I always wondered why it took so long for the band Boston to release albums. The conventional wisdom has always been that Tom Scholz is a perfectionist.
That may be true. On December 3, Boston releases Life Love & Hope, the band’s sixth album of original material in it’s thirty-seven year career, and the first since original lead singer Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007.
Scholz has been involved in a number of lawsuits surrounding Delp's death, having sued the Boston Herald over coverage of Delp's death (claiming emotional distress), and also suing Delp's former wife, Micki, claiming that she defamed him in statements that she made after Delp's death (a Superior court judge dismissed those claims).
Scholz has also been embroiled in several lawsuits with former band members regarding trademark violations on the band name Boston.
A lawsuit against Fran Cosmo and his son Anthony was decided in August 2013 when federal judge James Robart rejected Scholz's efforts to bar the Cosmos from referring to themselves as "former members" of the band.
Judge Robart also blocked an injunction request put forth by Scholz seeking to dictate how the Cosmos could refer to their past band affiliation.
A more recent lawsuit seeking to bar former Boston member Barry Goudreau from referencing his former band affiliation has yet to be determined. It is at least the third such lawsuit against Goudreau put forth by Scholz.
With all of his court appearances, it is no wonder that the first new album in eleven years only contains eleven songs, two of which are re-recorded versions of songs on the last record.
Scholz was also critical of the label’s handling of his last effort, 2002’s Corporate America. The album did place at #42 on Billboard’s top 200 album chart, which is pretty surprising since it was also light on new material (nine songs plus a live version of a song from the prior studio album, 1994's Walk On.
Considering Boston’s last true blockbuster release was in 1986, and considering what rock music did in the 90’s, Scholz should be amazed by a #7 peak for Walk On and a #42 peak for Corporate America.
With eight year sabbaticals between each album, a music industry that had gone from grunge to country and rap, a fan base that was rapidly approaching (in 1994) and then cresting (in 2002) middle-age, and albums that were light on new material, the fact that he sold any copies at all is astonishing.
Don’t get me wrong-I liked both of these albums, but most people my age are not waiting for the record store doors to open each Tuesday-and they weren’t in 1994 or 2002 either.
When rock artists fail to accept that as their audience ages, they seem to need to spend their income on diapers, school books, etc, instead of records, I am always amused.
Especially in recent years, where digital sales make up such a huge portion of the industry, I think artists like Boston have their best bet on album sales at their merchandise tables at shows. Fans are not going to go to a record store, nor will they likely think to download the album the day after the show. But get the new release in front of them while they’re walking out, and you have a pretty good chance of selling them a copy.
I was at a show last night with three 1970’s bands-no merchandise table. Their loss.
I hope the new Boston album sells-I preordered my copy. But Tom Scholz needs to accept the fact that it is no longer 1976.
And if he needs any proof, he should just look at this picture, and see if he can find anyone today wearing those clothes or hairstyles!
BOSTON-HEAVEN & EARTH