Tuesday, 18 April 2017

"Don't Look Back" by BOSTON (July 2006 Epic/Legacy CD Reissue - Tom Scholz, Bill Ryan and Toby Mountain Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Take A Chance On Rock 'n' Roll..."

17 million Americans and gazillions more worldwide devoured the August 1976 debut of the "More Than A Feeling" LP. "Boston" by BOSTON on Epic JE 34188 was a monster that had Rock legs stretching over a year and more (it was released December 1976 in the UK on Epic S EPC 81611 and proved just as popular there). The pressure to deliver spaceship-guitar juggernaut No. 2 was immense and Boston took two years before they popped out "Don't Look Back" in August 1978. Despite mixed reviews and some very vocal fan disappointment - initially it garnished humungous sales eventually amassing over seven million units sold – the kind of chart statistics most other groups would nobble dear old Granny Mae for.

But its transition to CD has been strange and piecemeal. With a staggering four million-plus album sales in the first month alone – Boston’s second platter was always going to be a contender for ‘first release’ on the new fangled format. But the early 80s issues were released haphazard, withdrawn, never properly annotated etc and an overly expensive Mastersound Gold CD has been deleted years - leaving a decades-long big fat remastering audio hole in a very big catalogue title.

Well here comes the inevitable definitive CD Remaster - done in 2006 by Band founder member and Lead guitarist Tom Scholz. And like its illustrious self-titled predecessor (also released 2006) – "Don’t Look Back" lacks any musical extras but is not surprisingly a sonic doozy of amazing density. Here are the feelin’ satisfied details...

UK released 10 July 2006 – "Don’t Look Back" by BOSTON on Epic/Legacy 82876822412 (Barcode 828768224120) comes in card digipak packaging with a newly updated 12-page booklet. It's peddled as a 'Collector's Limited Edition' but it's widely available for sale and at a pittance of a price too (37:44 minutes). 

It was then reissued March 2008 on Epic/Legacy 88697184012 (Barcode 886971840124) in a standard jewel case with the same 2006 Remaster, new booklet and photo of the spaceship beneath the see-through CD tray.

The updated liner notes by uber-fan DAVID WILD feature new interviews with band leader and producer TOM SCHOLZ that elaborate on the anxious wait by the public and record label for the album – the hours in his homemade studio basement – the pile-em-high guitar layers – the press’ muted response – perfectionist Scholz’s own ambivalence to the record (he felt it was rushed and too short) and so on. There are various colour period photos of the boys on stage – in the studio – Scholz at a huge church organ and the usual reissue credits. Scholz has returned to the tapes with BILL RYAN and TOBY MOUNTAIN and done an exhaustive and painstaking remaster - the results are HUGE with a capitol 'H'. It's a fantastic listen...

1. Don’t Look Back [Side 1]
2. The Journey
3. It’s Easy
4. A Man I’ll Never Be
5. Feelin’ Satisfied [Side 2]
6. Party
7. Used To Bad News
8. Don’t Be Afraid
Tracks 1 to 8 are their second studio album "Don’t Look Back" – released August 1978 in the USA on Epic FE 35050 and August 1978 in the UK on Epic S EPC 86057. Produced by TOM SCHOLZ – it peaked at No. 1 in the USA and No. 9 in the UK.

BRAD DELPH – Lead and Harmony Vocals on all songs
TOM SCHOLZ – Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Organ (on all songs)
BARRY GOUDREAU – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
SIB HASHIAN - Drums on all (except "The Journey" where all instruments are Tom Scholz)

Rumour has it that "Arrival" was to be the album's name but on hearing ABBA had an album of the same name - the opening track "Don't Look Back" was chosen as the moniker. That signature guitar sound of theirs kicks in with a wallop. To give you an idea of the complexity we're dealing with here - Brad Goudreau handled the 'virtuoso intro, ending leads and slide' while Tom Scholz did the Chorus and Middle Leads. The interlude instrumental "The Journey" features TS on all instruments and was an obvious ape of the very popular "Foreplay" instrumental that leads into the rocking "Long Time" on the debut LP. Here it segues into another chipper rocker "it's Easy" - again with the huge guitars. I'm never a man for big hairy-rocker ballads - but this time around the near seven-minutes of "A Man I'll Never Be" is far more impressive than I remember it.

But its Side 2 that offers more of what I want. The opening one-two sucker punch of "Feelin' Satisfied" and especially the fantastic little boogie number "Party" are up there with the best of the first album - let's get together honey - it's alright indeed. Brad Delph contributed the musically upbeat "Used To Bad News" that Scholz turns into a Boston song with clever organ melody lines. It ends on the huge rocker "Don't Be Afraid" where layers of guitars and vocals assault your ears in a song that's actually just a little too busy.

Always seen as a poor man's cousin to the spectacular "Boston" debut of 1976 - re-listening to "Don’t Look Back" in 2017 – it's easy to hear why this kind of Rock caught the attention and hearts of millions even if it was perceived at the time as being a bit of a let down. But I'd argue that "Don't Look Back" is way better than that and this superb remaster finally does that second-time around feeling more than proud. As the singer says - take a chance on Rock 'n' Roll...

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