Below is a letter from Tom Scholz posted on Boston.org regarding the remastering of this album and the follow-up, Don’t Look Back, but before I get to that I have a few comments.
I have loved this album since it’s debut in 1976 and I have always felt that the last song “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” sounded different from the other songs and now the liner notes of the remastered “Boston” verify that belief. On all of the other songs, with few exceptions, Tom Scholz played all instruments except drums. Barry played a lead here and Fran played a bass there, but that is about it. That is, except for “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” where Tom only played the organ. I mention this because I remember folks complaining about “Third Stage” and “Walk On” stating that they could tell a difference between these latter albums, which noted Tom as the player of most of the instruments, and the earlier ones where Boston was “a band.” Little did they know that it was the same method.
A letter from Tom Scholz regarding the newly remastered Debut album and Don’t Look Back!
What the Deuce IS UP With Boston?
My apologies to you all for the unintentional silence about Boston activities and plans, especially concerning a reissue of the first two Boston albums. Oddly enough I was just beginning a letter like this, when that topic jumped onto my computer, forcing me to drop everything, including communicating with all of you.
So now you know I do see postings on these sites! Not all of them, but enough to know your collective feelings about Boston, and btw, thank you.
Even though half of what I read is dead wrong and the other half I disagree with (you knew I was hard to please…), it’s really gratifying to know that so many people appreciate this music and the message behind it. Those of you who just write to say encouraging things, please believe that you have saved me from giving up many times!
So, after the 2004 Boston tour ended, I set about recording some new material. Some of it sounds more like old Boston, some sounds more like later albums, all of it has me excited. Unfortunately I was hampered from working effectively in the studio by complications from a back injury in 2003.
It seems I may have been the victim of something my doctor referred to as acetaminophen poisoning. I used Tylenol regularly on and off the tours for some time, and as I have since read about, this apparently may have wreaked havoc with the health of some important organs. No, I don’t mean the Hammond or the pipe organ, I mean mine.
Fortunately I’m now doing much better and back to full strength, and full speed in the studio…OK, I know what you’re thinking, just keep it to yourself!
I had to hold up recording for a couple of weeks last year for some overdue studio repairs; three months later I was nearly finished soldering, drilling, and banging when I discovered the announced Sony Legacy Boston reissue on line. (Funny how ex-band members who haven’t played in Boston for 25 years knew about these plans ahead of time…) I was mildly surprised to find out that two albums embodying all of my writing, performing, producing and engineering work from the 70’s had been “remastered” by someone I didn’t know, with added live recordings mixed by someone else I didn’t know, and I hadn’t even heard it! When I finally did hear it, I wished I hadn’t.
Although I got used to getting screwed royally by business types in the music world, the audacity of this particularly inconsiderate liberty with my art got my attention very quickly.
Although I was pretty sure there had been a violation of my rights using the name Boston for this abomination, I decided to try the diplomatic, peaceful approach, averting another war and creating something really valuable in the process: A comprehensive remastering of the two oldest albums to bring the old mixes up to the standards of 21st century recordings.
Fortunately my real manager did a great job of quickly getting Legacy to see my point of view, and change their plans.
Now I know there are those of you who would go out and spend good money (oxymoron) for anything that says “new unreleased Boston,” but before you go off on me for committing new releasus interuptus, I want you to know you owe me BIG TIME! The so called new material consisted of two Philly KBFH (despite what you may have read elsewhere) not-our-best-night renditions of Smokin’ and FPLY/LT, plus a trashy discard I used to toss in on the first tour ’cause we didn’t have enough music for a full set! They didn’t even have the name right!
These “bonus” track mixes were obviously not made by Boston. Hearing the huge stereo Boston mix style suddenly disappear when the live cuts started was a little scary (even our live sound is carefully mixed in wide stereo, as most of you know first hand). But the real kicker was a technical problem with Brad’s vocal track that showed up as a very distracting constant, weird phasing.
And that wasn’t the worst part: the studio recordings were just transfers to digital using the same EQ moves I prescribed for mastering them 30 years ago when everything had to be done manually, and not very precisely by modern standards. Not only could I hear no improvement, the overly hot sibilant portions that were listenable on vinyl and tape were now nails-on-blackboard piercing. Anyway, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I didn’t like it.
One good thing though, thinking about live Boston made me realize I have to dig out some tapes and put together some high quality mixes of our tour arrangements; some of them were totally cool. Dude.
So, we got Sony to retransfer from the original stereo analogue mix tapes (not the EQ’d 2nd gen copy companies tend to use) to 24 bit digital, and went to work in Protools going over every second of those mixes til we were nearly batty. It took Bill Ryan and me eight straight LONG days of work, which btw was precisely when I was supposed to be in the FL Keys celebrating my birthday. Finally we made the final adjustments with Toby Mountain at Northeastern Digital, then I joined Kim Hart and Gary Pihl working on the photos and booklet layout revisions. I think you’ll like the new pics.
Somewhere in between I wrote a little bit about the famous demo and the making of the first album I call “Make Extra Money Working at Home in Your Own Basement,” and also clarified and expanded the credits sections. David Wild of Rolling Stone fame also wrote an excellent piece from a fan’s perspective for each album.
But the exciting story is what you’re going to hear when you put this CD in your player. The difference is amazing to me. The guitars jump out of the speakers on those power chords, Brad’s voice is full and warm in the mix like it should have been, the bass is tight and now you not only hear it, you feel it! I never liked these old mixes on 16 bit CD; now they sound great.
Hopefully most of you will listen to this directly from the CD, not an MP3! Don’t get me started….Now exactly when that will be possible via actual release Sony is not saying, but they were in enough of a hurry to ruin my b-day vacation, so presumably it will be very soon. Most recent rumor: mid May.
Btw, lest you think I’m trumpeting here to get sales up, be assured Brad and I don’t get treated any better financially from this than we did form the original release. You don’t think that just because we wrote it, performed most of the tracks, and produced it we get most of the money do you?
But it was worth taking the time for this. I’ve always wanted to make those albums sound good on CD, and the chance arrived. It’s good to work on your birthday.