Oh, how much we love this album...
Even today, after decades of intense playing, we cannot get enough of it. Each song on the album has its own special charm and sound.... what a sound, what a crazy production. All of these make the album sound fresh as if it was only released yesterday.
This album is the fruit of the vision of one man, a genius and a perfectionist. This person conceived, planned and performed every detail on this album, from setting up the studio itself, through building the equipment, writing the songs, recording, producing to the final mix.
This genius is called Tom Scholz and he is responsible for the amazing album "Boston", the debut album of "Boston", released August 25, 1976.
The story of the album begins in the late 60's. Tom Scholz was a student of music technicians at the prestigious MIT, one of the best universities in the world in the field of science and technology. In those days Schultz began writing the music for what would become about 7 years later one of the best-selling debut albums in the world, selling more than 20 million copies.
After graduating with honors, Schultz began working in the development department of "Polaroid Corporation". At night he played keyboards for various bands in Boston pubs and in his spare time he built a recording studio in his home basement, full with equipment, electronic components and effects.
Schultz also knew how to play on various instruments. He began experimenting with innovative recording and sound technics, adding more and more instruments, channels, effects and sound layers. Schultz was a perfectionist and there are rumors that he recorded certain parts over and over again dozens of times until he reached a result that satisfied him.
While working in the studio, Schultz, along with drummer Jim Masdea and guitarist Barry Goudreau, formed a band called "Mother's Milk". The band replaced a large number of singers until Brad Delp got accepted to the band, thus creating the basis of the band "Boston".
The band continued to perform and at the same time Schultz and the other members recorded the songs he wrote. By 1973 the band already had a demo that included six songs. Schultz sent the songs to all the record companies he could think of. The songs on that demo tape were: "More Than a Feeling", "Peace of Mind", "Rock & Roll Band", "Something About You", "Hitch a Ride" and "Don't Be Afraid", which will eventually be included On the band's second album, "Don't Look Back".
The band received rejection letters one after the other, some of which were even insulting. In 1975, After two years, Delp gave up and left the band. Schultz also gave up on performances and locked himself in the studio for hours in an attempt to improve the recordings. He enlisted the help of his friends, who were called to the studio from time to time, and re-recorded some of the songs and instruments.
Equipped with a new and satisfactory recording, Schultz decided to use some of the connections and passed the recording to a friend from "Polaroid" whose cousin worked at the record company "ABC Records". The same cousin placed the tape on the desk of one of the company employees but it was forgotten there for weeks, until the same employee recalled it's existence and decided to listen to it. He got excited and contacted another friend, who was linked to "Epic" which immediately called Schultz and offered him a recording contract, but on two terms. One, was that Schultz present the materials live, in front of them, with a full band. The second, that the album will be recorded in a professional studio with a technician from "Epic".
Enthusiastic Schultz was afraid to miss the opportunity and rushed to reassemble the band along with Delp and Guadro and at the same time enlisted bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer Sib Hashian. The band rented a warehouse from "Aerosmith" and preformed the live audition in front of the company members. Now Schultz had to overcome the second and higher hurdle, as most of the album had already been recorded and he did not intend to let any technician destroy what he had achieved over 7 years of perfectionist work.
(Photo: Ron Pownall)
Luckily for Schultz, he found an ally in John Boylan, who was entrusted with the production on behalf of the record company. Schultz sent all the band members to the Los Angeles Record Company's studio as a diversion, while he remained in Massachusetts and continued to work on improving the recordings in his basement. Not only did Boylan ignore the fact that Schultz stayed in his home basement, but he even flew his recording technician, Paul Grupp, to Boston to help Schultz record the acoustic instruments, as he thought Schultz's work on the acoustic was not good enough.
After the recordings were completed, Schultz flew to Los Angeles to perform the final mixes. It is amazing to think that the end result of this album, with its amazing sound, included the same recordings from Schultz's basement with only minor additions and changes, which were recorded in studios in Los Angeles. Moreover, all the songs on the album except for one "Let Me Take You Home Tonight", which ends the album and was written by Delp, are the same songs from the original demo tape on which Schultz began working 7 years earlier.
