Don't Look Back


Epic Records, 1978

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Pop quiz boys and girls; Your debut album has become the best selling debut album ever, with the lead single reaching number one on the billboard charts. What do you do? Well, if you're Boston, you take two years to follow up with another album, one that is almost a carbon copy of the groundbreaking Boston. Is that bad thing?

Think of it this way: Don't Look Back was in the same boat as Star Wars Episode 1. Neither could live up to expectations, no matter how incredible the product turned out to be. Also, put yourself in Tom Scholz's shoes; why would you mess with a formula that made you a great deal of money, and was widely accepted? It would be tough for most of us to resist. So here we are presented with an album that is derivative in every sense of the word, however, it isn't that bad.

What made Boston a success (and the lack thereof which led to later stinkers like Walk Onmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 and Corporate America) was, among other things, that Scholz could write a catchy rock song. Boston had "More Than A Feeling", so Don't Look Back has the title track. One of the better tracks the band has done, "Don't Look Back" is the perfect arena rock anthem. Loud, good riff to start things off, refrain full of hooks, and in a touch I like, shifts in tempo, with spots for the customary solo. If there ever was a formula for a hit single, this is it.

Everyone always remember the hits, so what does the rest of the album have to offer? A few average tracks, a completely useless instrumental, and three of the best songs Boston has to offer. With the exception of "Feelin Satisfied," the title track, and "A Man I'll Never Be," the remaining tracks on Don't Look Back are your average pop/rock fare. As I mentioned before, any of these songs could have also been on Boston's debut album, so after an album and half of the same songs, the second half of Don't Look Back loses momentum. This could have been solved with a better arrangement of the songs themselves.

How much you like this album depends on how much you like the Boston sound. There is no doubt that the production on this album is stellar, it just comes down the tunes. "It's Easy" is a light affair, "Don't Be Afraid" has a strange, neo-country sound to it that doesn't quite work, and "Party," as it turns out is more of a bar mitzvah. These songs have the standard Scholz treatment, but fail to present anything new. Now for the good news.

While there were many great moments on Boston, to me the pinnacle of the album was the opener, " More Than A Feeling." On Don't Look Back, that pinnacle comes in the form of "A Man I'll Never Be." In a very un-Boston like move, the song opens up with just lead singer Brad Delp and the piano, and slowly gathers more and more momentum, and Delp's vocals climb higher and higher, until you think the man is going to bust a nut. And of course, all this time, Scholz's virtuoso layering of the guitars matches Delp note for note. This is the Boston formula, and it's carried off perfectly.

Don't Look Back is not a bad record. It just could have been better. I said this in my Corporate America review, but don't get confused, CA and Don't Look Back are not the same record, not by a long shot. It comes down to this; if you are going to get a Boston album, get the debut or the greatest hits, and you'll be set.

Rating: B-

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 Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.