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.