Written for The Argo by Ethan Herzinger
The USA has given us countless stellar rock n roll artists throughout the decades. With pioneers like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly to 1960’s counterculture California-based heavyweights like The Mamas And The Papas and Jefferson Airplane, to recent trailblazers like The Black Keys and The Strokes, our nation’s music culture never slows down.
Boston is without question part of this fantastic lineup. Boston was formed in its namesake city around 1975 by founding member and multi-instrumentalist Tom Schultz, along with lead singer Brad Delp, guitarist Barry Goudreau, bassist Fran Sheenan, and John (Sib) Hashian. The band is known mostly for “More Than A Feeling”. While that song is great in its own right, my musical hot take is to dig deeper into the band’s catalog and offer my honest critique.
For starters, Boston, the band’s self-titled debut record which was released on August 25th, 1976, is highly regarded as one of rock n roll’s greatest debut records. And it’s for a good reason. It helps that “More Than A Feeling” was the song that kicked off the album because it became the band’s cash cow and a FM rock radio staple. However, this whole LP is chalk filled with fantastic tracks that are pure American rock n’ roll and coined the term ‘arena rock”.
Key tracks to listen to are “Rock N Roll Band,””Smokin” ‘Hitch A Ride,” “Foreplay/Long Time,” and “Something About You”.
“Foreplay/Long Time” is in the same league with Bohemian Rhapsody as one of rock’s greatest epics . The beginning is all band members running full steam ahead with Tom Schultz at the helm leading the iconic organ/synthesizer intro. Then all is quiet while more organs are played and then like a rocket, the blistering guitar dueling from both Barry and Tom kick in and give us what is now that immortal Boston sound; the harmonized guitar parts.
“Smokin” is a rock bar jukebox boogie with killer guitar work by both Goudreau and Schultz (Schultz gives it his all on the memorable organ solo) and Hashian’s in pocket groove.
The best song off the album however is “Hitch A Ride”. This song alone showcases what Boston is truly made of. It features each band member at their full potential . The song structure itself is remarkable once the song is tuned up a half of step. Most rock songs are usually standard, drop D, or either tune down a half step. The song kicks off with the ear pleasing acoustic guitar and Brad Delp gives his best vocal performance. Fran Sheenan lays down a killer bass line as well. The kicker for this song however, is the outro guitar solos provided by both Goudreau and Schultz. The iconic Boston harmonized guitar parts are in full swing here. What I love about the solo is that not only is it flashy, but it is also soulful.
Despite all this, I believe the band truly never captured the raw emotion that they once did like on their debut album. Granted, they have made decent songs like “Feelin Satisfied” but even that alone seems timid compared to every single song on their debut.
Boston is a band that came into the scene with a bang, and its footprint is forever stamped into music history.