109 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
I gave it three stars instead of two because of the guitars. It's not a bad album, it's not bad music, but I miss the Boston I grew up with and it seems that these are mostly love songs that Journey and Air Supply might write if they got together. Where's the energy of Don't Look Back, the rock of Smokin', the balls of Rock and Roll Band? The band sounds great but the songs don't rock for me. I thought a couple of songs we're going to take me there, but alas, it wasn't to be. Good music, not great rock and roll.
106 of 122 people found the following review helpful
I will say that this hurts me to write this review. I have been a Boston fan since I was a kid, listening to my older brother's cassettes of Boston-Boston and Don't Look Back until they began to wear out. I have seen them live in concert (4 times in total) during the Delp era and after with Sweet and DeCarlo and with the various musicians that have filled the live in concert spots (some better than others). People seem to throw out masterpiece and classic a lot these days when it comes to their favorite bands and albums but Boston's first album was one that is Rock Hall worthy with its awesome guitars and rock sound that influenced rock musicians for decades after. Unfortunately for us fans, Scholz has been notoriously difficult to get along with, fighting with the labels and with band mates.
And through all that, the wait has gotten longer and longer for us eager fans hoping that a new album would come out. I liked 3rd Stage, Walk On, and even Corporate America, even though I didn't think they reached to the heights of that first Boston album, a tough feat in even the best of circumstances.
After hearing that Boston had been working on some new material prior to Delp's death, the fan in me hoped again that Boston would rise out of the ashes and bring something great. And even after the passing of Brad and hearing DeCarlo's ability to sound a bit like him, I continued to hope that with a mix of some of the tracks that Delp had recorded prior and some new stuff that a great album would eventually make it out of Scholz's basement. So I waited and waited and nearly 11 years later, the announcement came that in December, Boston's new album would finally arrive.
And so, what do we get after all this time?? 8 songs (some of which don't sound like Boston at all) and 3 remakes from Corporate America and on the BB version another remake from CA. I don't mind doing some different things on an album with some different sounding songs. And I also don't mind reissuing some songs from a previous album (I didn't mean to fall in love is a great song from Corporate America) that you play differently but these should be bonus tracks on a deluxe edition and not part of a standard album. As a huge fan, I will admit I am disappointed after all this time waiting. Even though there were a couple things I didn't like about Corporate America, I didn't feel as let down as I do here.
Don't get me wrong as there are moments -- like on `Heaven on Earth' where the band sounds like the Boston of old with Scholz's rocking guitar. But unfortunately those times are few and far between on this album. After a few listens, this has grown on me a bit but I still expected more.
The songs sound simplistic and even the production feels off to me. The vocals -- provided by a rotating cast of singers, including the late Brad Delp -- seem to be poorly mixed as well. For me personally, I absolutely hate the female vocalist (Dahme) in this album. I didn't like the one song she did as a lead in Corporate America and I don't like her vocals now. She is a decent vocalist, but to me, it is not the Boston sound.
The album lacks a cohesiveness and seems very unfocused. The vocals by different singers seem to contributes to this, as are the reworked versions of songs from `Corporate America' but even with that, the individual songs themselves seem to be lost.
Heaven on Earth is probably my favorite of the album and sounds most like the old Boston.
Didn't Mean to Fall in Love - A good song on CA, but I personally couldn't tell any difference on this album and I am not sure why it needed to be remastered. (Put it as a bonus track, we will listen to it, we promise.)
Last Day of School is ok as an instrumental but Boston has done better.
Sail Away - with Brad on the vocals is decent but seems unfinished. Maybe due to Brad's passing. A good song but could have been much more.
If You Were in Love - with Dahme is better than her effort on the previous album but in my opinion is an example of where Boston strays far away from their sound.
Someday and Love Got Away are ok with someday sounding a bit Third Stage-ish.
You Gave Up on Love and Someone are again from the previous album and to me aren't different enough to be included as part of the main album. Again these should be bonus tracks.
The Way You Look Tonight is a decent ballad similar in the vein of Living for you.
Te Quiero Mia - Another remake from Corporate America, at least this was at least listed as a bonus track for the album.
It seems to me with the loss of Delp and the departure of some of the band mates that have helped the band play live throughout the years (Fran Cosmo's to me is one notable example), Scholz and Boston have lost their way. I expected so much more, but seemingly the fire may be dwindling for the band, which I can understand after losing Delp. But don't tell us that you have for 10 years been working on some classic sounding material and instead give us this. And please don't put Dahme as a lead vocalist on a Boston album. That to me is not Boston either. I can accept that we don't have Delp anymore but give us the rocking sound and good vocals that we fans have come to know and love. Give us a 5 star album and not a 3 or lesser quality one.
As a long time fan I can only hope....Well maybe in another 10 years. We fans miss ya Brad :-(
150 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
I just picked up the new Boston album, Life Love & Hope, online. Don't waste a penny on this. Want to hear more? Read on...
