Now I own quite a few LPs which are real ‘one-trackers’, you know where one song is simply so far ahead of anything else on offer that everything else pales by comparison to the point where you can only vaguely remember it at all. I can’t think of a stronger example then Boston.
Having been persuaded by Mrs 1537 to pick it up on eBay, after dismissing it (unheard, of course*) as ‘AOR shite’ back in 2004, it only took five seconds of opener ‘More than a Feeling’ before I gave in to the inevitable. I’d never even heard it on the radio before I owned it, believe it or not. No, really. Well that is if you don’t count ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, of course.
‘More Than a Feeling’, is of course just absolute perfection, a perfect melody wrapped in a perfect production, executed perfectly. 3:23 of beamed-down-from-the-stars perfection. It has the same melodramatic dynamics that thrilled the teenage 1537 so much in Queen’s ‘Save Me’ and Heart’s ‘Alone’**, the same quiet/LOUD balance and story arc. Tom Scholz slips the perfect riff into the song and Brad Delp, iffy silk jacket and all, takes us stratospheric perfectly.
Critical me can’t help thinking; ‘Hey 1537^, Boston came out in 1976 – the same year as Ramones and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, what are you doing hanging out with slick, schmaltzy dudes like this?’
To which I respond: ‘Come on, check out Sib Hashian – that’s the best beard ‘n hair combo EVER! Loser.’
‘I heard that! AOR-wuss!’
(descends into name calling, a bit of pushing and slaps)
‘More Than a Feeling’, does something I’ve written about before, it just bypasses all critical faculties, it’s just such a great uplifting tune it pretty much just engages direct with your central cortex, your brain and ears are simply not required. You know it’s great, possibly something to do with the resonating properties of certain vibrations. You know the bit in Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ where he sings,
I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
Well ‘More Than a Feeling’ is composed entirely of those Jehovah-gratifying chords. True story.
There is a downside to all this, of course and that is nothing that follows on Boston can live up to it. Such is the power of the song and the, umm, unpower of what follows that my brain has behaved like an overly fluff-clad record needle and just done that whole schwuuurpp thing and scattered on through to the run off groove every time I’ve played Boston. I’ve tried to listen to this LP (and have done) about four times recently and I would struggle to tell you anything at all about any other track here.
Now I would argue that’s not all down to the sheer majesty of ‘More than a Feeling’, it’s also that the rest of the LP is composed entirely of well-played, highly professional soft rock, which I think just by its very nature induces a kind of aural-cloaking effect on me. If you could somehow play ‘Hitch a Ride’ and ‘Something About You’ on an endless loop around you, I have no doubt you could march into the tower of London and take the crown jewels without anyone noticing you at all. They’re not bad per se, but just a bit too slick, like aural Teflon they leave no residue on my brain pan.
If you forced me to pick a second favourite track at gun point I’d plump for ‘Peace of Mind’ because, whilst the melody is very different, the riff is almost exactly the same as the one in ‘More than a Feeling’, just a tiny bit re-ordered; or maybe ‘Foreplay’ because it sounds like a stray two minutes from Tarkus.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to give that song another spin.
*not that I let that ever cloud my judgment; previous unheard dismissals include Pulp (‘posey shite’), Dogs D’Amour (‘drunken shite’), Revolver (‘not a patch on Rubber Soul’), Dance music in general (‘moronic shite’), System of A Down (‘noisy shite for kids’) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (‘plinky-plonky shite’) – all of which became 1537 faves, apart from the last, which I still, almost totally, stand by.
**obviously I’m more of a ‘Barracuda’ guy these days.
^I reckon if I keep referring to myself in the third-person, I’m probably only 12 months away from my first underground lair and world takeover scheme.