Boston - Greatest Hits

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Epic/Sony
Catalog Number: EK 67622
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:36:00

Alright, yes, Boston are AOR not progressive (or at least more AOR than progressive), but I have always liked their particular brand of AOR from the moment I first heard "More Than A Feeling." It was the big guitar sound of Tom Scholz, the vocals of Brad Delp, and the memorable hooks - all that which as made AOR what it is.

So, whilst browsing the record store one May afternoon this year, I chanced to see at the end of a display a Boston album advertised as a "new arrival" (or some such). "Wow!" I thought. "Boston with a new album. It's been?what, more than three years at least since the last album, so they should be right on schedule." As it happens, Walk On was released six years ago, in 1994. So, being the Boston fan that I am, I this scooped "new arrival" up. As I looked it over, I noticed it was not only a Greatest Hits package, but from 1997.

The reason why I remark on this is because great deal was made of the fact that it took Boston eight years between the release of their second album Don't Look Back (1978) and their third, Third Stage (1986). Of course, the time between their third and fourth was also eight years. By rights, their next studio should be released in 2002. That only about two years passed between their self-titled debut and Don't Look Back seems an anomaly. I'm sure issues and personnel conflicts attributed to the delays - it all seems to ring some bell.

Anyway, there are a couple of new tunes on this disc, along with the expected "More Than A Feeling," "Don't Look Back" and my other personal favorite, "Foreplay/Long Time." The first of these new tracks is "Tell Me," which features David Sikes on vocals, and Scholz on everything else (which has almost always been the case). There are hints of Third Stage-era Boston around the edges of the track - faint echoes of "Amanda." It is also a ballad, so typical for the genre. It's okay, but it doesn't grab me the same way the classic stuff does - in fact, nothing since Third Stage has grabbed me. I've got Walk On, but I don't think I've listened to it much.

But, in listening to "Tell Me" and the other new one, "Higher Power," I was transported back to my high school years. The essential Boston-ness of Boston hasn't disappeared. "Higher Power" is a rockier tune that might be called a love song until you read the lyrics and find that it is a love song, but of an entirely different aspect (what the Greeks called agape, or love of god). Written for those who kicked the habit of drugs, the core message is finding your way out through god (or God, some prefer [and yet still others G-d]). The song appears later on in a different edit, seeming a little punchier than the other does, but I've not listened to them side by side to say for sure.

While all four studio albums are represented, the bulk comes from the first two albums?which corresponds I suppose to the number of hits each had when released. Walk On is represented only by one track "Livin' For You." The anecdote here is that I didn't recall this song and figured it for a new track till I checked my copy of Walk On.

Unless you're a Boston completist (which I guess I am), this isn't essential. Though there is a rollicking version of the "Star Spangled Banner" (here called "The Star Spangled Banner/4th Of July Reprise," from 1994). But I had fun listening to it - air-guitaring as I hadn't done in a while - and since (to my surprise) I don't have the first two on CD, hearing the classics in this sharper format was a treat.

Perhaps the repush on this means that there's new material in offing...

Postscript: As it turns out, Boston are working on a new album, though no release date has been given. You can hear samples of two new tracks by visiting the website, and going to What's New. They were recorded for a January Rockline radio show, and while the sound quality is dodgy (at least on the mono mp3s), it will give you an idea of where this era of Boston is headed.

[Jul 2009: As a post-postscript; aside from noting the passing of Brad Delp in 2007 - no minor thing, of course -- the group did release a CD in 2002, Corporate America

Tell Me (4:05) / Higher Power (5:07) / More Than A Feeling (4:46) / Peace Of Mind (5:04) / Don't Look Back (6:00) / Cool The Engines (4:38) / Livin' For You (4:55) / Feelin' Satisfied (4:10) / Party (4:07) / Foreplay/Long Time (7:50) / Amanda (4:16) / Rock & Roll Badn (3:00) / Smokin' (4:20) / A Man I'll Never Be (6:41) / The Star Spangled Banner/4th Of July Reprise (2:44) / Higher Power (Kalodner Edit) (3:53)

Tom Scholz - lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, special effects, bass, pianos, organ, clavinet, keyboard strings, drums, percussion, and vocals
Brad Delp - lead and harmony vocals, acoustic 12-string guitar, rhythm guitar, and percussion (2 - 6, 8 - 14, 16)
Fran Cosmo - vocals (2, 7,16)
David Sikes - vocals (1, 7)
Barry Goudreau - lead and rhythm guitars (3, 4, 10, 12, 13)
Fran Sheehan - bass and percussion (3, 4, 10, 12, 13)
Sib Hashian - drums and percussion (3, 4, 10, 12, 13)
Jim Masdea - drums (13)
Curly Smith - harmonica (2, 16)

Boston (1976)
Don't Look Back (1978)
Third Stage (1986)
Walk On (1994)
Greatest Hits (1997)
Corporate America (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1074
Language: english


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