The hardest part of this is that I was a HUGE fan of the first album, and to a lesser extent, Don't Look Back. What I mainly hear on this release is a half-hearted rehash of ideas and sounds Tom Scholz has been recycling since Third Stage, which for me was barely tolerable, and certainly the beginning of the end.
Drums: The worst drum machine sounds I have ever heard. And that's saying a lot. The programming is ridiculous, these are drum patterns no real drummer would ever come up with, way too busy and completely without feel. On top of that, the drums are mixed at about half of the volume they should be for a 'rock' album.
Guitars: Yes, Tom, you invented the Rockman sound. Now quit it already. The first two albums rocked because you tracked through amplifiers. This sound is way over processed and has no balls whatsoever. The parts are all meandering and without focus, and there's too many of them on every song.
Vocals: Yes I hear Brad Delp in there in places. I also hear lead vocals by a thin voiced female singer that sound totally out of place. What I don't hear are vocal melodies like those that made the first two albums memorable.
Songs: I don't hear any of these at all. There is also a glaring lack of 'hooks' like those that made Boston a household name. No amount of studio production, or decades between albums, will make up for a lack of actual music. The third song, an instrumental, would fit nicely on a Mannheim Steamroller Xmas album.
Long story short, with just the talent within my circle of musician friends, we could write an album of songs that sound a lot more like Boston, that actually rock, and that someone might actually want to hear. Please do not frustrate yourself by buying or listening to this terribly failed attempt at rekindling the Boston fire.
48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2013
Good Grief! This album is horribly produced! The mix is the poorest I've ever heard on any album. Seriously can you not hear that?
I was listening to it on Rhapsody and it's the only album mix that sounds flat and doesn't stand out. Isn't Tom Scholz supposed to be the production master? Not sure what happened but I can't even hear the vocals buried under the bad drum kits. No screaming guitars? What's up? Only 30 minutes of music after another long wait between albums? The album art is cool as it always is with that guitar drifting further away from the planet though. Sorta symbolic don't ya think?
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
An 11-year wait, only 8 new songs, the same abismal drumming technique that EVERYONE hates, and a mish-mash of lead and backing vocals - and perhaps many various other things to complain about. Hmmm, how can there be anything redeeming about this thing called, "Life, Love & Hope"?
Despite all of the negatives, I actually enjoy much of the music created here. All 8 of the new songs include at least something very listenable - and even enjoyable. I won't just gloss over the negatives though. The drumming is not so horrific in that if you had never heard real live drums, you might not agree to the degree that so many criticize Tom's "drum triggering" voo-doo. But it is downright criminal not to use a live real drummer when you have two who are listed as current band members! Properly mixed, that by itself would have the potential to push this album to 4 stars in my view. The other big problem, in my view, is the vocals are all over the place. Sometimes mixed too deep, sometimes too out front and much of the time too many of them. Tom apparently didn't learn from that mistake on "Corporate America". When I heard Tom was singing lead on one song, I thought oh god now he's completely lost it. But for whatever miracle ocurred , he's not half bad. "Love Got Away" is a very decent song, and I have come to like it quite a bit. There are other moments where I think the vocals are pretty good too. David Victor and Tommy DeCarlo have their moments, and I wish they were the focus on all or at least the majority of the songs. The secondary lead vocals on "Heaven on Earth" are really good at times, and I'm guessing the guest vocalist, Louis St. August, is partly responsible for that.
The 3 re-hashes from "Corporate America" are not different enough, in my opinion, to include them - especially since they are not very different from the originals. One positive point though, Tommy DeCarlo does do a nice job on "You Gave Up On Love 2.0". I like the song too, so I do not skip this one when listening to "Life, Love & Hope". The other two were decent enough songs the first time, but they remain only decent enough here.
All of the new songs have grown on me, and I have probably listened to the album in its entirety maybe a dozen times now. I guess I have little trouble discarding what I don't like and latching on to the moments I do like. For me, that has made for a pretty good album - and is already far superior to "Corporate America", which I likely listened to all of 12 times in the last 11 years.
I will go see Boston when they tour again, and I look forward to hearing a few of the new songs played live.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
Boston‘s sixth album, ‘Life, Love & Hope,’ is a rather frustrating, confusing affair JUST Boring " too LOVEY DOVE DOVE !
There are still moments — like on the chorus of the album-opening ‘Heaven on Earth’ — when the band’s trademark formula clicks into place with a perfectly infectious chorus and that famous Tom Scholz guitar tone. But that buzz rarely lasts for an entire song, and far too often what turns up instead is highly generic pop-rock filler. Obviously, part of the problem is that Scholz is trapped by his past success. He’s clearly trying to explore more diverse (and often more mellow) textures with songs like the ’80s synth-rock referencing ‘Sail Away’ or the harmonica-powered ‘Someday.’ But it’s impossible not to compare these new wrinkles to the unimpeachable template he built on the group’s first few records.
