Boston - Don't Look Back

On August 2, 1978 "Boston" released their second album "Don't Look Back".


After the unprecedented success of the debut album "Boston", the pressure on Tom Scholz and his friends to create a follow-up on the same level, was enormous. They turned overnight from an anonymous band playing in bars and small clubs to a band that fills stadiums. At that time, the album "Boston" was considered the best-selling debut album in the world, with sales of about 20 million copies, so it was clear that it would be very difficult to reproduce this success.


Indeed, this album fell far short of the debut "Boston" album, both in terms of musical material and in terms of sales (about 8 million copies only). Still, there are some brilliant moments in this album, which are among the best produced by the perfectionist Tom Scholz, so you shouldn't even consider skipping it.


Despite the tremendous success of the band, which opened up possibilities and doors of renowned and leading studios and producers, once again Tom Scholz decided to record, produce and master the album in the private studio he built in his home basement. As you may remember, after graduating with honors from MIT, Schultz began working in the development department of the "Polaroid Corporation" and in his free time, he built a recording studio in the basement of his house, full of equipment, electronic components, and effects, where the band's debut album - "Boston" was recorded. Scholz, who is a perfectionist and multi-instrumentalist, decided to recreate the recording process from the debut album, when he plays most of the instruments and is accompanied by Brad Delp on vocals and Sib Hashian on drums. The two remaining band members hardly contributed to the recording process. Guitarist Barry Goudreau played a few solos and bassist Fran Sheehan played only in one song.


Even in this case, the greatness of the album rests on the fusion of Scholz's unique guitar sounds mixed with the amazing vocal abilities of vocalist Brad Delp. Scholz's genius is once again reflected in the tremendous production, the unique sound, and the never-ending layers of instruments, channels, and effects, which make this album, as well as its predecessor, sound fresh and innovative even after more than four decades, have passed since its recording.


As for the musical material, some of the songs on the album were written by Scholtz back in the early seventies, at the same time he wrote the songs for the debut album "Boston".


The theme song "Don't Look Back", which also opens the album is actually the last song written and recorded for it. Scholtz noted that everything happened so quickly that he didn't even have time to record a demo for the song. Well, "fast" for the perfectionist Scholtz is a relative matter, because he nevertheless testified that he made more than 60 edits on Sib Hashian's drum parts, until he was satisfied. It was the first single released from the album and it immediately became a hit led by Scholz's infectious guitar riff and the vocal harmonies of Brad Delp, who is also responsible for the background vocals. According to Scholtz, Fran Sheehan only played a few bass notes on the song, while guitarist Barry Goudreau only played the solo in the intro and outro which Scholtz praised. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest (and longest) songs on the album and it includes a relatively quiet transition section, from which everything is gradually rebuilt, until its peak intensity at the end.


The second and third tracks on the album "The Journey/It's Easy" try to follow "Foreplay/Long Time" from the previous album. "The Journey" is a short atmospheric instrumental piece that connects the opening track to the following section. Just like in a "Journey", the section includes dramatic effects that get more and more intense until the sudden burst into the "It's Easy" track. In 1987, Scholtz stated that "The Journey" was his favorite of all the songs on the first three "Boston" albums and that he regretted that it was not longer. He described listening to it as follows: "I'm floating through space, cruising in an airplane over the clouds".


"A Man I'll Never Be" that closes the first side is probably the best song on the album. It opens like a typical "power ballad", but is much more than that. What upgrades this song for us is the melodic guitar line that penetrates the soul and of course the layers of guitar riffs that are among Scholtz's best and the mighty voice of Brad Delp who is also responsible for all the background vocals that at times sound like a full choir. All the instruments in the song, except for the drums played by Sib Hashian, are played by Scholtz. In fact Scholz, Delp, and Hashian were the only ones present in the studio when the song was recorded. One of the most beautiful moments in the song is towards the end, when the layers of guitars give way to a Hammond organ played by Scholtz, before the short piano outro that closes the song and the first side of the vinyl. This piano was actually the only piece on the entire album that was recorded in an outside recording studio, simply because Scholtz couldn't fit a grand piano into his basement.


The second side of the album is weaker than the previous one, and indeed Scholtz later admitted that only the first side of the album was recorded perfectly and to his complete satisfaction. It opened with "Feelin' Satisfied" which was the third single from the album. A bouncy rock 'n' roll piece with a sweeping riff and beat, which at times rests on the claps of the band members and other guests who came to the studio. It is followed by "Party" written by Scholtz in collaboration with Brad Delp. It is one of the least powerful songs on the album, but it actually proves its greatness, because it is still a good song. Its riff sounds like an imitation of "Smokin'" from the previous album, but that doesn't bother us at all.


We are nearing the end with "Used to Bad News" which opens with a different and more airy sound of organ and arpeggio chords. A melodic track written by Brad Delp in which Scholtz puts the layers of guitars aside and focuses on playing the Hammond organ, which takes the lead in many sections. The album ends with "Don't Be Afraid" which despite the amazing vocal quality in it, the excellent control of the guitar, and the special dynamics of the drums, still does not deliver the goods compared to the debut album.


After the release of the album, the band went on tour and at the beginning of 1980 already started working on their third album "Third Stage", but a long legal battle delayed its release for more than eight years.


For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music


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