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Boston: Life, Love & Hope

We all know that Boston leader Tom Scholz is a perfectionist and therefore far from prolific. However considering that his band's previous release in 2002, Corporate America, was a severe disappointment and its predecessor Walk On, from 1994, not much better, amazingly it has now been a ridiculous twenty seven years, yes that's 27, since Boston released anything of real note. Admittedly what did come before, Boston (1976), Don't Look Back (1978) and Third Stage (1986) vary from being fantastic to stone cold classics, so even over the best part of three decades, any band with that track record can be forgiven two dips in form. However, with another lengthy wait for Life, Love & Hope, it does mean that something rather special is required to redress the balance somewhat. Unfortunately, LL&H is not something special and truth be told it really falls frighteningly far from that accolade.

Much has changed for Boston since Corporate America, with the tragic death of the band's much loved singer Brad Delp obviously being the most noted, with much fallout (rightly or wrongly) coming Scholz's way in the aftermath. Admittedly Delp didn't actually feature on Walk On, but he returned to share vocals with his replacement Fran Cosmo for CA (Cosmo is nowhere to be heard on this album). However in a twist that could be seen, depending on your viewpoint, as bad taste or fitting tribute, Delp posthumously takes lead on three tracks here. The first, "Didn't Mean To Fall In Love", is simply a re-mastered version of a song from Corporate America. However recapturing former glories is like trying to ensnare lightning in a bottle and even with the same vintage equipment used, the laboured guitars, twee handclaps and a simply awful high hat and snare sound negate any work done at the vocal mic, hence the second track to feature Delp, "Someone (2.0)", one of two rearranged and rerecorded tracks also from Corporate America, neither of which fare any better the second time round, also suffers badly. While "Sail On" to be fair is one of the few more memorable moments, the slow repeated chorus line sticking in the memory immediately. The other and in fact main highlight opens the album, "Heaven And Earth" getting as close as this effort ever does to finding the perfect Bostonian recipe for success.

The rest of the album sees a collection of singers turn in decent if uninspiring performances, Kimberley Dahme joining with Tommy Decarlo and Scholz himself on "You Gave Up On Love (2.0)", without great success, Dahme especially sounding out of place; the trio all suffering the same fate as they handle solo leads elsewhere. While guest contributors Jeff Neal and Jude Nejmanowski also fail to inject much needed enthusiasm.

A simply awful instrumental, "Last Day At School", which was first performed on a huge pipe organ at Boston's Symphony Hall for MIT's 150th anniversary, may have worked wonderfully in that setting. Here however it sounds like the sort of piped Christmas muzak stores play when they don't want to pay performance rites... Add to that a messy "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Love Got Away", which are heartfelt I'm sure, but simply fail to convey the emotion behind them due to the excruciating production and drum sounds, and really it becomes just too difficult to raise any enthusiasm for this release.

I take no great pleasure in saying it, after all Boston were genuinely part of the soundtrack we all grew up to, but Life, Love & Hope can be seen as little more than another and possibly last attempt to revive a band who have appeared a lost cause for a very long time now. Whichever way you look at it, that's very sad indeed....

Track Listing
1. Heaven on Earth
2. Didn't Mean to Fall in Love
3. Last Day of School
4. Sail Away
5. Life Love and Hope
6. If You Were in Love
7. Someday
8. Love Got Away
9. Someone (2.0)
10. You Gave Up on Love (2.0)
11. The Way You Look Tonight

Added: December 3rd 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Boston Online
Hits: 3445
Language: english

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