Boston is a rock and roll band that takes its name from the city it was born in. The group formed in the middle of the 1970s and quickly became an American icon in pop culture. Their music was well-received and the group churned out one hit after another through the 1990s. This is a group that had the uncanny ability to present a set of songs that includes heavy rock to bring audiences to a frenzied crescendo, then gently bring them back down with a ballad-style song or a love song that gently moved the listener from one heightened emotion to a calmer more contemplative state. They’re among the highest-album selling bands in history with an estimated 31 million in sales in the United States market and more than double that amount worldwide. Here are the 6 Boston studio albums ranked following their popularity from worst to best.
6. “Corporate America”
“Corporate America was released in 2002. Return of Rock deems it to be the worst of all 6 studio albums released if we must assign the term “worst” to any of them. It was no surprise to discover that the album has a perfect 5-star rating on Amazon.com. This album contains some heavy guitar work including tracks “Stare Out Your Window,” “I Had a Good Time,” and the titular song “Corporate America.” The guitar leads are as always, totally up to par. It’s not my favorite Boston album, but it’s a good collection of songs with decent balance and the signature Boston guitar riffs.
5. “Life, Love & Hope”
Louder Sound ranked “Life, Love & Hope” as the fourth-best, but some others gave it a lower rating. It’s loaded with some great songs with the title song as well as “Sail Away,” “If You Were In Love,” “Someday,” “Love Got Away,” and others. Somehow this album just doesn’t pack the punch that we expect from Boston. It’s a solid project, but none of the songs are among their biggest hits of all time. The album was released in 2013, but it didn’t come close to becoming as popular as some of the others that contain their biggies including “More Than a Feeling,” and the more iconic Boston tunes.
“Boston” was released in 1976. This was the debut album for the group, self-titled, that served as an introduction to the world. It became one of the best-selling albums of the group and is now a classic for Boston fans. It’s more than that. The “Boston” album is essential. It contains some of their most popular song including “Peace of Mind,” “More Than A Feeling,” “Smokin'” and “Foreplay/Long Time.” This album defined who Boston was as a group, and it set the precedent for the songs which would follow.
3. “Walk On”
“Walk On” came out in 1994. It was the fourth album that the band released. The biggest merit of this project is that it stayed true to the form that Boston had already established. The group was in its second decade and it was still turning out lyrically sound tunes with dynamic instrumentals. It’s a balanced album that includes the pleading song “I Need Your Love,” with “Get Organ-ized” heating things up. “Livin” For You” is a well-written song that makes us all think about what it’s like to be in love for the first time. It’s not the best Boston album of all time, but it’s hard to find anything to criticize. None of my personal favorites are on this album, but that’s a matter of preference.
2. Third Stage”
“Third Stage” dropped in 1986. This is an album that was a long time in the making. Tom Scholz would settle for nothing less than perfection and it took him that long to feel satisfied that he had the quality in content and music to put it out into the world for all the Boston fans to judge. The songs are all good lyrically, as are the vocals and instrumentals. It’s a solid album with exceptional balance. It contains one of Boston’s biggest hits, “Amanda.” I would have bought it for that song alone. “Third Stage deserves the second place in our ranking, but there is an even better one.
1. “Don’t Look Back”
The best Boston album of all time is “Don’t Look Back.” The album dropped two years after the band made its debut with the “Boston” album. Their first release set the bar high, but Boston didn’t suffer the same fate as many other bands. They put together a collation of tracks that left us feeling satisfied, no pun intended, because one song on the album is titled “Feelin’ Satisfied.” “It’s Easy,” “Foreplay/Longtime” is enough to inspire you to get up out of your seats and clap your hands. Musicianship in this album is nothing short of masterful.
The precision of the rhythms and intricate guitar riffs affects the listener at deep, if not spiritual, levels. A favorite, “A Man I’ll Never Be,” is a lyrical masterpiece. Most men can relate to it at a deep level. It tempered the album with ballast for the more upbeat songs. I find “Don’t Look Back” to be one of the most balanced works by the band, and one of the finest showcases of their songwriting, singing and playing talents. They showed us who they were and what the group could do with the “Boston” self-titled album, but they took it to the next level with the content of “Don’t Look Back.” It will always be my favorite Boston album of all time.
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