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Music Review: Boston – ‘Life, Love & Hope’

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Hearing the opening chords of “Heaven on Earth,” the first track on Boston’s new Life, Love & Hope, a listener can be forgiven for thinking it’s 1976 all over again. That’s by design.

Boston main motor Tom Scholz has made no secret that his sixth release was intended to emulate the classic Boston style, even using the same amps, instruments, and analog equipment he’s worked with for the past 35 years. While many artists now produce their work in home studios in the same fashion Scholz pioneered, what everyone else can’t replicate is the extremely recognizable Boston sound best remembered in hits including “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” “Smokin’,” and 1986’s “Amanda.” If you liked that type of pop rock, Life, Love & Hope is the very sort of CD you should pop in the player while you’re cruising down the road. Odds are, you’ll be bouncing your head in time with the catchy hooks and lyrical clichés that have been so distinctive all these years.
Boston (400x400)

One difference between Life, Love & Hope and previous collections is the range of the seven lead vocalists including the late Brad Delp (on three tracks), Tommy DeCarlo, David Victor, as well as Scholz’s first lead on a Boston album, “Love Got Away.” Two of the Delp songs, “You Gave Up on Love (2.0)” and “Someone (2.0)” are remixed versions of tracks from the 2002 Corporate America release, an album of songs Scholz claims didn’t get their due the first time around.

New material includes the instrumental “Last Day of School” with the strutting drama of a prog rock anthem, appropriately leading into the theatrical “Sail Away.” Some numbers not only evoke the Boston of old but the era as a whole, as with the title song with its subtle guitar quotes from “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The tone briefly shifts with the sixth song, “If You Were In Love.” Suddenly, the voice of Kimberley Dahme offers a melody sounding very much like a track lifted from a Broadway show. No, it’s not the Boston you remember. But fear not. The rest of the set features the layered guitars and harmonies typical of everything Boston has ever done on songs like “Someday,” “Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.”

While it’s been over a decade since there was a new Boston album, Life, Love & Hope can’t fairly be described as any sort of major event. There are no creative breakthroughs, no knock-out hits beyond “Heaven on Earth.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Scholz’s tight craftsmanship is present in every track. The musicianship of all the players and singers is cleanly and clearly mixed in a very pleasant batch of rock nuggets.

The press kit claims “A beautiful full-color booklet with notes from Scholz and detailed song credits accompanies” the disc, but this wasn’t part of my review package. So, to get the inside story, get Life, Love and hope. It’s more of that same old feeling. It was, and is, a pretty good feeling, after all.

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About Wesley Britton

  • BudderLuver

    Grabbed this disc as soon as Best Buy opened Tuesday morning. Start to finish, front to back, the entire thing is amazing! For those of you whining about, “it’s not the same Boston! It don’t sound like More Than A Feeling!”
    Really? That was 37 years ago. Brad Delp was in his prime. Now, he’s gone.
    But the fact remains, these guys still bring it! All vocals(except Scholz’s solo) are excellent. Get passed the “I was expecting…” crap, turn on and enjoy an amazing production.

    • Tanner Blaze

      Trust me, fans knew they werent getting the debut album all over again, they just want an album without crappy drum machines and a proper mix.

  • XtremePatriotitus

    What cracks me up is that we live in a disposable society of idiot younger people who think it’s hip to spend $500 bucks on a turntable and purchase a pair of $180.00 “Big Boy Headphones” ( I still have my $8.00 pair from 1972 and they work great) assuming they are on the “cutting edge” of the school of popular musicology (somebody carpet bomb The MTV Music Awards please) which makes them clueless twits. Yet these fools refuse to listen to the great turntable, headphone music that blew minds in 1975. Boston. Tom Sholtz still lays down beautiful music to enjoy and be joyful about. The fools who voted Obama in and think Paisley is new and hip need to shut up and just…listen to the album!

    • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com/ Christopher Rose

      Boston? Blew your mind? In 1975?

      What about Bob Dylan, Dr Feelgood, The Miracles, Gil Scott Heron, Gloria Gaynor, AC/DC. Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, David Bowie, Parliament, Barry White, Steely Dan? And that was just the first three months!

      Boston?

      You really need to get out more…

      • Paul

        All good bands too, but why the slam on Boston? Are you trying to get a job writing for Rolling Stone or something? Their debut album is one of the best of all time, and it is still in my top ten. Unfortunately, this new album sucks, and the crappy electronic drums make it nearly unlistenable.

  • Tanner Blaze

    Did you even listen to bostons newest record before writing that review? You wrote, “…all the players and singers are cleanly and clearly mixed.” This album is being universally panned by music critics and fans alike for the uneven mixing of the album, possible one of the worst mixes I’ve ever heard. My advice, at least listen to a whole song before writing a review because yours was so far off base its crazy. Liking the music or not is subjective, but the mix on that record well known now to be terrible.

  • Craig

    Just bought the new album – have been a fan since day one – only comment I have is “what the hell did he do to the drums?” – otherwise nice to have them back.

  • ray

    Electronic drums ruin this record for. Where’s Sib when you need him? Really unfortunate that Schulz would go to the trouble of trying to recreate the magic on the first record only to cheap out on the drums. Very disappointing.