Corporate America


Artemis Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Listening to Boston's latest album Corporate America is like waking up on Christmas morning, opening up a present, and finding a pair of socks.

Corporate America is only the fourth new Boston album since their ground-breaking debut. That was way back in 1976, or as we Generation X-ers call it, ye olden days. Upon its release, Boston became the highest selling debut record ever, only to be dethroned years later by Whitney Houston.

What made Boston special? Plenty. Tom Scholz locked himself in his basement, recording take after take, until the songs , in his mind, were flawless. Guitars, drums, bass, vocals, all re-recorded endlessly. If there was an album that defines perfection, Boston was it. Yet despite the painstaking approach Scholz took to recording the album, at its heart it was still an old-fashioned rock album. Unfortunately, at some point, Scholz lost his way.

In theory, Boston fans have reason to rejoice! Corporate America has Brad Delp back in the fold, after his one-album absence, wailing in that castrato voice of his. Except you can't understand Delp half the time, seeing as his voice is buried deep in the mix. To makes matters worse, he only sings lead on three songs! Oh, what about the drums, you say? Ever played one of those electronic keyboards from back in the '80's? Remember how there were little demos you could play along to? Yeah, the drums on CA sound like that. Well, you ask in desperation, what about those crisp guitar solos? Sorry, it sounds as if Scholz decided to record the album underwater. I'm sure it helped with the acoustics.

It is bitterly ironic that as time has progressed, Tom Scholz has managed to somehow make his albums sound worse. Ever since the debut, Scholz has been more and more preoccupied with the latest technology. Given that, does someone want to explain to me how in the hell my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Corporate America ends up sounding as bad as it does? I've always been taught technology makes things better, allows for more tweaking. Unfortunately for us Boston fans, I think the only way we are going to hear a Boston album that sounds like their debut again is if Tom Scholz meets up with Doc Brown, parks his ass in that Delorean, and goes back to that magical time when he knew what he was doing.

Scholz was never a great songwriter, but he had his moments. "More Than A Feeling" proved that. So what does he do on Corporate America? Gets other musicians to make him look better by writing even worse lyrics! Clichéd titles and lyrics abound throughout the album. "Cryin," "Didn't Mean To Fall In Love," "You Gave Up On Love." Personally, I was waiting for "I love to love your lovely lovin'." But that's not all. The title track takes the cake. Everything the song rails against, globalization, business jets, sales pitches, Mr. Scholz has taken part in himself. This is the man who has spent more time in a courtroom suing Record label and band members, than writing music! When Corporate America was released, it hit #42 on the charts, then sank like a stone. So instead of getting the picture that maybe, just maybe the album sucked, what does he do? He sues the record company, claiming they didn't promote it enough. Corporate America indeed.

So what about everyone else on the album? There are two leftover members from Walk On, the band's fourth album. Those two would be the father-son duo of Fran and Anthony Cosmo. What do they bring to the table? The only decent song on the album. Think Boston + metal. "Turn it Off" is the darkest song Boston has ever recorded, which adds to the edge the track has. Lyrically, there's nothing to get too excited about, but just hearing Boston try something radically new is a breath of fresh air. "Turn it Off" has an organic feel, which is something lacking in Boston's three previous albums. For me, there was no greater surprise on the album than hearing REAL drums. If Scholz wants to bring a new crowd, this is the road to go down for the next album, most likely to come out in 2027.

Oh how could I forget, Kimberly Dahme? She is the first female member of Boston, and hopefully the last. The one song credited to her on the album, "With You" is so incredibly out of place it could make a sad clown laugh. The Boston sound in no way includes country numbers. It doesn't work. Oh yes, Scholz attempts to inject a bit of Boston with an obligatory guitar solo, but it doesn't work. Just like most of the album

You know, if there was another band, this album wouldn't be that bad. I would predict great things for them in the future. But this isn't some unknown band, this is Boston, gods of arena rock, and once owners of the greatest-selling debut album of all time. Tom Scholz should have been able to do better. Oh yes, remember how Scholz sued over CA, claiming it was under-promoted? Well, apparently Scholz has gone back into the studio, and is in the process of re-mixing Corporate America, supposedly due for release later this spring. I'm sorry Tom, maybe people just don't care anymore

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.