Music history: Boston’s debut album turns rock ‘n’ roll into art

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August 25, 1976 is a day many rock fans will remember. A band from Boston with a huge sound and brilliant cover art began to garner fans around the US, and no doubt the world. The band from Boston was called Boston, and so was their debut album. There was no forgetting where these guys were from. With lyrics to rivet emotions, guitars, drums, and keyboards to complete the rock ‘n’ roll band that millions have come to love.

Boston: big sound, big ideas, and universal ideas

Part of Boston’s appeal is that on the debut album, there are songs for almost every mood. One song even captures the band’s origin story. That story is wrapped around heavy, but groovy guitar riffs, and punctuated by drums that seem to pound through speakers. While “Rock & Roll Band” comes in the middle of the 8-song album, it serves to answer the questions some listeners might have, chiefly, “Who are these guys?” and “Where did they come from?”

The album opens with “More Than a Feeling,” which offers different feels. It opens with a moody guitar playing alone, then the other parts fill in. Drums seem to usher in the vocals. This is where millions of people became acquainted with the vocal stylings of Brad Delp. His voice seemed to go from tenor to stratospheric as his emotions required. The song is about a girl who got away. And later in the song when Delp really lets it rip about the girl slipping away, his voice is higher yet powerful.

“Smokin'” is more of a straight ahead rock song. Still, the organ adds a dimension of shine that might sound (for just a moment) like jazz, but the guitars and drums never let listeners forget that this is, in fact, a rock song. There is amazing interplay between guitars and organ that makes Boston sound like a machine that listeners will want to start up over and over.

From songs about avoiding the rat race (“Peace of Mind”), to relationships (“Let Me Take You Home Tonight”) and each song, whether about a mindset or a party, is full of what rock fans have come to appreciate as the sound of Boston.

The eponymous album is worth listening to, on the 46th anniversary of its debut, or anytime a listener wants to appreciate classic rock.

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