This album was defined as one of the most complex projects in the history of music, but at the same time it was also one of the cheapest, costing only thousands of dollars. All thanks to the initiative and execution of the genius Tom Schultz, who created most of this album with his ten fingers.
This album demonstrates how perseverance and goal adherence ultimately pays off. This is a timeless masterpiece that features some of Rock's most beautiful songs.
The opening song, "More Than a Feeling", which was the first single released from the album in September 1976, reached number 39 on VH1's all-time best rock song rankings. The song is on the list of the 500 greatest songs of all time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now hold on tight: the song was one of the influences on Kurt Cobain in writing the riff for Nirvana's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Cobain noted in an interview the following words about that famous reef: "It was such a clichéd riff. It was so close to a Boston riff." Schultz himself mentioned The Left Banke's song "Walk Away Renee" as the inspiration for this masterpiece and defined the song as a bitter-sweet ballad. By the way, the "Marianne" mentioned in the song is Schultz's cousin, who was a few years older than him, in whom Schultz was in love in his youth. Schultz noted that years later, when she found out he mentioned her in the song, she was really angry with him.
The second track, "Peace of Mind", released as the third single from the album, shows the perfect combination, repeated on this album, between the acoustic guitars and the sound of the electric guitar so unique to "Boston". This combination existed in bands like "Led Zeppelin", "The Who" and "Yes", but "Boston" improved it and brought it to perfection. Another hallmark of Boston's so unique sound is Brad Delp's incredible singing, whose harmonies have been achieved by recording repeated layers of his voice. It is interesting to note that the drum roles here were developed by Jim Masdea, but re-recorded by Sib Hashian as part of the improvements Schultz made to the recordings. Schultz wrote the song about his friends at "Polaroid Corporation" and his own unwillingness to climb the ranks of the company's top management. Delp himself defined this song as an example of Schultz's ability to combine the harmonies of "the Beach Boys" with the heavy guitar sound of "Led Zeppelin". "Guitar World" magazine chose this song as one of the 50 best rock songs of all time.
The third track, "Foreplay / Long Time", is one of the most complex and long tracks on the album, something on the verge of Progressive. "Foreplay" is the keyboard-driven instrumental section based on the "Hammond B3" organ that appears as an introduction to the song. "Long Time" includes the vocals and came out as the second single from the album and it stands on its own. Schultz noted that this was the first song he ever wrote and recorded, back in 1969. "Rolling Stone" magazine defined the song as a combination of "Yes" and "Led Zeppelin". The three solo tracks in the second part of the song are played by Barry Goudreau.
The other side of the vinyl opens with "Rock & Roll Band". Many thought the song told the story of "Boston", but this was not the case. "Boston" was not a band at all until the mix stage of the album. The song was written following Schultz's conversation with drummer Jim Masdea who was in the Boston pub and club scene and told Schultz about the struggles of local bands to get a recording contract.
The song "Smokin'" was originally called "Shakin" and contrary to popular belief does not deal with marijuana. The song tells about the feelings when listening to music. The song has received several cover versions, one of the most interesting of which is that of the thrash metal band Anthrax.
"Hitch a Ride" was originally called "San Francisco Day" and Schultz used to play it in shows of the first variations of "Mother's Milk". The song opens as a quiet and pleasant acoustic ballad and develops with the takeover of the Hammond organ and electric guitars. The song features one of the most beautiful solo pieces on the album that spans about half of the song.
The album ends with two recently written tracks: Schultz's "Something About You", originally called "Life Isn't Easy" and was Schultz's last demo in 1975, and "Let Me Take You Home Tonight" which is the only song Delp wrote and also plays acoustic guitar.
Boston's debut album is considered one of the greatest albums in rock history. It is on the list of the 200 greatest albums of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and in the book "1001 albums that you must listen to before you die".
Schultz's perfectionism will help him put out more masterpieces, but it will also cause a relatively slow creation process with huge intervals between albums. In the early 1980s, Schultz founded "Scholz Research & Development, Inc." The company will market, among other things, the successful guitar amplifier "Rockman", which was invented by Schultz.