RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

BOSTON – Life, Love & Hope
Frontiers Records

Rating: B+

Saying the band BOSTON takes a lot of time between albums may win you the Mr. Obvious Award yet every rock critic brings this up every time they write a review of a BOSTON release.  What most don’t ask, however, is why it takes BOSTON so long between albums.  The mastermind behind the music, Tom Scholz, is simply a person who subscribes to the old adage of quality over quantity.  He takes his time.  He does so because he wants his music to be the best it can be before releasing it to the masses.  He does not follow trends, he tends to buck the system, he stays true to his own musical vision and he gets a lot of crap for it. In the world of rock and roll, which is famous for its love of the rebel,  I, for the life of me, can’t figure out why.

There are already haters in Internet land bashing this album BEFORE it has been released.  Dontcha think you should LISTEN to it before you judge it? Again, I just don’t get it.  I suppose some people are never going to get over the fact that “More Than a Feeling” is a great song and they want every BOSTON song to be that same song.  That, I get…the music means something to them and I do subscribe to the adage that there is no harm in looking at a great work of art and being inspired by it to create new works of art.  But no one should want to simply re-create the same work of art.  Tom Scholz refuses to do that.  He loves every song he has written yet he wants to be true to himself and he wants to have artistic integrity.  For one to bash him for refusing to re-write a classic album that is over three decades old is silly.  And it isn’t going to happen.  If you are one of THOSE people then the time has come for you to simply deal with it.  

Okay, time to get off my soap box…enough of that.  Let’s move up to the current day and the new album by BOSTON titled Life, Love & Hope.  Well, this is rather awkward but after all of the scuttlebutt of the previous paragraphs I have to say this…there are moments…entire songs even…that, well, they sure would be at home on those first two BOSTON albums.  In fact, “Heaven on Earth” is the most BOSTON sounding BOSTON song since the glory days.  This sucker rocks hard and is as addictive as “Don’t Look Back.”  Scholz also shines the classic BOSTON sound on the instrumental “Last Day of School” and the title track as well.  Tom is, as usual, multi-dimensional, however, and he mixes things up as the album continues.  “Sail Away” is a powerful tune that is politically charged and “Someday” is a song that tackles the problem in American schools caused by bullying.  The classic sound is there, at times, yet this one is diverse when listened to from start to finish.

Scholz took the Lead Vocal by Committee approach on this sucker, even stepping up to the microphone for a lead vocal for the first time in his career on album.  Elsewhere the album features lead vocals from Brad Delp, Tommy DeCarlo, Kimberley Dahme and David Victor.  There are a few tunes you will notice from the tracklisting below that have 2.0 in the song title.  The naysayer will shout that Scholz is selling us short by rehashing old songs yet this writer views it as Tom getting it right this time, as each remade version sounds much stronger than its original release.  And if BOSTON was just trying to rehash tunes don’t ya think they would re-record their big hits instead of lesser known album cuts?  Once again, Mr. S will not rest until things are as they should be in his heart, mind and soul and here he simply takes the original and gives it an upgrade.

The bottom line here is that this is a damn good rock record filled with plenty of hooks, melodies and harmonies to keep the BOSTON flag flying high for many more years to come.  Maybe we could have used a few more guitar solos here and there, but with tunes as good as “Heaven on Earth” and “Life, Love & Hope,” we will forgive him and simply choose to crank them up as is.  

Heaven on Earth; Didn't Mean to Fall in Love; Last Day of School; Sail Away; Life, Love & Hope; If You Were in Love; Someday; Love Got Away; Someone (2.0); You Gave Up on Love (2.0); The Way You Look Tonight.

By Jeb Wright