From the first chords of “Heaven on Earth,” it is immediately recognizable that this song comes from a Boston album.
It’s not because of the amazing vocal harmonies, the freight train powered guitar riffs, lyrically moving songs or the atmospheric soaring guitar solos. Sure, those are the components of the songs on the album but that’s not what makes Life, Love & Hope a Boston album.
You see, what makes a Boston album a Boston album is very much what makes a Mercedes-Benz a Mercedes Benz.
When a person purchases a Mercedes-Benz E Class, S Class or any model for that matter, they’re not just buying a steering wheel, seats, the metal frame or the engine but they are buying the entire package. A package sealed with the star emblem on the hood that lets it be known to the world the vehicle meets the standard of Mercedes.
With the star on the hood, that seal, a client is not just buying a car, they’re buying innovation dating back to 1886. They’re buying into the leading auto manufacturer of performance and safety. They are getting over 80,000 patented inventions with their purchase. They’re buying a level of quality in a class of its own.
So is the same when you purchase a Boston album. You’re not buying a corporate rock album conceived and packaged by men in business suits who care more about the bottom line than the track listing. (I should note that I don’t know if Tom Scholz wears suits while recording his albums but you get my drift).
This album is the materialization of a man’s passion. It’s a man’s dream brought into reality. In fact, it’s the very essences of the creator because music is the expression of the human soul.
The creator is Tom Scholz. A man who strives to create art of unparalleled quality not to appease outside forces but to satisfy the art itself so that it may be deemed worthy to bear the gold lettering of the Boston name just as a Mercedes bears the silver star.
This album wasn’t tampered with by profit driven pens but sculpted by artistic hands. In doing so, Scholz devoted eleven years of his life to this art.
The investment of his life into this project is extraordinary. I purchased the album for $11.99 at Best Buy. When divided out by the eleven years he worked on the project, it comes to $1.09 a year.
Scholz made this album because he had a vision for his work, that the work, through passion, would become art. When art is created, it takes on a life of its own. It’s an organic substance that can reach out and touch the lives of others. It saves, inspires and heals. That’s what drove Scholz. That’s what made this album.
Not only was it his time that Scholz invested but it was his heart and soul. As I mentioned earlier, music is the expression of the human soul. Scholz shared his inner being. The notes of the instruments carry on where the lyrics leave off. There’s love in this album. You can feel it. Both for it and shared through it.
I see Scholz at the music industry’s Howard Roark, the fictional architect in Ayn Rand’s best seller The Fountainhead.
Scholz, just like Roark, was a man of uncompromising determination. Scholz’s music belongs to him just as Roark’s building designs belonged to him and no man has a right to trifle with the work of another man. Scholz did things his way and still does such as recording on analog equipment because he believes it to be the better sound over digital.
According the notes listed in their CD package of their debut album, when the record label wanted Scholz to re-record all his demos for the debut album in a professional recording studio, Scholz countered back by sending the rest of his new found band mates to Los Angeles to record one track with co-producer John Boylan while he worked on the masters in his basement studio.
The record label thought they were recording the album when really Scholz was working on it in his basement studio. It was a Roark move by an independent man and it paid off.
According to an article by Alan Di Perna in the March issue of Guitar Magazine, Scholz explained that the record label didn’t believe Boston’s debut album would sell because it wasn’t main stream enough. The critics said the same about Roark’s building designs and insisted he make them more classical in nature in order to be accepted.
Both proved contemporaries and critics wrong. Scholz’s debut album became the highest selling debut album of its time and Roark when on to construct the world’s tallest building.
The similarities continue. The two men fight for their art and the dedication that went into it even if that means challenging their respective industry in the court of law. Interestingly enough, both parties fought in court and won leaving the life of the work protected.
In the end, the work was completed according to the vision of the artist. That’s what you purchase when you pick up Life, Love & Hope that bears the gold letter seal. The meaning goes beyond the packaging. It’s the devotion, passion, level of quality and manner of creation that is purchase. Listen to the album from start to finish and you’ll hear these reflected in the music. How could you not, it’s a Boston album. It’s Life, Love & Hope.
No synthesizers were listened to while writing this review.