking after 25 Years
Incredible debut album - not a bad track on the disc.
Some songs may sound a little dated.
The Bottom Line:
Called the greatest debut album of all time - and with good reason.
Back in my day, when I would have to trudge through 2 feet of snow for 14 miles just to get to school, there weren't literally thousands of musical artists all vying for a piece of your hard-earned money with their so-called musical talents. No, in my day - or just slightly before my day - when a new artist hit the scene, they had to have something special to capture the attention of the general public. Back then, real talent and musical abilities had to be tangible, not so much fluff like it is today.
And maybe, just maybe, if you put together something special, it might sell. In 1976, a small-time band from Boston, appropriately named Boston decided to come out with a rock and roll album, titled...you guessed it...Boston.
Note: So as not to confuse you, when I refer to Boston - the band, I'll reflect it in italics - Boston. When I refer to Boston - the album, I'll reflect it in bold - Boston. You believe how many times I type the word 'Boston' in this review. :)
This little old album, with a (then) cool picture of a flaming, flying saucer literally took off. Boston was an over-night success, and with good reason. Considered one of the most popular debut albums of all time, this 5-man band put together an album that, after 25 years, is still selling relatively strong. 16 million copies sold at last count - something few artists can mimic.
But why? What was it about Boston (the album) that made it such a stellar hit? How could 8 (9) songs generate such a frenzy? Well, everyone has their own opinions, and now you're going to be treated to my own. But first, a very short bio about the band.
Boston is made up of the following 5 members:
Brad Delp (Lead Vocals, Lyricist)
Tom Scholz (Guitar & Synthesizer, Main Lyricist)
Barry Goudreau (Guitar)
Fran Sheenan (Bass)
Sib Hassian (Drums)
Under this arrangement, Boston released only 2 albums - Boston in 1976 and Don't Look Back in 1978. Under a contractual agreement to release at least one more album, some of the original members of Boston came back in 1986 with the release of Third Stage. Finally, and rather quietly, Boston released what most consider to be their final album in 1994 called Walk On. At that point, only one remaining original member of Boston was involved in the production of the album - Tom Scholz.
Two 'Greatest Hits' albums were also released but contained no new material.
Despite having only released 3 major albums, Boston is still considered one of the most popular bands ever.
So, now that you have a little background information on Boston, let's take a look at their phenomenal debut album - Boston.
1. More Than a Feeling
One of the trademarks of Boston is two-fold; First, Brad Delp's incredibly sopranic vocals and Tom Scholz's fantastic guitar work. More Than a Feeling, which was the band's first hit, showcases both of these talents as they merge perfectly together throughout the song - making them practically indistinguishable from one another at times. Yes, Delp can really hit those high notes. The song itself is a nice reflection on looking back to times past, recalling old friends, old times, old girlfriends. Decent, if not deep, lyrics highlight just about every Boston (album) song.
"So many people have come and gone.
Their faces fade as the years go by.
Yet I still recall as I wander on.
as clear as the sun in the summer sky..."
2. Peace Of Mind
Track #2 picks the pace up a bit with some faster paced vocals and guitar work. The song has deeper lyrics revealing the decisions of life we all have to make and all can relate to. Once again, Delp's vocals range in the stratosphere, but they're never annoying or nerve-grating. Track #2 becomes Hit #2 for the band.
"Now everybody's got advice they just keep on givin'
Doesn't mean too much to me
Lot's of people out to make-believe they're livin'
Can't decide who they should be..."
3. Foreplay / Long Time
Actually two songs, the first being Foreplay which is an instrumental which nicely showcases this band's musical abilities and then leads into the second song, Long Time, a slightly slower paced tune which has some superb guitar work and contains one of Boston's most memorable chorus lines. A great one-two combination that, you guessed it, became the band's third bona fide hit.
"Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' on
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I take what I find, I don't want no more
It's just outside of your front door..."
4. Rock & Roll Band
This song is essentially a mini-biography of the band. A nice story-telling song that plays and sounds great, but is make even better by the fascinating lyrics that seem to actually foretell the future of the band on the verge of mega-stardom. Once again, a great combination of vocals and guitar work that perfectly showcase the lyrics.
"Well, we were just another band out of Boston
On the road to try to make ends meet
Playin' all the bars, sleepin' in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street
No, we didn't have much money
We barely made enough to survive
But when we got up on stage and got ready to play
People came alive..."
This is perhaps the album's tightest and most aggressive song. Smokin' delivers some more biography-like lyrics about the band performing for an audience, but it's the laser-tight guitar work accompanied by the lead and back-up vocals that really highlights this song. This one's my personal favorite - especially the intense guitar solo.
6. Hitch A Ride
The pace, once again, is stepped down a little bit to almost a ballad-like speed. Hitch A Ride is an interesting and poignant song that highlights Delp's vocal abilities, showing that not only can he belt out songs at high volumes and intensity, but he can also sing with feeling and grace. A great song with a-typical poetic like lyrics. Without a doubt, another hit song.
"Life is like the coldest winter
People freeze the tears I cry
Words of hail their minds are into
I've got to crack this ice and fly..."
7. Something About You
Back to a song about love and relationships, Something About You is a typical Boston song with some interesting dueling vocalizations. Almost conversation-like, this track became another instant hit for the band.
"But there was something about you
I want you to know
It brought a change over me
It's startin' to show
I got this feelin' inside, gotta have you, have you
Ain't no good to hide..."
8. Let Me Take You Home Tonight
The final track on this incredible debut album starts off on a very slow, ballad like pace but then builds as it progresses. It never gets to the point or speed of some of the other songs on this album, but the interesting time changes makes it enjoyable to listen to and experience. The lyrics are decisively 70's which has dated this song, but the overall message is still viable today. The 8th track, the 8th hit.
"Now I'm not like this, I'm really kind of shy
But I get this feeling whenever you walk by
I don't wanna down you, I wanna make you high
If you you could see your way to me, come on and let me try.
Let me take you home tonight
Mamma now it's alright
Let me take you home tonight
I'll show you sweet delight..."
And there you have it. Boston's debut album with 8 (9) songs that all became hits in their own rights. 25 years later, and you'll still hear Boston being playing on radio stations across America. They've become a Rock & Roll institution since the release of Boston. The question at that time was, could they repeat their stellar performance on Album #2? You'll find out soon when I post the second in my series of Boston-related reviews.
And now for a bit of useless information. The number of times I typed 'Boston' in this review, including that last one: 29.
Thanks, as always, for reading.