Music Reviews

posted: April 24, 2009

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Classic Music Friday – Boston Re-release available April 27, 2009

Sony Legacy 180g. LP
Classic Music Friday – Boston

It was 1976, and my older brother had just come home on leave from the Air Force. He had driven 15 hours straight all the way from Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington to Garden Grove, California, and he surprised us all when he rolled up in a brand new jet black Camaro with all the fancy racing stripes and decals. As soon as he had tossed his olive drab duffel bag into the living room, he turned to me and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride through town. Twenty seconds after I propelled myself  into the front passenger seat, he pulled out a cassette, placed it into the Camaro’s tape deck, cranked the volume way high and said, “Wait until you hear this.”

It was, of course, Boston’s debut album. While I look at most of the corporate rock of the ‘70s (Kansas, REO Speedwagon, Blue Oyster Cult) with a fairly consistent amount of disdain, I just can’t hate this album because it brings back so many memories. I always get a chill down the back of my neck when I hear that clean, memorable guitar riff from “More Than a Feeling,” and I remember telling my friend Johnny Garrett from across the street that it was the best rock song I’d ever heard. Even at the age of 14 I could respect Tom Scholz’ meticulous and obsessive production values, and I remember noting how clear and perfect everything sounded. Sure, I’d wind up bashing this kind of rock in a couple of years once I heard the fabulously sloppy sounds of the Ramones, MC5 and the first couple of Springsteen albums. But in the late summer of 1976, Boston ruled.

My favorite moment on this record is one of the more quiet ones. I always get goosebumps during the bridge on “Smokin’” when the keyboards start meting out that eerie minor-key progression and the lead guitar marks off the tempo through the wah-wah pedal just before the big organ swoops in brings it all back home for the final verse. Just yesterday I finally watched “The Wrestler” on DVD, and I think about the part where Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are listening to Ratt and talking about how much the ‘90s sucked when it came to music. “Like there’s somethin’ wrong with just wanting to have a good time?” she tells him. I could put on my critic’s cap and bash Boston, but I can’t. I remember that day riding around in that Camaro, and I had a hell of a good time.

–Marc Phillips