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Thread: My "Quick Review" of the New Boston Album, "Life, Love & Hope"

  1. #1

    My "Quick Review" of the New Boston Album, "Life, Love & Hope"

    The first thing to understand about this album is that it is essentially an EP, NOT an LP. The eight NEW songs on this album clock in right at 30 minutes. To my way of thinking, that's about 1/2 an album, or one album side.

    The new music is worthwhile, if a bit uneven, but for the most part it succeeds in invoking that "more than a" feeling, if only because of the familiar guitar tone. I suspect the new tunes will work their way into my consciousness over time, but I predict that none of them will ever rise to the top like "Long Time," or "Don't Look Back."

    The production is a different story. Where Boston's 1976 debut leapt out of the analog grooves and wrapped itself around your brain, the sound here is pretty ... safe. Not bad, just nothing special or new (... or even old ...) Except for the kick, the drums sound like they were recorded from across the room. The vocals are fine, but Brad Delp's (for-the-most-part) absence is definitely felt. (He contributes to parts of three songs on the album.)

    Besides the eight new pieces, the other three songs are reworked versions of tunes from "Corporate America," which came out 11 years ago, and which Tom Scholz felt never got a "fair shot" in the marketplace. Song-wise, they are among the strongest of the bunch, and if you missed "Corporate," they will make "Life, Love & Hope" feel like a (nearly) complete new Boston album experience. ("Corporate America" is long out-of-print.)

    So, bottom line: a new release from Tom Scholz is good news. This could be better ... but it's better than nothing. Much better. Good enough to tide you over until Supernal Endgame's "Touch the Sky, Volume II" comes out early next year.

    (See what I did there?)

    Rob

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  4. #4
    The reviewers in the video above used the term "insular" ("uninterested in ideas outside of one's own experience") ... and that's a pretty good diagnosis of what appears to be happening here.

    I read somewhere that Scholz pretty much played all of the instruments himself on this one. The advantage of this "auteur" approach is the potential for consistency of vision; the disadvantage is the danger of driving off a cliff without even being aware of it.

    The album has bright spots (e.g. the instrumental tune "Last Day of School"), and several of the songs are growing on me ... but Tom definitely needs some objective input if he's ever going to recapture what once made the band great.

    Plus: 11 years for eight new songs totaling 30 minutes of music? Please.

  5. #5
    After listening to the album, I'd say it was sprinkled with a few melodic nuggets of Boston memorabilia here and there, but nothing that sent chills down my spine or took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting songs on par with the band's debut or even their follow-up, but it sure would've been nice to have at least one cohesive offering. "Heaven On Earth" is the only song that comes close for me, but even that is blighted by the lack of a real intro and didn't go unmolested by Scholz baritone backing vocals. Must he sing backing vocals or perform some sort of spoken word on every track?

    Speaking of vocals, those present on this album impart an amateur feel to the album as a whole, in my opinion. I'm not expecting Brad Delp. I mean, I know the guy's gone, but for someone who spent eleven years working on this album, would it have killed Scholz to spend a little time searching out a vocalist to fill Delp's shoes properly?

    The songs themselves sound like a collection of interesting ideas, at least in parts, but were recorded prematurely and not properly fleshed out, in my opinion. I mean, there are bits and pieces that, if paired with equally convincing progressions, would've made for complete and cohesive songs.

    As it stands for me, the album sounds like a mishmash of amateur vocalists and half-baked ideas served cold.

    2 out of 5 stars

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by r3ality View Post
    After listening to the album, I'd say it was sprinkled with a few melodic nuggets of Boston memorabilia here and there, but nothing that sent chills down my spine or took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting songs on par with the band's debut or even their follow-up, but it sure would've been nice to have at least one cohesive offering. "Heaven On Earth" is the only song that comes close for me, but even that is blighted by the lack of a real intro and didn't go unmolested by Scholz baritone backing vocals. Must he sing backing vocals or perform some sort of spoken word on every track?

    Speaking of vocals, those present on this album impart an amateur feel to the album as a whole, in my opinion. I'm not expecting Brad Delp. I mean, I know the guy's gone, but for someone who spent eleven years working on this album, would it have killed Scholz to spend a little time searching out a vocalist to fill Delp's shoes properly?