And it’s not just the style that suffers by this measure, it’s the songwriting, the overly simplistic lyrics and even the production, which used to be the group’s calling card. Here the drums sound positively tinny, and the often unremarkable vocals — provided by a rotating cast of singers, including the late Brad Delp — are frequently too high in the mix, further burying those (still wonderful) guitars. Another problem is the scattered, unfocused nature of the record. The vocals-by-committee approach obviously contributes to this, as does the fact that several tracks on ‘Life, Love & Hope’ are reworked or remastered versions of songs from the group’s 2002 ‘Corporate America’ album. But even accounting for that, the record takes some jarring left turns, like the pace-sapping organ part that appears halfway through ‘Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love’ or the overly dramatic political rap (complete with helicopter sound effects!) that opens ‘Sail Away.’
You can judge this album by its cover, While not compared to ‘Boston‘ and ‘Don’t Look Back”s scenes of escape and exploration, the ‘Life, Love & Hope’ artwork does rather effectively portray the image of a band that seems somewhat aimless and adrift at the moment... Fact be said there are tribute bands that could have delivered a Boston Of " the once ago " better than BOSTON ...
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2014
1) Tom seriously has to find a true Brad Delp replacement (Like Journey did replacing Steve Perry with Arnel Pineda) and stop using harmonized vocals of multiple singers. Fran Cosmo (Walk On) was close. Kimberly Dahme also needs to be removed.
2) On "Corporate America" many of the songs sounded like they were recorded by the band "Oasis", and now this album sounds like I'm dialed in to the Christian rock station. The music/songs are getting sappier.
3) 3 of the 11 tracks are from the LAST album "Corporate America" - REALLY? In a decades wait, they couldn't provide an album of all NEW music? I'm paying good money for duplicate music? Unacceptable.
4) I've listened to this album now close to a dozen times and have concluded the only tracks tolerable are "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love", "Last Day of School", "Sail Away", "Life Love and Hope" and "The Way You Look Tonight" That's 6 tracks again that are only TOLERABLE.
There hasn't been a decent Boston Album start to finish worth the $ since "Walk On".
Listen to track #6 "Get Re-organized" on the Album "Walk On" to hear REAL Boston.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
I'm totally shocked at how Scholz continues to regress as a producer. It's kind of like he's done things completely backwards from what you'd expect -- his debut was immaculately produced, Don't Look Back was fine, then each album from there has been progressively worse. Bringing us to the latest release, which, unfortunately, sounds like a demo recorded years ago with cheap equipment.
The drum (machine) sound is amazingly artificial sounding. I'm not a fan of drum machines in general, but from a tone perspective, they have gotten much better over the years. Not here. Even by mid-1980s drum machine standards, this sounds bad. Really bad.
The rest of the mix isn't much better. The thick, lush guitar sound is gone. This would be okay if it were replaced with something decent, but it wasn't. The overall mix is one-dimensional. Gone is the wide, room filling production, with nothing compelling put in it's place.
I certainly don't fault Scholz for not re-creating what he's done in the past. But there still the expectation that it should sound decent.
On the bright side, some of the songs are structurally pretty good. Unfortunately for me, I have a hard time thinking I'll be able to get past the way it sounds.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2013
This is an awful release. If I could give it zero stars I would. I have enjoyed every Boston album until now. It's really Tom Sholtz playing every instrument and not doing a very good job at that. For someone who has created studio magic in the past, this is an abomination. It should have never been released. And definitely not as a Boston album. The drum machine used is so bad you can't make it through an entire song without wanting to rip your ears off. The album was terribly mixed and the songs are nowhere near the quality you would expect from a Boston release. It's a shame this is the best he could come up with in over ten years of writing this album. I think it's time to hang it up. I feel so cheated and ripped off.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2013
I hate to be a critic. There are a few songs on the album that are really good and I will listen to them often. But there are a lot of songs that are average and well below average. I find many of the changes disjointed. Most of these songs would be much better if the drumming were: 1) done on a real drum kit, and 2) done by a real drummer. Some of the disjointed changes would be made better with a drummer that knows what he's doing. I'm not a drummer, so I'm not just being picky. This is bad, and I'm very surprised that Mr. Sholz's friends, collaborating musicians or former band mates didn't tell him. This is a flop.
Everything would be made much better if there was a true drummer on board. The average and below average songs would be average and above average. The really good songs that I like would be great.
While I always like the harder edge, I appreciate some of the mellowing and melodies created here. I see an older more seasoned musician challenging his boundaries a little bit and creating some cool undercurrents here and there. I can't agree with a lot of the criticisms of the other Boston purists. But after 10 years, I can't believe that the album is shamed by a drum box programmed by a non-drummer. It just doesn't do the fans, or more importantly the music, justice. Enough said.
Mr. Scholz: I understand your need for perfectionism. I understand that as a talented artist, you want to try to show your ability by doing it all yourself. Fight it. A band exists so that members can make up for each others weaknesses to produce a well-rounded piece. If you truly are a perfectionist, then you are probably intellectually honest. Recall the album and re-record the drumming track with a real drummer. I'll buy it again.