Saturday, August 10, 2013

Boston - Don't Look Back

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday.

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Don't Look Back, the second studio album from Boston. Following on the heels of their smash self-titled debut (click here for that review) from 1976, this 1978 album charted at number 17 in New Zealand, number 13 in France, number 9 in Norway and the UK, number 8 in Sweden, number 6 in Switzerland, and number 1 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 200.

The line-up for the band included Brad Delp (lead and harmony vocals), Sib Hashian (drums and percussion), Barry Gourdreau (lead guitar, slide guitar and rhythm guitar), Tom Scholz (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, organs, piano and percussion) and Fran Sheehan (bass and percussion). Scholz wrote six of the eight tracks, Delp wrote one, and the two co-wrote one together.

Side one begins with blazing guitar riffs of the title track. "Don't Look Back", released as the first single, charted at number 51 in Australia, number 43 in the UK, number 14 in the Netherlands, number 6 in Canada and number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The lyrics, sung with the band’s trademark vocal harmonies, focus on the road ahead and a better, brighter future.

Next up is an instrumental interlude entitled "The Journey". The minute and three quarters piece, with lofty organ and sweeping guitar, was the B-side of the first single. On the album, it bridges the first and third tracks seamlessly.

"It's Easy" picks up the pace with a message about diving into something unfamiliar and taking it day by day.

The second single "A Man I'll Never Be" peaked at number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 27 in Canada. This introspective, sensitive ballad has a strong piano foundation at the start before moving into the bigger, bolder sound that the band was known for.

Side two starts with the high energy rocking "Feelin' Satisfied". As the third and final single, this celebratory party song went to number 84 in Canada and number 46 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

"Party" was the track Scholz and Delp wrote together. Don’t let the slower opening fool you as this one rocks as well.

The B-side to the third single was the Delp penned "Used to Bad News". This one has resigned to accept life from a pessimistic view-point.

The closing track "Don't Be Afraid" was released also as the B-side to the second single.

Some speculate that the artist for the Atari 2600 Space Invaders video game packaging from 1980 took inspiration from this album’s cover art. Google it and form your own opinion. Me personally, as a huge gamer geek who owned that one, I can see a lot of similarities.

My earliest exposure to Don't Look Back was during those final years of the 70's - from both my older brother (who owned it on vinyl) and the album-oriented rock station we listened to out of Buffalo, NY. The tracks that stuck with me over the years were the singles mostly. I added a copy of the complete album to my digital music library about four years ago; I think it is a decent follow-up to the mega-hit Boston debut.


HERC said...

Still searching for this mythical Billboard Hot 200 you keep referring to;)

Since I don't have an older sibling and my Dad didn't get into Boston's music until much later in his life (though he now claims he has always liked them - ha!), I picked up the sounds of Scholz and company from the proverbial streets; the very same streets where I learned all about the birds & the bees (birds peck, bees sting) and how to properly fold a dinner napkin.

Won the first two Boston albums and a few others in seventh grade in a school-wide trivia contest. Now, almost 25 years later, I have three different vinyl copies of their first album, two different copies of Don't Look Back and four different copies of each album on CD. To this day, I prefer to listen to those first two albums either back to back or with their tracks on shuffle.

Bought their next two albums but they didn't come close to that initial burst of creativity although are some great headphone segues lurking on both Third Stage and Walk On.

Had all but given up on new music from Boston until I found the Corporate America disc from 2002 and listened to the first track - "I Had A Good Time". The song has a simple yet effective guitar hook, an atypical understated solo and that thick, shiny Brad Delp vocal sound on nostalgic, positive lyrics as well as a sneaky false ending. Sounds like it was unearthed from a time capsule that had been buried for 25 years. The rest of the album is actually kind of lame so if you haven't already picked up the Boston's Greatest Hits disc yet, look for the 2008 version with this song as the first track instead of the earlier 1997 version, which has "Tell Me" in the pole position.

Corporate America somehow made it to #42 on the Billboard Hot 200[!] but the single failed to chart. Scholz, of course, sued his new label, Artemis.

Listen to "I Had A Good Time" on YouTube

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, as always, thank you for your comments and additional information. They are always appreciated.