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Boston had such a spectacular launch into pop music beginning with their self-titled debut album that they’ve set a high standard for themselves to live up to. Their 2nd and 3rd albums, although still very good, were each a cut below the previous album. The 1994 release “Walk On” was arguably as good as “Third Stage”, but alas, “Corporate America” resumes the slide. It’s not horrible; it’s just not that good. The attempt to diversify and contemporize the band’s sound doesn’t work because the songs are largely mediocre. In a nutshell, no hooks. Kimberly Dahme does have a very nice voice, and she certainly adds eye-candy to the group, but she’s a country vocalist. Nothing wrong with country, but it’s not why you buy a Boston album. The overall production values are still outstanding, but who cares when the songs are largely forgettable? Maybe Brad Delp’s voice isn’t quite what it used to be, but that’s no excuse for hiding it behind a lot of heavy instrumentation and group singing/harmony. Die-hard Boston fans will probably buy it; as I said, it’s not horrible. It’s just not Boston.
Why is it that after almost thirty years of being a stubborn, non-inclusive musical dictator, whose uncompromising pursuit of unique harmony and melody resulted in two masterpieces, Scholtz has suddenly decided to be a team player? Moreover, a team player that has given up way too much creative control (or lost control). There is exactly ONE song on this CD that sounds like a natural, modern progression of the Boston sound: I Had a Good Time. The rest of the CD is someone else’s music.
Underneath all of the miscellaneous goop on the CD is the real Tom Scholtz trying to be heard. Maybe he has been taken hostage? Or maybe he has been drugged and brain-washed? Or maybe……just maybe….he actually NEEDS THE REST OF THE ORIGINAL BAND !!!!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for Scholtz’s past achievements. It is his original technical manipulation of sound and his musical formula that made most of us Boston fans for life. However, if Scholtz is going to totally ignore these two important and defining elements, then he has placed himself back into the ranks of the average and the un-noticeable. A conductor isn’t worth much without his orchestra, and let’s face it: Tom has driven off most of his orchestra over the years. Maybe he should have given the original members of Boston as much creative input as he has with his current group of employees.
I read a recent interview in which Scholtz stated that he really fought the instinct to create songs in the same way as he did in the past. BAD IDEA ! Tom, GO WITH YOUR INSTINCTS !
I’ll bet if Barry Goudreau was involved today, many of us wouldn’t be bad mouthing the last two Boston projects. In fact, people think Tom was the mastermind behind the first two albums. However, the Don’t Look Back album contains more Goudreau influence than Scholtz. Scholtz himself gives credit to Barry for coming up with the intros and leads for Don’t Look Back and Long Time (two of my favorite Boston songs).
Of course, Boston wouldn’t even be an entity today if not for the continued presence of Brad Delp (no matter how subdued his role has become). I went to a Corporate America concert two years ago, and I can assure you it wasn’t to hear Corporate America. I wanted to hear old Boston tunes played by Scholtz and sung by Delp.
Bottom line, repair some broken bridges, Tom, and make a REAL MODERN VERSION OF A BOSTON CD. For examples of how to do this, listen to Barry Goudreau / Brad Delp albums from the past : RTZ, Orion The Hunter, Barry Goudreau’s solo album.
Please, Tom, STOP THE MADNESS !! We are all getting too old to wait for the real deal. Poor sales are a result of a disappointed fan base consisting of older / wiser adults, not bad marketing.
P.S. GIVE BARRY GOUDREAU A CALL OR DROP HIM AN E-MAIL AT http://WWW.BARRYGOUDREAU.COM
P.P.S Stop trying to phase out Brad. He’s all that remains between you and obscurity.
Only about 5 songs on this album sound like Boston. The rest are a mix of Def Leppard, Green Day, and Carly Simon. I think all the songs on the album are very good, but I really really wanted a new Boston album that sounded like a Boston album. I only got half of one, and then a “mix-tape” with some other songs that are pretty good. I am therefore disappointed. The Boston sounding songs are great, and I want more of them! That full Boston sound with screaming guitars, super vocals, and flying keyboards is what I like about Boston. Leave the other stuff for a spin-off solo project!
Tom Scholz is a tremendous talent. He is a brilliant songwriter, guitarist, and engineer. No doubt the development of the Rockman shows he is a genius as well.
He is also the quintessential perfectionist. He may very well be the George Lucas of the music industry. The difference is while the world has been patient with Lucas’s contant revisions and delays while he gets it “just right”, they haven’t been so forgiving of Tom.
A short history:
1976 – The first album, Boston, is released
1978 – The second album, Don’t Look Back, is pried from Scholz’s fingers and released before he is ready.
1986 – After an eight year drought, Third Stage is released. Scholz was ready, perhaps the world was as well, as it did sell, though nowhere near the numbers of the first two albums.
1994 – Another eight years have passed and the fourth album “Walk On” is released. Response to the album is lukewarm.
1997 – Greatest Hits is released.
2002 – Corporate America, the fifth “originals” album is released on an independent label, no surprise considering Tom’s disdain for the world of big business. Public response is cool.
I have long made it a practice to take Boston’s liner notes with a grain of salt. OK, so Tom is a vegetarian and actively supports animal rights. That’s his perogitive. Now he has a song and album title that show the disdain he holds for the large corporations of the world… including no doubt the ones that gave him a job out of college and the ones that gave him the recording contracts that allowed him to get his music in front of us.
What’s so sad to me is this time, Tom has done the album 100% his way… no corporate bigwigs pushing him to release, and no creative differences with other bandmates. I would think, considering the great talent that he is, that this should be his best work.
Sadly, it isn’t. The album has its strong points. “I Had A Good Time” is a good reminder of the earlier songs that made Boston a household name. “You Gave Up on Love” is a good one too. I love the heavy bass at the beginning of “Corporate America,” but that disappears after the first verse and the rest is a digital liner note of Tom’s loathing of evil mega-companies.
I could have done without the Cosmo compositions… they weren’t horrible, but they aren’t what I bought the album for.
I was truly unprepared for Kimberley Dahme and “With You.” I thought when the song began that something horrible had happened to my cd-changer and somehow a “Jewel” Cd had gotten into the mix. Then I thought perhaps a serious mistake had occurred and that we got a track from one of Artemis Records’ struggling artists dropped into the middle of the CD. Then I referenced the CD case again and realized, “ohmygosh, they did this to us on purpose”! I must admit, I’ve never made it more than about 60 seconds into this track.
The entire album plays like a compilation album… gone is the constency of theme and concept, gone are the heavy rockers. What we are left with is little better than those various artists “made for charity” special editions one often finds on the counter at your local record shop.
I would rate this as the worst Scholz offering to date. And that’s sad, because I love the first two albums, and I was happy to see Third Stage.
I think Tom needs the stress of corporation breathing down his back to produce a good album that the fans will once again appreciate.