They were just another band out of Boston. That is, until the release of their debut album on August 25th 1976. After that, they were simply known as Boston. Their first single, “More than a Feeling” reached number 5 on the Billboard Charts. With the incredible vocals of lead singer Brad Delp, and the signature “Boston” sound that we would get to know and love, this album stands the test of time. Many of the tracks from this album are still on regular rotation on classic rock radio.
This album was recorded almost entirely in Tom Scholtz’s basement studio, with Scholtz playing every instrument, except drums ( Jim Masdea and Sib Hashian), on every song, except “Let Me Take You Home Tonight”. He used a Scully 8-track and something Scholtz invented called a “Rockman”. The Rockman gives the album that unique sound, giving just the right amount of distortion.
Epic records, who had signed Scholtz and Delp to their recording contract, had wanted the album recorded in a “real” studio in either New York or LA. Scholtz would have nothing to do with that idea. They were able to come to a deal where the tracks would be recorded in Scholtz’s apartment, and the album would be mixed in a studio in LA.
Tracks and Tidbits
More Than a Feeling – This track is about a song taking you back to a special time a place with a special someone. Although not based on a true story, the Marianne in the song is real. She’s an older first cousin of Scholtz’s, whom he had a crush on when he was 10. It peaked at number 5 on Billboards Hot 100. Its included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. VH1 named it 39th best hard rock song of all time. On a personal note, this song is one of my absolute all time favorites.
Peace of mind – The song is about Scholtz’s former co-workers and Scholtz’s lack of desire to climb the corporate ladder while working at Polaroid Corporation. The songs’ message is basically to be happy with what you have, and don’t get caught up in the daily competition to have more than the other guy.
Foreplay/Longtime – In March 1977 Foreplay/longtime peaked at 22 on Billboard’s Hot 100. In Canada, the song reached as high as number 9.
Rock & Roll Band – The lyrics of this song suggest that this was a true story about Boston’s rise to fame. However, this is not the case. Scholtz wrote and recorded the song almost entirely by himself in his basement studio. Tom played all the instruments except drums (Jim Maseda) and lead vocals (Brad Delp). This song was all part of the demo tape that got him signed to a recording contract. Contrary to popular belief, there was no “playing in bars and sleeping in our cars” for these guys. , although this song could be a true story about a lot of bands out there.
Smokin – The original title for this upbeat song was “Shakin”. It’s apparently about having a good time listening to music. However, it has been perceived as being about smoking marijuana. With lines like “keep on tokin” it’s easy to understand why. Also, the song is 4 minutes and 20 seconds long. April 20th (4/20) is the day associated with smoking pot. Maybe there’s a double meaning here.
Hitch a Ride – Although unconfirmed, many feel that this song is about suicide. Ironically, in a sad twist of fate, singer Brad Delp took his own life in 2007.
Something About You – This second to last track from the debut album is about a man falling in love, but having a hard time expressing it.
Let me Take you Home Tonight – It is the only song from this album that Tom Scholtz did not have a part in writing, Brad Delp wrote this song. Also, this is the only song from the album that was not recorded in Tom Scholtz’s studio. It was recorded in Los Angeles with the other members of the band, minus Scholtz.
This album only took 3 weeks to earn a gold record (500,000 sold), and only 3 months to earn platinum album status (1,000,000 sold). It has currently sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Boston held the distinction of being the best-selling debut album of all time in the U.S. for 10 years, before being displaced by Guns N’ Rose’s Appetite for Destruction in 86.
Their follow-up album, which was released in 1978 called “Don’t Look Back“, rode the wave of the first album and went all the way to number 1 in the U.S. With the title track reaching number 4 on the Billboard Charts. Unfortunately, this album would mark the beginning of a long battle with their record company “Epic”. The band felt that this album was incomplete, and was forced to release it anyway.
Their only #1 single would come eight years later with the release of “Amanda” from the “Third Stage ” album. This album was under the recording label of MCA, after Boston won it’s court battle with Epic. Boston would go on to produce 3 more albums after “Third Stage” with limited success.
The success of the debut album rocketed Boston into the stratosphere of rock’s elite in the 70s, making them a household name. The fact that after 40 some years, the album is still getting regular radio airtime, is a credit to its longevity and staying power.
All the best,