Boston’s Boston

Artist: Boston
Genere: Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Prog Rock
Title: Boston
Released: 1976
Label: Epic
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Brad Delp – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, Tom Scholz – electric guitars, lead guitar, acoustic guitars, clavinet, organ, bass guitar, design consultant, remastering, liner notes, production, engineering, Barry Goudreau – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, Fran Sheehan – bass guitar, Sib Hashian – drums, Jim Masdea – drums
Producer: John Boylan & Tom Scholz
Engineer: Tom Scholz & Warren Dewey
Mastering Engineer: Wally Traugott

Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, that achieved their most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists. Altogether, the band has released six studio albums.
Official website: :Tom Scholz first started writing music in 1969 while he was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he wrote an instrumental, titled “Foreplay”. While attending MIT, Scholz joined the band Freehold, where he met guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Jim Masdea, who would later become members of Boston. Vocalist Brad Delp was added to the collective in 1970. After graduating with a master’s degree, Scholz worked for Polaroid, where he used his salary to build a recording studio in his basement, and to finance demo tapes recorded in professional recording studios. These early demo tapes were recorded with (at various times) Delp on vocals, Goudreau on guitar, Masdea on drums, and Scholz on guitar, bass and keyboards. The demo tapes were sent to record companies, but received consistent rejections. In 1973 Scholz formed the band Mother’s Milk with Delp, Goudreau, and Masdea. That group disbanded by 1974, but Scholz subsequently worked with Masdea and Delp to produce six new demos, including “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, “Rock and Roll Band”, “Something About You” (then entitled “Life Isn’t Easy”), “Hitch a Ride” (then entitled “San Francisco Day”), and “Don’t Be Afraid”.  Scholz played all the instruments on the demos, except for the drums, which were played by Masdea, and used self-designed pedals to create the desired guitar sound. The violin-like sound of the guitars was created in the early 1970s by Scholz. The multitrack tapes were then brought to Los Angeles, where Delp added vocals and the album was mixed by John Boylan. It was then that the band was named “Boston”, by suggestion of Boylan and engineer Warren Dewey.

Boston’s genre is considered by most to be hard rock, while combining elements of progressive rock into their music. Boston founder, guitarist, and primary songwriter Tom Scholz’s blend of musical styles, ranging from classical to 1960s English pop, has resulted in a unique sound, most consistently realized on the first two albums (Boston and Don’t Look Back). This sound is characterized by multiple lead and blended harmonies guitar work (usually harmonized in thirds), often alternating between and then mixing electric and acoustic guitars. The band’s harmonic style has been characterized as being “violin-like” without using synthesizers. Scholz is well-regarded for the development of complex, multi-tracked guitar harmonies. Another contributing factor is the use of handmade, high tech equipment, such as the Rockman. Scholz’s production style combines deep, aggressive, comparatively short guitar riffing and nearly ethereal, generally longer note vocal harmonies. Tom Scholz also credited former singer Brad Delp with helping to create Boston’s sound with his signature vocal style. Delp, who was strongly influenced by the Beatles was well known for his extended vocal range, shown on hits such as “More Than a Feeling”.

Boston (the record reviewed here) is the debut studio album by American rock band Boston.  Epic wanted the band to record in Los Angeles with a record producer, but Scholz was unwilling and wanted to record the album in his basement studio, so he hired Boylan to run interference with the label. In an elaborate ruse, Scholz tricked the label into thinking the band was recording on the West Coast, when in reality, the bulk was being tracked solely by Scholz at his Massachusetts home. The album’s contents are a complete recreation of the band’s demo tape, and contain songs written and composed many years prior. The album’s style, often referred to as the “Boston sound”, was developed through Scholz’s love of classical music, melodic hooks and guitar-heavy rock groups such as the Kinks and the Yardbirds.

Boston’s style was appropriated by label executives and imitated by bands to create radio-friendly “corporate rock”, the creation of which the band was also accused. The album’s singles, most notably “More Than a Feeling” and “Long Time”, were both AM and FM hits, and nearly the entire album receives constant rotation on classic rock radio.
*Editor’s note: In fact, I want to point out that listening to FM radio is how most of us usually hear this band. They are still in heavy rotation to this day, but unfortunately, as with most music, FM radio does not do justice. Hearing this band on vinyl is really the best way. It is much more clear, easier to understand the lyrics and doesn’t sound like it was recorded on a portable cassette deck.

While Boylan arranged for Delp to have a custom-made Taylor acoustic guitar for thousands of dollars on the album budget, Scholz recorded such tracks as “More Than a Feeling” in his basement with a $100 Yamaha acoustic guitar. That spring, Boylan returned to Watertown to hear the tracks, on which Scholz had recut drums and other percussion and keyboard parts. He then hired a remote truck from Providence, Rhode Island to come to Watertown, where it ran a snake through the basement window of Scholz’s home to transfer his tracks to a 3M-79 2-inch 24-track deck. The entire recording was completed in the basement, save for Delp’s vocals, which were recorded at Capitol Studios’ Studio C with Warren Dewey engineering the overdubs. All vocals were double-tracked except the lead vocal, and all the parts were done by Delp in quick succession. Boylan found his only real confrontation with the autocratic Scholz during the mixing stage, in which Scholz handled the guitar tracks, Boylan the drums and Dewey the vocals, with Steve Hodge assisting. Scholz pushed guitars too high in the mix, rendering vocals inaudible at times.

Boston (the debut LP here), is mainly composed of songs written many years prior to their appearance on the album. The “Boston sound” combines “big, giant melodic hooks” with “massively heavy, classically inspired guitar parts.” For Scholz, the idea of beautiful vocal harmonies was inspired by The Left Banke, and the guitar-driven aspect was influenced by the Kinks, the Yardbirds and Blue Cheer. Another signature element of the “Boston sound” in terms of production involves the balance between acoustic and electric guitars. To this end, Scholz was inspired by his childhood listening of classical music, noting that the “basic concept” of setting the listener up for a change that is coming in the music had been explored for hundreds of years in classical compositions. *Editors note: (This concept is used in Progressive Rock as well). The record also makes use of multiple-part harmonized guitar solos and baroque melodic devices known as mordents. (Continue on next page)

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