This is a no-brainer. It’s one of the greatest all-around rock albums of the 1970’s. It sold nearly 17 million copies in nearly 35 years. It spawned three rock anthems – “More Than A Feeling,” “Peace of Mind” and “Long Time,” as well as other radio hits like “Smokin'” and “Hitch a Ride” and “Rock and Roll Band.” The full running time? Less than 40 minutes. But those 40 minutes are an absolute joy to hear.
What you had with Boston was different than any other rock band of its time. For example, take a listen to “More Than A Feeling,” as performed live by the original Boston lineup in a 1979 concert.
Listen to the influences in this song. You can hear the chord progressions that echo the James Gang’s “Tend My Garden.” The bridge to the refrain borrows liberally from the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” and the lead guitarist threw in a few licks of the Tornadoes’ “Telstar” in a guitar solo. And Brad Delp, the lead singer, is hitting high notes usually reserved for Frankie Valli, for Robert Plant, for Annie Haslam.
The partnership between guitar wizard Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp, along with guitarist Barry Goudreau, bass player Fran Sheehan and drummer Sib Hashian, spent months in Scholz’ basement studio recording the demo tapes that, with some minor tweaks, became the debut album. Every track on that LP is a radio hit. Every single one. There isn’t a bum track on the whole LP.
When I started writing for Goldmine magazine in the mid-1990’s, I always wanted one of my articles to appear on the magazine’s cover. But that was always reserved way in advance, and you needed to have a big article with a big, collectible musical artist or group, to snag the cover.
I had already established my writing cred with Goldmine – in the past year, articles about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Earth Wind & Fire and the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab all graced the magazine’s pages. It was time to go for broke.
Greg Loescher, the editor of Goldmine at the time, liked my idea of an article on the band Boston. The group would be touring later that year, so the timing would work out well.
Time to start digging. Eventually I was able to connect with Boston’s management team, who put me in touch with Boston lead singer Brad Delp. I expected to talk to Brad for about 20 minutes. We talked for a good two hours. He answered every question with a smile and an anecdote, he made me feel completely at ease. I knew this was going to be a great article once I had a chance to review the interview tapes.
I then spoke with Boston creator and inventor Tom Scholz. I expected to speak to him for 20 minutes. He spoke for five, as he was in the middle of many things at the time. But in those five minutes, I was able to glean some insight into the creation of the debut LP – how it took seven years of home studio recordings and experimentations BEFORE the group even had a record deal in place. And that Tom Scholz was such a perfectionist in the studio, it might take months – sometimes years – for a track to go from a conceptual thought to a completed recording.
When the article came out, I was happy. My first cover story for Goldmine, a full-length article on one of my favorite bands.
A few years later, I was in Somerville, Mass., and at the time Brad Delp’s side project, a Beatles tribute band called Beatle Juice, as performing at a local club. It was an absolutely fun time, and Brad and I talked for a while after the show.
Sadly, Brad Delp is no longer with us. In March of 2007, one of the nicest people in the music industry passed away. But his musical legacy continues, as well as the songwriting and wizardry of Tom Scholz and Boston.
And every time I listen to that debut album, it takes away all my troubles and makes me feel so good inside.
Chuck, I love Boston, it was one of the great bands of my youth. To be accurate, however, Delp committed suicide. Another rock n roll casulaity.
I know Delp died from self-inflicted carbon monoxide inhalation. I just still can’t bring myself to acknowledge that he killed himself. It just hurts too much to say that, if you know what I mean.
Sib Hashian had one of the best white-man afros ever!
I do understand Chuck. Whatever happened to Brad, his vocals on that first Boston album will be what people remember about him, and the fantastic part of our teen years he was a part of. Not too many artists can claim that. RIP Brad, we still love you brother.
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