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Boston singer Brad Delp finds satisfaction in band's classic-rock status

By Joshua Rotter
Special to The Record
Published Friday, August 6, 2004

As a recording act, Boston began at the very top, the group's self-titled debut album having sold more than 17 million copies.

As performers, however, ebony porn and particularly as a live act, the original incarnation has nothing on Boston circa 2004.

"Not to take anything away from the original five members, but no one really sang," said Brad Delp, Boston vocalist then and now. "I did all the vocals and background vocals (in the studio) and when we went out, I did everything live.

"But, as of last summer, we have three new members and everyone sings. So, with seven vocalists -- most of who are multi-instrumentalists -- that helps cover the earlier songs."

To be sure, Delp and founding guitar wizard Tom Scholz know that the fans turning out this summer for Boston's 31-city tour want to hear those vintage 1970s tracks.

"We play everything from the first record on," Delp said. "We certainly want people to know about 'Corporate America,' which we toured last summer, but people won't feel shortchanged because we'll be doing a lot of the old favorites."

Boston performs tonight at the Chronicle Pavilion in Concord. The lineup includes Kimberley Dahme (bass), Anthony Cosmo (guitar), Fran Cosmo (guitar), Gary Pihl (keyboards) and Jeff Neal (drums).

Delp sang primarily in cover bands before meeting Scholz 35 years ago. The guitarist was following a unique path to rock 'n' roll stardom -- Scholz had earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and was working as a senior product designer for Polaroid even as he, Delp and fellow guitarist Barry Goodreau began performing in New England clubs. Joined by bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer John "Sib" Hashian, the group recorded the demos that earned them a deal with CBS affiliate Epic in Scholz's self-designed home studio.

The label brought in producer John Boylan to work on the tapes, but it was essentially those demos that the public would come to embrace on "Boston." Powered by both AM pop hits ("More Than A Feeling") and FM album-rock tracks ("Long Time," "Peace of Mind"), the disc remains the best-selling debut album in history.

Just as it was unusual in that era to record an album at home, likewise it was rare for a top band to take two years between releases. Boston did just that, however, releasing "Don't Look Back" in the summer of 1978. While it couldn't match the debut's numbers, the title track was a top 5 pop hit and the album has gone on to sell 7 million copies.

The two years created much talk in the music industry, with some insiders questioning Scholz's perfectionism. Certainly, more than a few critics noted that Boston's music, while popular, was pristine to the point of antiseptic. In an era when the thrash of punk was starting to be celebrated, Boston was denounced as soulless corporate rock.

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