    The songs themselves sound like a collection of interesting ideas, at least in parts, but were recorded prematurely and not properly fleshed out, in my opinion. I mean, there are bits and pieces that, if paired with equally convincing progressions, would've made for complete and cohesive songs.

    As it stands for me, the album sounds like a mishmash of amateur vocalists and half-baked ideas served cold.

    2 out of 5 stars
    You hit the nail on the head. Get a more powerful singer and add 20 minutes, this at least gets a 4/5 for me. Some nice old time Boston flashbacks here and there, but could've / should've, but didn't, peak the way an album 11 years in the making from a band/Scholz has the ability to provide. Highlight for me is the instrumental "Last Day Of School". Has more of a Queen/Brian May feel to it though. At only 2:03 it too never takes off to its' full promise.
    I'm so newwwwwww, compared to youuuuuuu.....

  7. #7
    There is a Best Buy exclusive version of the new Boston CD with bonus tracks.

    Library Jon

  8. #8
    I just saw this thread and will post my review from the other Boston thread here:

    To be quite honest, the new album is another disappointment. After the first track "Heaven on Earth", the album goes downhill. The new songs are mostly midtempo fare but nothing exciting really. There was one song, can't recall which one, it might've been "Someday" where Scholz recycles some of the melody of one of the songs of the 'Third Stage' album. As I said before when I reviewed the samples, the 'Corporate America' songs sound out of place to this ears. They have different production values than the new songs, they don't belong here. I would have preferred them be placed at the end of the cd as bonus tracks instead of being made part of the album. That the 'Corporate America' songs are the real standouts on this cd tells you how weak the new material is and, I think, that's maybe the reason Scholz decided to include them, although they needed remixing especially "I Didn't Mean To Fall in Love" and "You Gave Up On Love" which sounded better here than on 'Corporate America'. The re-recording of "Someone" is unfortunate and unnecessary as the original version with Brad Delp is fantastic and better than the new version. I'll keep the cd just because I'm a completist.

    If you like AOR/melodic pop rock, I'd recommend you the new Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas cd 'Loveless Fascination' which is a fantastic addictive record, ten times better than this new Boston cd.

  9. #9
    After hearing the new album today, I'm also completely underwhelmed. A few decent tunes, but pretty bland AOR for the most part. I just don't get why Tom doesn't take the time to go out and find himself a dynamic lead singer who can write and also do the old classics justice. Regardless of what you think about Journey & Foreigner's current vocalists, both bands do great business on the live circuit, and have recorded a few solid albums with their new singers. Most fans want to hear the classic songs the way they like them, so getting singers who sound like the classic era vocalist usually works. If Tom could just find a singer who can hit those Delp notes and who can help him write new material that feels like classic Boston, he's got a winning formula. Also, finding another red hot guitar partner wouldn't hurt either. I'd love to see it happen. Boston needs to be a BAND again, not a one man Tom Scholz project with a who's who collection of unknown vocalists and old Brad Delp vocal recordings.

  10. #10
    1976 was a loooong time ago.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosebone View Post
    1976 was a loooong time ago.
    What's your point?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by JIF View Post
    What's your point?
    No point. Just an observation regarding Boston's artistic development through the decades.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosebone View Post
    No point. Just an observation regarding Boston's artistic development through the decades.
    I've listened to three songs(Heaven On Earth, If You Were In Love, and the title track). I like what I've heard so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosebone View Post
    1976 was a loooong time ago.
    I remember like it was yesterday.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Obscured View Post
    You hit the nail on the head. Get a more powerful singer and add 20 minutes,
    And hire a damn drummer.
    Yes, I still have an album. Yes, it's still two bucks.

    http://trurl.bandcamp.com/

    "There's only so much eating of free range mashed yeast and drinking of bottled water made from the tears of the indigenous peoples we took this land from that will forestall the inevitable"-- Micheal, YesFans.com

