Street Sounds: Boston needs more than a feeling

And you will know them by their album cover art — their garish, cheesy cover art that hasn’t changed since 1975, back when bands named themselves after cities.

Eternal classic rockers Boston, led by über-geek wunderkind, guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter/producer Tom Scholz, is still around, having cryogenically frozen themselves into the consciousness of MOR (middle-of-the-road) fans.

Back when the punks and so-called New Wavers wrestled the spirit of rock away from hedonistic virtuosos and “progressive rock” wankers, Boston was a band that symbolized a middle ground – a safe way to crank out the epics.

Scholz and Boston usually take years between releases, pioneering the concept of ultra precision and perfection in production.

Life, Love, & Hope is their sixth album since 1975. As such, it’s a wonder that they represented the ‘70s and high school life to so many. They don’t have much output but the songs endure.  More Than a Feeling, Smokin’, Long Time, etc. can evoke jock rock, Mustangs, hallways and dances in the gym. It’s perennial teenage music that’s morphed into sentimentalism and the appeal of bygone youth, now further transformed into condominium rock.

Boston doesn’t stray from this turf.  Last Day of School on Life, Love & Hope is just an updated version of Foreplay/Longtime, and Heaven on Earth is a 2014 version of 1975’s More Than a Feeling (add Sail Away, Someone and the title song to the list).

Falsetto choruses, fluid harmony-laden guitar lines and crunching chord progressions run all the way through Life, Love and Hope.

They’ve cloned that sound, and wear their recorded history on their sleeves. Also, the word “love” is used in five of the 11 song titles, a useless fact that might be a clue to the band’s style.

So why take a decade between records? Force of habit probably, for perfectionists like Scholz. But in writing the hooks that make you happy, Boston remains the smiley face of ordinary rock.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews new releases for The Morning Star in Street Sounds every Friday.

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