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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: 3338
Language: english

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Boston: Life, Love & Hope
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-12-03 14:11:26
My Score:

As a longtime fan of Boston, Life, Love & Hope is one of those albums that I was really wanting to be pleasantly surprised by. Sadly, other than a few bright spots, I have to say I was more left feeling a bit disappointed. Boston in 2013 has purely become the Tom Scholz show...oh wait, my mistake, it's actually been that way for over 30 years ! You see, Boston isn't so much a band anymore, but an excuse for the talented Mr. Schulz to come out of hiding and make a few bucks. Problem is, I don't know how much money he's going to be making with something like this. It's not bad by any means, but there has to be a way, other than dusting out old leftover vocal performances from the late Brad Delp, as well as assembling a long list of faceless singers, to resurrect the Boston brand. It starts with the songs, and the truth of the matter, those great hard rock & party tunes that Boston were known for are just absent here. "Heaven on Earth" comes close, with those trademark vocal harmonies and ringing guitar riffs, and "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love" is a decent enough power ballad (despite stealing the organ riff from the James Gang classic "Tend My Garden") with a killer vocal from Delp. "Last Day of School" sounds like a quick instrumental from a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album (pretty well done in my opinion), and the title track rocks pretty hard and contains some great harmonies. The rest? Pretty forgettable AOR/melodic rock fare that again, isn't terrible, but it isn't particularly 'Boston-ish' other than Scholz throwing in the occasional church organ flourish or guitar effect. Most of the vocalists do a decent enough job, but not enough to really stand out.

As has been the case with acts like Journey & Foreigner, it is possible to go out and find a singer that will interpret the classic songs just like the original singer and keep the spirit and integrity of the music alive. Tom Schulz just hasn't found a way to do that yet, and it's a shame because Boston could still be a viable touring band once again if he could only find that all elusive singer to step into Delp's shoes and bring this band back to respectability again. Maybe someday, but by then it all might be too late.

Boston: Life, Love & Hope
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-11-21 05:54:27
My Score:

I've taken the unusual decision to include the credits in the track listing below. Not to be arsey because I've long been a fan of Boston but I've seen advertisements for Life, Love & Hope which includes pictures of the "band" which includes the late Brad Delp, the no-longer-in-the band Kimberley Dahme and the apparently-not-on-the-album-at-all bass player Tracy Ferrie. It is more than ever fair to say that Boston is really the Tom Scholz show. It has ever been thus despite some diehards making a case for the importance of Barry Goudreau and the aforementioned Delp.

Of the album, Tom Scholz has said, "These are all songs from the heart, each of them taking many months of effort to write, arrange, perform and record, always up to the demands of BOSTON's harshest critic, me. They have all been meticulously recorded to analogue tape on the same machines and equipment used for Boston's hits for the past 35 years." This is a real gift to critics. Corporate America came out in 2002 and two of the songs on Life, Love & Hope are retreads from there, add in the instrumental "Last Day of School" (much loathed by Steven Reid, sounding like the intro to a Meat Loaf song to me) and there isn't very much new on offer. "Is this all you've got Tom?" I can hear them saying?

Let's be frank, this isn't up there with their classic debut or Walk On (my favourite Boston album) but it's by no means terrible. It just has a mighty heritage against which it will be judged. "Sail Away" which is about Hurricane Katrina features a lovely vocal from Brad Delp and would have fitted nicely onto Walk On or Third Stage. Tommy Decarlo summons up his best Delpisms on the title track overall there's enough on offer to buy with a degree of confidence and I think it's as good as can be expected from the Boston brand in 2013.

Track listing:
"Heaven on Earth"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: David Victor with special guest: Louis St. August
Harmony & Backing Vox: Tom Scholz

"Didn't Mean to Fall in Love"
Written by Tom Scholz, Curly Smith, Janet Minto
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: Brad Delp
Harmony & Backing Vox: Tom Scholz

"Last Day of School"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz

"Sail Away"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: Brad Delp, Kimberley Dahme
Harmony Vox: Brad Delp, Kimberley Dahme, Tom Scholz

"Life, Love, & Hope"
Written by Tom Scholz
Drums, Bass, Organ, Rhythm Guitars: Tom Scholz
Lead guitars: Tom Scholz, Gary Phil
Lead Vocals: Tommy Decarlo
Harmony Vox: Tom Scholz, Jeff Neal

"If You Were in Love"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
All Vocals: Kimberley Dahme

Written by Tom Scholz
All Guitars, Keyboards, Bass, Drums: Tom Scholz
Harmonica: Curly Smith
Lead Vocals: Tommy Decarlo, Tom Scholz with special guest: Jude Nejmanowski
Harmony Vox: Tom Scholz

"Love Got Away"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: Tom Scholz
Harmony Vox: Tom Scholz, Gary Pihl

"You Gave Up on Love (2.0)"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Guitars, keys, bass, and drums: Tom Scholz
Flute: Kimberley Dahme
Lead Vocals: Kimberley Dahme, Tommy Decarlo, Tom Scholz
Harmony Vox: Kimberley Dahme, Tom Scholz, Beth Cohen

"Someone (2.0)"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: Brad Delp
Harmony Vox: Brad Delp, Tom Scholz

"The Way You Look Tonight"
Written by Tom Scholz
All Instruments: Tom Scholz
Lead Vocals: Tommy Decarlo
Harmony Vox: Tom Scholz, David Victor

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