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    Mod or rocker? Mocker. Frumious B's Avatar
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    The production is embarrassingly bad. Can we stop referring to Scholz as some kind of genius/perfectionist now? I'm even a little surprised that a label would put out something so demoey sounding. The songs are slight with none of the chunky, melodic guitar hooks that made the first three. The committee approach to lead vocals makes the album sound jumbled and mix tapey, an effect heightened by the inclusion of the previously released songs. Unfortunately the only Boston singer anybody will ever give a damn about is gone. Time didn't wait for Tom Scholz. It kept on rolling until it was too late for him to do anything worth a damn.
    "It was a cruel song, but fair."-Roger Waters

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Frumious B View Post
    The production is embarrassingly bad. Can we stop referring to Scholz as some kind of genius/perfectionist now? I'm even a little surprised that a label would put out something so demoey sounding. The songs are slight with none of the chunky, melodic guitar hooks that made the first three. The committee approach to lead vocals makes the album sound jumbled and mix tapey, an effect heightened by the inclusion of the previously released songs.
    I hate to say it but it's true. This does not sound like the sort of thing that would ever see the light of day on a reasonably legitimate label. Even the cover looks homemade.
    Yes, I still have an album. Yes, it's still two bucks.

    http://trurl.bandcamp.com/

    "There's only so much eating of free range mashed yeast and drinking of bottled water made from the tears of the indigenous peoples we took this land from that will forestall the inevitable"-- Micheal, YesFans.com

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by trurl View Post
    And hire a damn drummer.
    Hear, hear.

  20. #20
    Mod or rocker? Mocker. Frumious B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trurl View Post
    I hate to say it but it's true. This does not sound like the sort of thing that would ever see the light of day on a reasonably legitimate label. Even the cover looks homemade.
    But Life, Love & Hope is released on Frontiers, label home of such luminaries as Yes, Asia, Stryper, Whitesnake and Mr. Big. How could this have happened?

    Yahoo Seriously though...there's that GOOD rough and raw that can make your arm hair snap to attention and then there's "late middle aged lawyer type with a guitar who drops a bunch of cash on gear at Guitar Center without the know how or sense to use it properly and then thinks he's some kind of one man band rock star" raw. His wife, kids, friends, acquaintances and those hapless folk who click on a YouTube link for something he's uploaded in glorious mp3 suffer the brunt of the torture: "Hey...Listen to my song." "Oh, erm...That's NICE."

    This "Boston" album sounds a whole lot more like the latter than the former. Yet this guy gave us "Peace of Mind" back in the day. Wow.

  21. #21
    Just got this. Will pop it in the 'ol iTunes and check it out today. I got the disc without knowing anything about the recording/history process of this album. Is Michael Sweet (lead singer of Stryper) only a touring member and not on this release?

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Gruno View Post
    Just got this. Will pop it in the 'ol iTunes and check it out today. I got the disc without knowing anything about the recording/history process of this album. Is Michael Sweet (lead singer of Stryper) only a touring member and not on this release?
    Sweet stopped touring with Boston two years ago and didn't contribute to the new CD.

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    According to the Boston Facebook page, the new album is the #1 selling title at Best Buy.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by JIF View Post
    According to the Boston Facebook page, the new album is the #1 selling title at Best Buy.
    That's probably because there were a lot of pre-orders. I mean, it ranks #53 on Amazon's top 100 in music, but the ratings and reviews leave a lot to be desired. A slim majority hate it.

  25. #25
    Man, this Boston album sucks big time! How can Tom Scholz think that Boston fans, after Ten years of waiting, are going to purchase an album with 4 songs on it that were previously released on the prior album Corporate America? Which sucked too. Nothing from Boston since Third Stage has been any good. Now I fear we will never see anything from Boston worth listening to due to the passing of Brad Delp. I had hope for this album where there was talk of some songs with Brads vocals. Was not expecting 1/3 of the album to be songs that were previously released and re-recorded or re-mixed. I can understand as an artist wanting to perfect a song that you were not quite happy with, but to re-release 4 songs that are from the same previous album. I think he needs a reality check! And to think it only took him 10 years! This album is such a disappointment! It shouldn't even be considered a Boston Album! Tom should do us all a favor and hang up the Boston name and just put out solo albums.
    Last edited by Isilduir; 12-08-2013 at 09:22 PM.

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