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Captain Ed's AOTM July - Boston

Ed Seith

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    Captain Ed’s AOTM for July – Boston



    So my first go-round for album of the month was a bit of a cheater, in that it was a compilation album. That’s okay, it’s where my head was last month and I have no regrets. This month, the album is CONSIDERABLY shorter, but hails from a similar time period, near “peak Bee Gees.” The album is the self-titled debut by BOSTON, released in August 1976. Now, I was only SIX when this album came out, so it would be some years before I heard anything more than just the radio singles from time to time, but it is a vitally important album for a few reasons.

    Boston was the brainchild of MIT graduate and full-time corporate engineer at Polaroid (the instant camera people), Tom Scholz. Scholz was largely doing music as a hobby, but was obsessed with “crafting the perfect song.” His education fueled his desire to advance and perfect recording techniques, eventually leading him to create SRD (Scholz Research & Development), the company responsible for the “Rockman” line of products. The first headphone amp, called the Rockman (a play on Sony’s Walkman line of music players), was what I took off to college with me in the fall of 1988 so I could keep playing guitar without upsetting roommates or others on the dorm floor. His “Octoplus” product allowed for MIDI control of non-MIDI gear, and was a staple of my rig from the early 90s until I got my first modeler, the Pod HD500 in maybe 2010 or so. The Octoplus allowed my MIDI foot controller to change my very non-MIDI amp from clean to dirty channels for my different presets in my effects unit (Roland GP-16).

    Anyway, Tom spent years building a home studio in his basement, writing, recording, and rerecording songs to make them “more perfecter.” This obsession would bite him in the ass later, but for now, it made for compelling music. Tom recruited several local musicians in his contact lists to do things he didn’t feel capable of doing justice to on his own. He brought in Barry Goudreau to play some lead guitar and Bradley Delp for vocals. Delp had a staggering range and an impossibly clean vocal tone and was truly gifted.

    Interestingly, since at the time Boston wasn’t really a “band,” they never played a gig together. Ever up to that point, I think. When Epic records signed them to a record deal, they made it conditional that the band had to perform a showcase, to prove that Boston wasn’t “just a mad scientist in his basement.” Scholz and Delp pulled their friends together and did the show in a warehouse for the record executives. Still technically not a gig.

    And the album has, to date, sold in excess of 25 million copies around the world.

    Listen carefully to the chorus of album opener More than a Feeling, and you might recognize the chord progression from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Peace of Mind is pure hippie anti-corporate talk with Scholz shaking his fist at his bosses at Polaroid, where he still worked full-time until giving his two-week notice shortly before the album went gold.

    Foreplay is a glorious intro to proggy stuff, with a dominating Hammond B3 organ that lets you know that no matter how ahead of its time this album is sonically, it’s writing and performances are firmly rooted in the 1970s. I love the bass tone here. The segue into Long Time features what is probably my very favorite lead guitar tone of all time – it’s just so BUTTER and a try to recreate it all the time, and never get there.

    Rock and Roll Band is “the dream,” going from empty clubs to the World Stage, the fame and the glory and everything. I always thought it was "their story," written after they got signed and were putting the album together, but no - it was written years earlier as a dream. You can hear the frustration of that dream in the line "when we got up on stage and got ready to play, everybody listened." See, when you're starting out and playing shitholes, that's the part that's most disheartening - of the few people that are there in the club, very few are even paying attention to you pouring your heart out. It sucks.

    The back end of the album is a lot more mellow overall, but the songs remain wonderfully crafted and performed. Delp co-wrote Smokin and has sole songwriting on Let Me Take You Home Tonight. Smokin' has a great, open guitar part under the organ solo that makes for great dynamics in the song. Hitch a Ride has a killer outro solo and just - like the rest of the album - staggeringly good melodies and harmonies. Let Me Take You Home Tonight starts mellow and gets pretty rousing, a solid end to the album. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes, this is about how long albums ran back then. More than 45-48 minutes was difficult for machines of the time to press into vinyl.

    Eventually, Sholz was sued (unsuccessfully) by his own record company for taking too long to make records. While the follow-up album “Don’t Look Back” came out just two years later in 1978, Scholz obsession with improving sound engineering delayed the third album, “Third Stage,” until 1986. The 8 year delay was NOT looked on favorably, but Scholz argued that he should be allowed to make the album sound as good as possible, and he won. Later Boston albums sounded quite sterile, as Scholz had realized that the biggest problem with sound quality was microphones, and he worked tirelessly to end the idea of dropping a mic in a room for ANYTHING except vocals. I caught Boston on tour for Third Stage in late 1987 or so. I don’t remember much about it, honestly, but that just means that while they didn’t blow me away, they also didn’t suck.

