KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – BOSTON “BOSTON”

In the history of recorded music there aren’t many albums where every song has received significant airplay. From Frank Sinatra to The Beatles to Fleetwood Mac to Michael Jackson and beyond, even the biggest sellers with multiple chart-topping singles had some tracks that never hit the airwaves. Off the top of my follically-challenged head, only Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut can boast that all eight of its songs were pop &/or rock radio staples through the ’70s & ’80s, and most of them are still well-known by subsequent generations who continue to discover this amazing album. Although presented as the work of a quintet of musicians, it’s essentially a home-studio recording by all-around technological whiz/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Tom Scholz and the vocal brilliance of Brad Delp. Two of the musicians who would become part of the group, guitarist Barry Goudreau and bassist Fran Sheehan, only appear sporadically, while drummer Sib Hashian contributes to all but one song. I love the two subsequent Boston albums, including 1986’s Third Stage (which I covered as part of my Thirty-Year Thursday series in 2016), but nothing quite compares to their initial offering. Also, how cool is that album cover?

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 1:

Even more than their fellow New Englanders The Cars, Boston’s debut album might be the closest any artist has ever come to releasing a “greatest hits” at the start of their career. Sure, they had other successful singles and albums, but there was no way they were ever going to top this record, which pretty much came to define AOR (album-oriented rock). The combination of Tom Scholz’s songwriting & one-of-a-kind guitar sound and Brad Delp’s seemingly limitless vocal range made them the perfect band for both AM and FM radio in the ‘70s. All eight tracks have received airplay over the years, with “More Than A Feeling,” “Peace Of Mind” and “Foreplay/Long Time” the most recognizable thanks to classic rock stations. Those three took up Side A, and the consistency of the remaining tracks on the flip side set Boston apart from anything else released at the time: “Rock And Roll Band,” “Smokin’,” “Hitch A Ride,” “Something About You” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” are all cut from the same cloth but each has its own distinct charms.

 

So who agrees that this is not only a great debut album but also one of the best all-around records ever released? And can anyone point to another non-compilation where every song got significant radio exposure?

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26 comments on “Satur-debut – BOSTON “BOSTON”

  1. deKE
    June 22, 2019

    Well said Rich in regards to the debut basically being a Greatest Hits album! That sums it up pretty much there! I can’t think of any debut that would come close with all the songs being played on rock radio. VH’s debut has I think about 3-4 songs that are still played but yeah Boston is the hands down winner!
    Great post!​

    Like

    • Thanks Derek. Glad you agree. Ironically when Boston actually released a Greatest Hits it only had 5 songs from this album, even though they all belonged. The first VH album is brilliant…it will appear in this series, of course…but as you pointed out, radio didn’t embrace every track. Even an album like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours didn’t get every song on the radio, and that’s one of the biggest albums of all time, so Boston’s debut is truly special.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim S.
    June 22, 2019

    I’ve been meaning to write about these guys and have yet to get to it. Yeah, great album. And as to your statement that it may be the closest thing we have to a debut greatest hits debut album, you may be right. Never thought about it that way before. Always sounds great coming across the radio.

    Like

    • Tom Scholz did an amazing job with the sound of the album (and that unique guitar sound, of course), so every song sounded amazing when they were played on the radio. Truly a unique album.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. christiansmusicmusings
    June 22, 2019

    Certainly an amazing album. Only “More Than The Feeling” makes it a great record. While Tom Scholz has certainly written some great songs, to me Boston always has been about the sound first and foremost. And when it comes to the latter, there’s no question Scholz is an absolute master of his craft. The man even invented the gear that enabled him to create his signature guitar sound.

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    • Christian, I agree that the Boston sound set them apart from their contemporaries, thanks to Scholz’s self-created guitar sound. But they also delivered the goods when it came to songwriting, and that’s why I think this record is so special. The two that followed were also great but maybe not quite as groundbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul
    June 22, 2019

    Wow takes me right back to 6th grade – this was THE soundtrack of that year for me! Agree that I can’t think of another album that every song got significant airplay. More than a Feeling kind of defines a classic rock song for me. That said I have never really considered Boston a classic rock band I guess mainly because they weren’t – there were more a Tom Scholtz studio project ( what I project it was!) but for example did they ever tour?I think the sonic brilliance of the songs which sounded great on the radio was,probably difficult to reproduce live. Maybe I’m wrong. But did these guys come up playing in clubs and hit the big time? That lack of live touring has made me always consider them a notch below other classic bands. But admittingly this may be a uninformed opinion.

