On Second Thought: Boston – Life, Love & Hope (2013)

The incredible perfection showcased on Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut album astonished fans, as well as most music critics. The songwriting of the highest quality, and the playing technique of Tom Scholz was from another planet. At that time, Boston was the fastest-selling debut of all time.

Unfortunately, an eternity would pass between each new album after the follow up — owing, of course, to Scholz’s obsession with perfection. Boston’s last album came out in 2002, and five years later tragedy struck with the suicide of singer Brad Delp. That seemed, at least back then, to be the end of things. But Scholz apparently has been working on Life, Love & Hope since 2003, more proof of his meticulous style of working. The vocals are now shared by Tommy DeCarlo, Kimberley Dahme, David Victor and Tom Scholz, with some leftovers and remastered takes from existing recordings by the late Delp.

Given all that’s happened, can you even speak of Boston as a band anymore? In this case, the answer is a very clear no. Nothing fits together on Life, Love & Hope; everything sounds like a composite jigsaw puzzle from their old albums. “Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love,” one of the cuts featuring Delp, is actually a completely unnecessary remake of a song that was orginally on Boston’s most recent project, Corporate America.

Then, there’s an instrumental called “Last Day Of School” — which, thank God, only lasts 2:02 minutes, otherwise the damage would have been worse. Whatever drove the perfectionist in Scholz to issue Life, Love & Hope, it certainly wasn’t saving the reputation of a legendary band. “Love Got Away” and “Someday” are songs that Scholz wouldn’t have used for a B-sides back in the band’s hey day. There are precious few times, as on the Delp-sung “Sail Away,” where Scholz approaches the class of Boston’s former days. Actually, one wishes Scholz would have taken another ten years of time — and then maybe a decent album would have seen the light of the day.

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Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.