    Scholz is still tinkering, occasionally releasing a new album, but the fire is gone. Nothing they did since or will do will ever top that first album, a true gem. He also made his mark elsewhere in music, pioneering some recording techniques and equipment and, I believe, creating the first amp modeler, in the Rockman. Unfortunately, singer Brad Delp ran a hose from the tailpipe of his car and killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007. He was 55.

    Give the album a spin and let me know what you think of one of the biggest albums of the 70s. The sounds, the tones, the production, the writing - whatever. Let me have it!

     
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    ari.mac

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    Listen carefully to the chorus of album opener More than a Feeling, and you might recognize the chord progression from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
    @Ed Seith was listening to some tunes on youtube, and found this. The very beginning, immediately thought of what you said! They knew very well 🤣 (at approx 0:30)

     
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    Alicia Willis

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    😍 absolutely adore this one Captain ! One of Dad’s favorites ! Many road trips growing up this bad boy was in the cassette player ! (Image included for all the youngin’s 🤣)
    0A536C55-EDD4-4AD4-99E7-B8BBBCCC1899.jpeg

    Everything off of this is amazing but my personal favorite is “Peace of Mind”
     

    Ed Seith

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    😍 absolutely adore this one Captain ! One of Dad’s favorites ! Many rode trips growing up this bad boy was in the cassette player ! (Image included for all the youngin’s 🤣)
    View attachment 1934
    Everything off of this is amazing but my personal favorite is “Peace of Mind”
    Interesting. Those songs are in a different order!
     
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    Alicia Willis

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    🤔 I wonder why. After your comment I noticed the Spotify album songs are arranged in a totally different order than the old cassette tapes. This is going to aggravate me now lol
    Okay so I did some homework, and from what I gather sometimes cassette tapes were arranged differently to fit the songs “equally” on each side, so that no one side would have too much silence or dead space where a song wouldn’t fit 100% at the end ! Hey !!! I learned something today ! Apparently there’s some Beatles albums on cassette that have wonky orders too and it pisses people off haha.
     

    Ed Seith

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    Okay so I did some homework, and from what I gather sometimes cassette tapes were arranged differently to fit the songs “equally” on each side, so that no one side would have too much silence or dead space where a song wouldn’t fit 100% at the end ! Hey !!! I learned something today ! Apparently there’s some Beatles albums on cassette that have wonky orders too and it pisses people off haha.
    I had a feeling that was it! Thanks for investigating!
     
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    Jesse Salmons

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    Boston is one of those bands that took the world by storm. Everytime i hear the opening chord progression to Peace of Mind it gives me chills. Its seriously a powerhouse of an album with many great hits that are still widely played to this day.

    ed when you talk about that guitar tone you’ve tried to replicate i know how you feel! I feel the same way with Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” that lead guitar tone is just like you described, butter. Something about them 70s/80s bands named after major cities😂
     

    ari.mac

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    Oooook, here we go!!! Finally got time to enjoy this record!!
    What can I say?? loved it! I'll admit I only knew " More than a feeling" because it was featured in an episode of Scrubs (one of the best TV series of all time imho, if you never watched it...to quote Zacky V: "DO IT!"). This song is a total banger!!!! The riff and the vocals: perfection!

    Some of my other favs:

    "Peace of Mind" , the music puts me in such a happy mood and love the solo, but then I took a look at the lyrics, some serious topic that really resonated with me... "Future's coming much too slow, and you wanna run, but somehow you just keep on staying".

    "Foreplay/Long Time", Ed you weren't joking about the lead tone in this, wow I got chills listening to this!! Love the bass too and the lyrics!!

    "Rock and Roll Band", the energy of this track is insane! The vocals are so great, he reaches some serious high notes damn! Love the heavy guitar as well!!!

    "Hitch a Ride" loved the melody and what a solo at the end!!!!!!

    So that was it. I'll be sure to listen more of this great band!!! Thank you Cap for the rec!!!
     
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    Ids Schiere

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    I just took a listen while I'm as going for a walk which basically means I don't know any of the song title except the two I already knew before.

    I already knew smoking and more than I feeling and love them both. Overall, those two give a fairly good impression of the overall album. A lot of good hooks and cool guitar parts on this one. Overall I really enjoyed it, thanks for the rec Ed!
     
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    Captain Ed’s AOTM for July – Boston



    So my first go-round for album of the month was a bit of a cheater, in that it was a compilation album. That’s okay, it’s where my head was last month and I have no regrets. This month, the album is CONSIDERABLY shorter, but hails from a similar time period, near “peak Bee Gees.” The album is the self-titled debut by BOSTON, released in August 1976. Now, I was only SIX when this album came out, so it would be some years before I heard anything more than just the radio singles from time to time, but it is a vitally important album for a few reasons.

