Released September 26, 1986

Recorded 1986 Tom Scholz' Hideaway Studio

Length 36:40
Label MCA
Catalog MCAD-6188

Producer Tom Scholz

RIAA Certified 4 Million Copies

Track Title Length  
1 Amanda (Scholz) 4:16  
2 We're Ready (Scholz) 3:53  
3 The Launch (Scholz) 3:00  
4 Cool the Engines (Scholz) 4:23  
5 My Destination (Scholz) 2:13  
6 A New World (Masdea) 0:36  
7 To Be a Man (Scholz) 3:33  
8 I Think I Like It (Scholz, J. English) 4:10  
9 Can'tcha Say (You Believe in Me): Still in Love (Scholz) 5:18  
10 Hollyann (Scholz) 5:18  
Third Stage is the third album by hard rock band Boston released September 26, 1986 on MCA Records. The album was recorded at Tom Scholz' Hideaway Studio over a three-year period "between floods and power failures".

After winning a legal battle with Epic Records, Scholz switched their recording label to MCA. The first track on this album, "Amanda", actually written in 1980, became the band's only #1 single. The track reached and stayed at #1 for two weeks in November 1986.

The album was a first, in many respects: the first Boston LP to feature electronic drum samples, the first to feature songs not written by either Scholz or Delp and the first Boston LP without the three original members Barry Goudreau, Sib Hashian and Fran Sheehan. This LP was also the first Boston recording to use the Scholz-invented Rockman guitar processor.

No orchestral sounds or synthesizers were used in the album.
Brad Delp - vocals, harmony vocals
Tom Scholz - guitars, organs, drums
Jim Masdea - drums, percussion
Gary Phil - guitar
Album - Billboard (North America)

1987 Billboard Top 200 #3

Side 1

Amanda - 1980-81
Amanda was the first. The first song on the album. The first written. The ringing chime notes are played on electric guitar, like the church bells at the end of "We're Ready."

We're Ready - 1981
And we're ready Now!

The Launch - 1982
Remove the breakable objects from tables and shelves before listening. The countdown prepares you for ignition of the world's largest organ-powered vehicle. The ascent is followed until the Third Stage separates and accelerates into...

Cool The Engines - 1981-82
A rocket ride at red line. "If we don't take it easy now, we can kiss it all goodbye."

My Destination - 1982
A variation on the theme of "Amanda" played on an old Wurlitzer electric piano, just like the old days. Brad, signing at his best, answers the inevitable question of the Third Stage.

Side 2

A New World - 1982, 85
No those aren't violins; they're electric guitars through a Rockman

To Be A Man - 1984-85
It takes more than a tattoo and the right cigarette.

I Think I Like It - 1985-86
Changes really open your eyes. Rewrite of a rocker by John English composed over 13 years ago.

Can'tcha Say - 1981, 82, 83
A reunion. Vintage Brad Delp harmonies, "Violins" are still electric guitars.

Still In Love - 1983
For those still in love.

Hollyann - 1980, 81, 82, 1984-85
Looks back to a brief moment in history of real human beauty: "We stood for life and we would never concede it." A tribute to those who remember it and live by it.

Tom, Brad and others with Boston are vegaterians. If you would like information about changing to a vegetarian diet write to:

Vegetarian Information Service (FARM)
Dept. T, Box 5888, Bethesda, MD 20814

Boston commends the work done by several organizations in protecting life. You can help by contacting the following organizations, or by simply not purchasing a fur coat.

1611 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009

Fund For Animals
200 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019

International Fund for Animal Welfare
411 Main St., Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

The Animals' Agenda
Box 5234 Westport, CT 06881

People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals
Box 42516, Washington, DC 20015


For The Technically Curious, or How to make a record in just Six Years

This was an unusual recording project. How many studios could you walk into and find the guitarist punching the tape deck controls with his right foot while blasting power chords out of an amplifier the size of a peanut butter sandwich? How many projects could you listen in 1980, '81, '83, '84, '85, and find someone still working on the same song?

It's been a Long Time

Time to record an album is usually measured in months. After the first two or three years, I began to lose perspective of the months and I discovered other ways to measure progress; one hundred and seventy-five light bulbs burned out in the studio before I did. The record button was pushed nearly one-million times-that's nearly a million chances to accidentally erase something. Over one hundred reels of tape were filled with music. Brad produced over 300 P-pops, and I lost my pick at least a thousand times.