    Have missed the earlier parts of this series. Looking forward to going back and checking them out,

    Like

    • Hi Paul. Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like we’re around the same age since I was either in 5th or 6th grade when Boston hit the airwaves in ’76. They did tour after the album was released and, based on footage I’ve seen & live bootlegs I’ve heard, they were really good. Delp was able to hit those notes, especially in the early years. The only thing missing were the perfect harmonies from the records, which would be impossible to reproduce considering Delp sang all the parts. In spite of that they were still excellent, both musically & vocally. You’re probably right about them not coming up playing the clubs like most great rock bands. I believe it was always a studio project. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about them will see these comments and fill us in on their gigging history prior to the debut album being released.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul
        June 23, 2019

        Thanks Rich for the additional info. Amazing to hear that Delp could hit all those notes live (or in studio for that matter!)

        Like

      • There’s footage of them on YouTube recorded at Giants Stadium in ’79 om the Don’t Look Back tour. It’s worth checking out if you’re curious how well they nailed the sound of the record in concert.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul
        June 26, 2019

        Thanks Rich! I was listening to the first Boston album again the other day on the way to work and what do you know 2 songs in I’m doing some mean air drumming sitting at the traffic light! I think my favorite on the album is Peace of Mind. Thanks for the You Tube recs – yes looks like they did pretty well at recreating the album. I actually found another video, which is actually just the audio for a concert from a March 16,1977 performance from Long Beach CA where the audio quality is much better than the Giant Stadium shows – and it almost sounds like the album, including Delp’s vocals. So I take back my previous comments. I also found some video footage of a concert of theirs from 2017, with both male and female lead singers, so more power to them that they are still out there performing (at least as of 2 years ago)

        Like

      • I’m glad you checked out the Giants Stadium footage and enjoyed it. I will seek out the audio show from ’77. I spend a lot of time walking my cat outside (yep, you read that right…I walk my cat on a leash) and I typically pass the time by watching/listening to live shows on YouTube. Recently I watched a Boston show from the Third Stage tour, and I’ve also seen footage of more recent shows, but I haven’t had any interest in Boston performances without the late, great Brad Delp. Like you, I’m glad they’re still out there delivering their classic music to a new generation (and us old-timers).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul
        June 27, 2019

        Impressive feat walking a cat 😀. In case interested here is link to Long Beach show I mentioned

        Like

      • I found the clip after I sent my earlier reply and it’s already on my Watch Later list. Thanks.

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      • Paul
        June 27, 2019

        Sounds good. Like I said sound quality is great!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill
        July 1, 2019

        Late to the party on this one so probably no one will see this comment as part of the conversation but I seem to remember when Brad Delp died that he was lauded for being able to duplicate EXACTLY his vocal parts in the studio. His pitch control was that good far in time beyond the 79 Giants show referenced. He would just double and quadruple his vocal parts and they would be near perfect (in a time long before ProTools)!

        Like

      • Not late at all, as I just posted this last week. It’s true that Delp was an incredible vocalist. I’ve listened to several live recordings from throughout their career and he didn’t always nail every note…who could?…but his voice was such perfection on record that he could never hope to duplicate those performances in concert. Imagine trying to hit those high notes every night, then 10-20 years later you’re trying to keep pace with your younger self. Not an easy task. I still marvel at how Tommy Shaw not only hits all the notes but might actually sound better 30-40 years after all those classic Styx records. Paul Rodgers, who we discussed in the Bad Company post, is another one. They must really take care of their vocal cords.

        Like

  5. stephen1001
    June 23, 2019

    Nice food for thought closing question Rich – I think Thriller might have gotten close with 7 of the 9 tracks being on the radio. It will be fun to ponder if any others matched Boston’s feat!

    Like

    • Thanks, Geoff. Obviously Thriller had much more massive commercial success with all those #1 and Top 10 singles, but as you pointed out there were two songs that didn’t make it to radio. I hope someone can point out another album like Boston that had every track on the radio, but it seems like there are none.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 80smetalman
    June 23, 2019

    I agree that it is. Back in 1977, the 15/16 year old me would bounce back and forth between this album and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. However, for me, this was the standout album. It totally blew my teenage mind.

    Like

    • There were so many amazing albums back then which were top-to-bottom classics. Not sure how we found time to digest it all, but now those songs are etched in our brains forever. Some people might complain that those albums have been overplayed, but I still love hearing them 40+ years later.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 80smetalman
        June 24, 2019

        Those albums are never overplayed.

        Like

      • I’m glad you agree, but a lot of people will put down great albums because radio played certain songs a lot. I’ve never bought into that. In my opinion a great song/album will always be great. Even if I don’t feel the same excitement I used to I imagine how it sounds to a new listener and I’m reminded why it’s a classic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 80smetalman
        June 24, 2019

        My philosophy is that if I get tired of hearing a song I thought I liked, then it must not have been that good in the first place. There isn’t a song on the Boston album I’m tired of hearing.

        Like

      • We share the same philosophy. Great minds think alike.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 80smetalman
        June 24, 2019

        Yep

        Liked by 1 person

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