ufoIt’s time for our latest instalment of Self Made Man and this week he focuses on one of the finest soft rock acts of all time.

In the week Boston announced full details of their new album – slated for December – our resident classic rock columnist recalls the band’s glory days.

And don’t forget you can read Self Made Man exclusively right here every week. 

 

Boston release Life, Love and Hope, their sixth studio album in December.

That’s right, their SIXTH album – and they’ve been going for almost 38 years.

Joe Bonamassa has released as many albums in the past 38 months but Boston’s leader Tom Scholz is not a man to hurry things.

I had to chuckle when a press release of the forthcoming release landed in my inbox the other day.

“More than a decade in the making,” it says. You don’t say!

You see, we’ve all become accustomed to big gaps between Boston albums since the release of their legendary debut album back in 1976.

That record, which included More Than A Feeling (one of the best, most famous and most played rock tracks of all-time) went platinum 17 times.

The band from Massachusetts became an overnight sensation.

No-one could have predicted what was to follow when the follow-up to their self-titled debut came out in 1978 – just two years later.

Don’t Look Back wasn’t quite as good, nor quite as successful, but it still reached No. 1 in the album charts in the United States and sold by the bucketload.

Boston were one of the biggest bands in the world – and one of the best live acts too. Those lucky enough to catch them at Newcastle City Hall in 1980 still rate it one of the finest gigs they’ve ever been to.

So we waited for album No. 3. And waited. And waited.

Scholz was renowned as something of a perfectionist, a musician who, if he wasn’t entirely happy with what he heard, was quite prepared to scrap the whole project and start again from scratch.

Eventually Third Stage did hit the streets in 1986. Again, it was good, again it sold well and again it hit the top of the charts across the Pond.

But Boston were no longer a band who looked capable of ruling the world. Their time was passing and when the fourth album came out – surprise, surprise in 1994 after another eight year hiatus – there was little fanfare.

They still had their fan base of course but it was a declining one. In the UK for example, Walk On didn’t even break into the Top 40.

By the time Corporate America was released in ……wait for it….2002, even their own fans appeared to have deserted them with the album having disappointing sales in their own country.

And tragedy struck in 2007 when their most famous vocalist, Brad Delp, committed suicide.

He features on at least one track on Life, Love and Hope but it is an album which, according to the press release, also showcases the vocal talents of  Tommy DeCarlo, Kimberley Dahme, David Victor and Scholz himself.

Almost certainly there won’t be anything on it as good as More Than A Feeling or even Amanda from Third Stage but by all accounts it’s an album with tracks which embody Boston’s trademark guitars, harmonies and immaculately-crafted sound.

We’ll leave the final word to Scholz though we may have to wait for his autobiography to understand why it takes him quite so long to release an album.

“I intentionally stayed close to the early Boston style on some of the songs, even using the same amps and instruments; on others I let my imagination run wild,” says Scholz.

“These are songs from the heart, each of them taking many months of effort to write, arrange, perform and record, always up to the demands of Boston’s harshest critic. Me.

“The songs have been meticulously recorded to analogue tape on the same machines and equipment used for Boston’s hits for the past 35 years.”

So when’s album No. 7 coming out then, Tom?

Ian Murtagh