    Boston was the brainchild of MIT graduate and full-time corporate engineer at Polaroid (the instant camera people), Tom Scholz. Scholz was largely doing music as a hobby, but was obsessed with “crafting the perfect song.” His education fueled his desire to advance and perfect recording techniques, eventually leading him to create SRD (Scholz Research & Development), the company responsible for the “Rockman” line of products. The first headphone amp, called the Rockman (a play on Sony’s Walkman line of music players), was what I took off to college with me in the fall of 1988 so I could keep playing guitar without upsetting roommates or others on the dorm floor. His “Octoplus” product allowed for MIDI control of non-MIDI gear, and was a staple of my rig from the early 90s until I got my first modeler, the Pod HD500 in maybe 2010 or so. The Octoplus allowed my MIDI foot controller to change my very non-MIDI amp from clean to dirty channels for my different presets in my effects unit (Roland GP-16).

    Anyway, Tom spent years building a home studio in his basement, writing, recording, and rerecording songs to make them “more perfecter.” This obsession would bite him in the ass later, but for now, it made for compelling music. Tom recruited several local musicians in his contact lists to do things he didn’t feel capable of doing justice to on his own. He brought in Barry Goudreau to play some lead guitar and Bradley Delp for vocals. Delp had a staggering range and an impossibly clean vocal tone and was truly gifted.

    Interestingly, since at the time Boston wasn’t really a “band,” they never played a gig together. Ever up to that point, I think. When Epic records signed them to a record deal, they made it conditional that the band had to perform a showcase, to prove that Boston wasn’t “just a mad scientist in his basement.” Scholz and Delp pulled their friends together and did the show in a warehouse for the record executives. Still technically not a gig.

    And the album has, to date, sold in excess of 25 million copies around the world.

    Listen carefully to the chorus of album opener More than a Feeling, and you might recognize the chord progression from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Peace of Mind is pure hippie anti-corporate talk with Scholz shaking his fist at his bosses at Polaroid, where he still worked full-time until giving his two-week notice shortly before the album went gold.

    Foreplay is a glorious intro to proggy stuff, with a dominating Hammond B3 organ that lets you know that no matter how ahead of its time this album is sonically, it’s writing and performances are firmly rooted in the 1970s. I love the bass tone here. The segue into Long Time features what is probably my very favorite lead guitar tone of all time – it’s just so BUTTER and a try to recreate it all the time, and never get there.

    Rock and Roll Band is “the dream,” going from empty clubs to the World Stage, the fame and the glory and everything. I always thought it was "their story," written after they got signed and were putting the album together, but no - it was written years earlier as a dream. You can hear the frustration of that dream in the line "when we got up on stage and got ready to play, everybody listened." See, when you're starting out and playing shitholes, that's the part that's most disheartening - of the few people that are there in the club, very few are even paying attention to you pouring your heart out. It sucks.

    The back end of the album is a lot more mellow overall, but the songs remain wonderfully crafted and performed. Delp co-wrote Smokin and has sole songwriting on Let Me Take You Home Tonight. Smokin' has a great, open guitar part under the organ solo that makes for great dynamics in the song. Hitch a Ride has a killer outro solo and just - like the rest of the album - staggeringly good melodies and harmonies. Let Me Take You Home Tonight starts mellow and gets pretty rousing, a solid end to the album. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes, this is about how long albums ran back then. More than 45-48 minutes was difficult for machines of the time to press into vinyl.

    Eventually, Sholz was sued (unsuccessfully) by his own record company for taking too long to make records. While the follow-up album “Don’t Look Back” came out just two years later in 1978, Scholz obsession with improving sound engineering delayed the third album, “Third Stage,” until 1986. The 8 year delay was NOT looked on favorably, but Scholz argued that he should be allowed to make the album sound as good as possible, and he won. Later Boston albums sounded quite sterile, as Scholz had realized that the biggest problem with sound quality was microphones, and he worked tirelessly to end the idea of dropping a mic in a room for ANYTHING except vocals. I caught Boston on tour for Third Stage in late 1987 or so. I don’t remember much about it, honestly, but that just means that while they didn’t blow me away, they also didn’t suck.

    Scholz is still tinkering, occasionally releasing a new album, but the fire is gone. Nothing they did since or will do will ever top that first album, a true gem. He also made his mark elsewhere in music, pioneering some recording techniques and equipment and, I believe, creating the first amp modeler, in the Rockman. Unfortunately, singer Brad Delp ran a hose from the tailpipe of his car and killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007. He was 55.

    Give the album a spin and let me know what you think of one of the biggest albums of the 70s. The sounds, the tones, the production, the writing - whatever. Let me have it!

    I really like Third Stage, I think its much better than Don't Look Back. Cool post.