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Monday, April 6, 2015

Boston: Corporate America


1) I Had A Good Time; 2) Stare Out Your Window; 3) Corporate America; 4) With You; 5) Someone; 6) Turn It Off; 7) Cryin'; 8) Didn't Mean To Fall In Love; 9) You Gave Up On Love; 10) Livin' For You [live].

Everything was well with Boston at the turn of the century, so it seems. Scholz took his usual time in between albums, by which time Brad Delp had returned to the band — and not simply returned, but actually consented to a polygamous relationship with Fran Cosmo, who not only did not quit, but brought in his own son, Anthony Cosmo, as rhythm guitar player. Another addition is lady Kimberley Dahme, who used to play in a Boston cover band (yes, apparently there is, or at least was, such a thing as a Boston cover band — and I guess that any respectable Boston cover band has to play ʽMore Than A Feelingʼ ten times each show, for authenticity's sake), and now gets to play acoustic guitar and sing on her own tune ʽWith Youʼ, which does not sound like Boston at all, but hey, fresh blood.

And the big boys of arena rock are back at it again, tossing off a hairball of big love anthems, sappy love ballads, and just a couple of rock sermons for good measure — the grandest of 'em being the title track, which Scholz originally posted online under a pseudonym, to see how well it fit with «the younger demographics». As could be already inferred from everything we know about the band's history, it is an angry diatribe against the evils of «globalization», «maximiza­tion», and «de-evolution of the human race», clothed in a generic techno arrangement that could only have come out of the depths of Corporate America. Technophile #1 Tom Scholz ranting against technology, aided with the latest and trendiest of technology — if this ain't self-irony, it's stupidity, and if this is self-irony, it is hard to distinguish from stupidity. (Okay, okay, so they are only ranting against excessive abuse of technology, but still, shouldn't they have rather tried re­cording the song on wax cylinders, sitting with acoustic guitars around a campfire, than fiddling about with digital technologies? For the sake of credibility and all?).

With the possible exception of ʽI Had A Good Timeʼ — the opening rocker that at least tries to recapture some of the arena-power-pop excitement of the old days — there do not seem to be any good songs here. Sentimentality has by now completely donned the garments of adult contem­porary, with stiff, lifeless arrangements and mannequin vocals (ʽSomeoneʼ, ʽYou Gave Up On Loveʼ, etc.), and when the band tries to go for tragic-apocalyptic (ʽTurn It Offʼ), the production is so unusually muddy for Scholz's usual level of quality that it is hard to judge it as anything other than a complete failure in trying to tackle a style/mood with which the band was previously un­familiar. No, the best thing about Boston had always been their crackling, lightning-bolt-style, positive, life-asserting riffs — this attempt to be «eerie» crumbles under its own weight, with a formulaic, no longer impressive metal riff and lots and lots of noise pinning it to the ground. Bad production decisions for a non-original tune that pretends to a prophetic message — what else could go wrong with a tune like this?

Throw in the Kimberley Dahme song which sounds exactly like 100,000 acoustic folk-country ballads written by big-hearted folk-country stars in the 2000s alone, and you do get Corporate America in all its glory — big, well-oiled, formally efficient, but just a little bit tiresome, to say the least. I wholeheartedly concur with Tom Scholz when he gives his «corporate America» an angry thumbs down — and reciprocate by giving his Corporate America an angry thumbs down. On second thought, strike «angry». Who the heck ever gets angry about a 21st century Boston record? Might as well get angry about Sir Walter Raleigh, who was such a stupid git.


  1. So the only intriguing question is if this album sucks as bad as the two bonus tracks on Greatest Hits, 1997: Tell Me and Higher Power. I'm positive that I don't want to know the answer.

    1. Why didn't you say so:!/album/Corporate+America/290603


  2. Who would've known... I thought the guitar spaceship was build by some corporate engineers. It appears that it is a contraption built by a PETA/Greepeace joint venture.

    Yup, the genius behind the corporate rock, and also MIT graduate, once Polaroid employee, is angry at today's Corporate America. It was so good in his prime time, but now it is so wrong.

  3. "shouldn't they have rather tried re­cording the song on wax cylinders, sitting with acoustic guitars around a campfire, than fiddling about with digital technologies?"

    As I said, Scholz today is an old fool ranting about the superiority of, not only analog studio tapes, but compact cassettes over digital formats.

    Dahme is just his dame, and that's the only reason why is here her joker card in the poker game.

  4. The album title is funny considering that this is the band that inspired the term "corporate rock."

  5. This was at least four albums too many for this bunch.

  6. I'm amazed that this album's cover could look so cheap after the kickass one for Walk On (which absolutely deserved a better album). On the other hand, it isn't actively horrific like the Greatest Hits cover, so maybe I should count that as a blessing.

  7. I played this once when it was new-ish and put it away for good. I thought it totally blew. I played it again today, and actually found myself liking parts of it. I think "Turn It Off" actually works with its edgy vibe (although I have no idea what its lyrics are); "I Had a Good Time" even almost has a little soul (on a Boston album!). "Corporate America" is dumb as can be, but it has an interesting flavor to it.

    I still think the album sucks, but not as badly as I did before. It has the flavor of an alt-Boston from another universe. But Scholz is a superficial technocrat, so there just isn't enough substance here to make it more than "vaguely interesting". Maybe kicking the girl's song off and giving the whole album a more uniform sound and texture would have helped? Good grief, I have lost my mind. This is Boston; such speculation is pointless. At any rate, I was surprised not to hate it so much today. But it still sucks.