Humanoid Studio Jobs

"Third Stage" is an all-analog recording. To minimize tape wear, the basics were usually recorded on one 24-track tape then the vocals and leads on another. When it came time to synchronize the two tape decks for playback, the high-tech robot synchronizer turned out to be a lemon. It's replacement was a human engineer with long arms; sitting for hours between two M-79, 24 tracks, alternately pressing a thumb on the appropriate reel to keep the decks running at exactly the same speed.

Sticky tape

Did you know that when some recording tape sits for a long time, it gets sticky? Neither did I. How would you feel if you took out your four-year old, one of a kind mix of "Cool The Engines," (with no safety copy) and halfway through the song, the reels stop dead with a bang because your tape has become glued to the guides and must be peeled off the playback head like adhesive tape. The fix: spread a suspicious looking silicon concoction onto the tape as it runs by, and try not to let the enormous beads of sweat dripping from your forehead get your capstan rusty.

No Synthesizers

Th ebony porn at's right! Honest! And no violins either (so how do you make thunderstorms without a synthesizer? A twenty-year old Vox Tone-Bender with a bad transistor). In other words, the Boston sound is powered by old, straight ahead rock-n-roll equipment, as opposed to midi-interconnected-computer-sequenced synthesizers.There is however, a notable exception. The Rockman, it's not old-the ink is still wet on the patents. This little box replaced the 100-watt stacks, Soaks, and racks of old equipment that was used to make the Boston guitar sound. The Rockman was developed and refined over the course of the project, and ended up on the majority of the tracks. Here's a partial list of the musical equipment used:

  • Les Paul Goldtop with DiMarzio Supers
  • Gibson bass with Fender Jazz pick-up
  • Hammond M-3 and Leslie
  • Conn theatre organ ("The Launch")
  • Old Wurlitzer piano and CP70 electric grand
  • Rockman Chorus
  • A real Steinway (Thanks Blue Jay)
  • Off-brand drums with Zildjian overhead
  • Custon prom-stored drums (thanks Neil, Digi drums) used on a couple of cuts
  • Rockman IIB, X100 ans Sustainor

Performances Worthy of Note

Brad Delp - Lead vocals and harmony vocals
Tom Scholz - Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, grand piano, electric pianos, bass guitar, Hammond organ, theatre organ, some drums, guitar "violins", rocket ignition, thunderstorms, and unidentified flying objects.
Jim Masdea - Drums or percussion on numerous tracks
Gary Pihl - Trades guitar leads with Tom in "I Think I Like It"

Special Thanks

To Bob Ludwig of Master Disk for mastering par excellence and working for hours to save a few milliseconds, to Chris Serra cover ship concept sleeve for drawing and John Salozzo cover final art, to Neil Miller Augustine Antoine Bill Mack Mike Blackmore Gary Pihl Digi Drums and Del Eilers for technical help with the studio, to Blue Jay Studios where the piano track for "Can'tcha Say" was recorded and engineered by Gragg Lumsford, to Ron Pownall for Organ Pipe stage studio and to Richard Ocean for lighting it, to the MCA staff for being patient and energetic, to everyone at SR and D for making the Rockman a reality, and to Michelle Scholz for the "World."

Credit Where Credit Is Due

To Cindy who was there to pick me up when I fell down for all six years, who did all the thankless jobs without being asked, and told me when I was doing something stupid, even when I really was. The album would not have been finished without her.

Jeff Dorenfeld for mopping up the mess, and sticking with me through five years of hope, dismay, anticipation, anger, jubilation and fear. Without his level-headed guidance this album would never have seen the light of day.

Brad Delp for signing the way only he can sing. This album would not have sounded the same without him.

Don Engel for saving us from the clutches of those who loved money far more than music.

Irving Azoff

Chric Serra for creating a Third Stage for the cover suitable for launching.

Gary Pihl who came in off the bench at the last minute to put in the winning shot.

Jim Masdea for making a comeback and for playing humanoid synchronized cymbals.

Kevin Hartford for being my friend through six hard years.

To several million listeners who've been waiting for a long time.

ARRANGED BY TOM SCHOLZ with a little help from his friends.
RECORDED AT TOM SCHOLZ' HIDEAWAY STUDIO between floods and power failures.