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Walk On

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★★★½☆
(81 Reviews)

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  • Boston can lay claim to take the blame – or the credit – for the swathe of stadium rock that washed over America in the late seventies. The release of Boston’s debut album in 1976, paved the way for such bands as Reo Speedwagon, Journey, and Styx, to follow in the masters’ footsteps. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, you cannot fail to admire them for pure musical skill. Boston was the vehicle for Tom Scholz to become the Godfather of Pomp Rock, in his early years better known for his prowess on the basketball pitch. However, he gave up enough of his time trying to make the hoops to score big time on the field of rock `n’ roll.Boston’s debut album sold over 17 million copies and had a top five single with ‘More Than A Feeling’. The second album ‘Don’t Look Back’ was released two years later, sold 7 million copies and had a top thirty hit with the title track of the album. This was followed six years later by Third Stage (1986), which sold 4 million and did not yield a hit single. The next album, the one under scrutiny here, was a further eight years in the making. ‘Walk On’ sold 1 million copies and none of the singles bothered the Billboard top fifty. Does anybody notice a pattern developing here? So, what is ‘Walk On’ like? Well, it’s a bit half and half. If you are a first time buyer of Boston and the magical sound scapes made by Tom Scholz and his team, then you would be better off buying the first album, or at a pinch the Greatest Hits collection, but, as Greatest Hits go, that album’s tracks seemed to have been picked with a pin rather than on merit. `Walk On’ starts off in fine style with a classy slice of Boston. ‘I Need Your Love’ is a good emotional song that catches you off guard as does the first thrashing chords of Tom Scholz’ multi layered guitar. New vocalist Fran Cosmo, a sound-alike for previous vocalist Brad Delp, proves he more than adequately fills those boots. Tom Scholz plays all the instruments needed in the studio, only picking up sidemen to go out on the road. That’s pretty impressive considering the standard of musical skills on display, but no wonder it took him so long between albums. The multi layered guitar tracks alone would of tested the patience of any normal mortal. So maybe it was better that perfectionist Scholz did all his own work, only needing a throat to put on the voices.’Surrender To Me’ is over five minutes of head bangin’ Boston rock, really showing off the guitar orchestra style patented by Scholz. Next is the album’s obligatory power ballad which Fran Cosmo sings with such pathos, the lyrics just have to come from the heart or Fran is just an old ham. This is followed by over twelve minutes of the glorious title track, probably the best thing ever done by Boston (including everything on the first album).Split into four parts, ‘Walk on’ is really just a good old excuse for Tom Scholz to show off his ability on guitar and keyboards, and his feel for writing a good chorus. Part one, ‘Walkin’ By Night’, is a Blitzkrieg power blast on guitar with all the amps turned up to eleven. As Tom Scholz says in the liner notes “Some people take their dog for a walk at night, some people walk their guitar”. Part two brings in the chorus – and plain and simple – it just rocks. The stadium hoards would wait for the opening guitar riff, before going totally ape (album sales may have dropped in the eighties, the very name “Boston” would immediately sell out any arena). Part three, subtitled ‘Get Organ-ized’, is exactly as the title suggests, a frantic workout on keyboards, and suffice to say a Hammond B-3 is a big organ with a big sound. Part four is more of the same from part two, only louder, harder, and longer. It finishes up with a frantic musical orgasm of sound. Well worth the eight year wait between products for the first four tracks, but (there’s always a but) the final three tracks see Scholz and his co-horts totally lose the plot. The three tracks take up fifteen minutes of playing time and leave you with a nasty taste in the ears. Just musical fodder to fill up the album. It sounds like Boston playing music in a similar fashion to paint by numbers, or join the dots. Total dross and a very disappointing end to the album. But (there’s sometimes yet another but) turn the C.D. back to the title track and all is forgiven.In 2004 the pattern continues, ten years after ‘Walk On’, Boston released their next album ‘Corporate America’. So far sales have not reached 1/2 a million. I doubt they bothered releasing a single.Scattered by Mott The DogSettled by Ella Crew

    Posted on January 2, 2010