CD Reviews

Boston - 'Life, Love & Hope' Hot

Added by James Gaden     January 06, 2014    
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An improvement in songwriting but let down by poor production.

The collaboration between singer Brad Delp and enigmatic multi-instrumentalist Tom Scholz pretty much invented an entire genre when they released their debut album as Boston in 1976, its runaway success sparking a stylistic rethink in other artists like Journey and REO Speedwagon. ‘Don’t Look Back’ in 1978 was a strong, if patchy follow-up, but legal hassles with CBS and former band members halted progress of future albums, with both ‘Third Stage’ and ‘Walk On’ taking an age to complete and failing to match the consistency or sales of what had gone before. The ‘Corporate America’ record in 2002 showed the band as a pale shadow of their former selves, languishing on an independent label with multiple vocalists and lacking in both the songwriting and production departments. With another eleven years passing in the stop-start world of Mr Scholz, and Brad Delp now sadly no longer with us, expectations were low, even from those of us who still retain a special affinity with the band due to the life-changing nature of their debut. It’s my sad duty to report that although the songwriting is much better, the production doesn’t do the record any favours at all.

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With a good vocal from Boston fan turned frontman Tommy DeCarlo, ‘Heaven And Earth’ is a real throwback to the glory days with all the requisite layered guitars, keys and vocals, whilst the piano-led instrumental ‘Last Day At School’ has some nice ideas, but what should have been grandiose and overblown just sounds tinny and hollow with some weak programmed drums and a muddy mix. Similarly, ‘Sail Away’ and ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ are good tunes with original singer Delp adding his unique touch, but both lack punch and clarity, whilst the title-track is probably the best of the lot and would have been a killer if saddled with the state-of-the-art sound of the debut. ‘If You Were In Love’ and ‘Love Got Away’ are just too bland and soppy, the former sung by former bassist Kimberley Dahme and the latter by Scholz himself, and of the three ‘Corporate America’ tracks that reappear, ‘Someone (2.0)’ and ‘You Gave Up On Love (2.0)’ have better arrangements, if not sonics, and ‘Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love’ is a pointless remaster of the same recording.

As a fully paid-up member of the Boston fan club for their first three or four albums, it really pains me to see Scholz continue to lead the band on a downward spiral. It’s unlikely that their leader will ever deign to work with an outside producer or mixer, but I can’t see things improving unless he does.

Phil Ashcroft

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Franco Cerchiari said:

This was pretty poor overall, but at least it is a step up from the awful Corporate America.
January 10, 2014
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