Boston, "Boston" and "Don't Look Back," Remastered Editions (Epic/Legacy). Widely regarded as evil corporate rock, the launching pad for the "classic rock" radio format, or the very in-studio excesses that required the cleansing flood of DIY punk, Boston's first two albums are actually groundbreaking home-studio projects made out of desperation by MIT graduate Tom Scholz. Scholz - a brilliant guitarist, arranger, producer and, like what he did or not, a musical visionary - was about to throw in the towel and accept music as a non-moneymaking passion when he recorded "Boston" in his basement studio back in early 1976. Melodic power-pop with gorgeously layered guitar harmonies and a rich, dense sound - a product of Scholz's ingenuity, not an inflated major-label recording budget - the album featured Scholz handling 90 percent of the instrumentation himself, helium-voiced singer Brad Delp contributing the lead vocals and impressively stacked harmonies throughout. The album exploded, selling millions and making instant classics out of "More Than A Feeling" - Kurt Cobain reimagined this tune, consciously or otherwise, as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" some 15 years later - "Peace of Mind" and "Foreplay/Long Time," and giving Scholz a recording budget he'd only previously dreamed of. "Don't Look Back" followed a few years later, and fell only a few inches shy of "Boston's" grandeur. Both these records sound fantastic in their remastered forms, not surprising, since Scholz himself handled the work. The definitive editions of two '70s power-pop classics, then. 4 stars for "Boston"; 3 stars for "Don't Look Back." (J.M.)
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