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.

Boston 03

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)

Sib Hashian (centre): Wow
Sib Hashian (centre): Wow

‘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.

Boston 01

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.

286 Down.

*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.

30 thoughts on “Buston

  1. In my quite wide experience, dirty deeds done dirt cheap really aren’t worth the complications that inevitably come back to bite you. If they’re done dirt cheap, it’s either an amateur who doesn’t know how to research and carry out the assignment without leaving traces that lead back to you, or its someone who is past his or her game and will make unprofessional mistakes. Pay for a professional with references to do it if you aren’t able to do the deed yourself. Believe me, it’s always worth it in the end.

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  2. I have a soft spot for this album. My uncle was a huge fan of Boston, so growing up and hanging out with him I heard it a lot. My uncle was also a youth pastor so this was one of few “secular” bands I could hear with him that wasn’t the “meh” singer/songwriter stuff from the 70s like Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, and Bread.

    This record is what it is. It’s Tom Scholz being the MIT engineering nerd that he was and building his own amplification, recording a record by himself and finding a hell of a singer in Brad Delp to put the icing on the cake. “Smokin'” is a great boogie. “Hitch A Ride” is a great showcase for Delp’s singing, and “Foreplay/Long Time” is just a great 70s rock anthem. I needn’t mention “More Than A Feeling”, right?

    Do I throw this one on and jam out nowadays? No. In fact, I usually turn the station or just plug my ears with whatever is available when any of these songs come on, but for reminiscing sake, I can’t help but feel like an awkward teen jamming with my uncle whenever this record is thought of.

    I actually do still like a few songs still off of 1986s ‘Third Stage’, but that’s another story all together.

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  3. I actually much prefer Boston’s second album Don’t Look Back but I’d debate that the non-More Than a Feeling tracks lack power. Peace of Mind is an absolute feel-good blinder of a song and Smokin’ is ace too. However, Brad Delp could have sang the phone book and I’d have dug it so I’m maybe not the best person to talk to about this…

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  4. I want you to like this whole album, gall darn personal tastes be damned. But I recognize that I don’t get to choose for all (although it would make everyone’s lives much easier if you’d just let me tell you what’s good). In the end, I think I’ll simply take a page from 80smetalman and agree with you that this album is “so far ahead of anything else on offer that everything else pales by comparison.” (Direct quote, man!)

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    1. You clearly need to set yourself up as a tin-pot dictator immediately, Victimrovia? Vicdania? The Glorious Eternal Republic of Victimdia?

      I just find the rest of the LP a bit frictionless, if you see what I mean.

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      1. Frictionless was a selling point for Disaster Area and even sparked the legendary Zaphod’s GTS (“grand theft spaceship”). Frictionless IS the draw, man.

        “Victimhood.” I’m both ruler and population (and the combination of never-endling responsibility AND repression hurts, man, it hurts. Sometimes it is as if I were diving a stuntship directly into the sun’s fury.)

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  5. I pretty much agree with all this. I really wanted to like this album a lot more than I do. I was better off just picking up the Greatest Hits. I also agree about Sib’s hair/beard combo.

    I like your “Gray” alien Lego. That thing’s awesome.

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