Tuesday, March 5, 2013

tom scholz

It doesn’t get more corporate than Boston, but they make it work with great tunes and an appeal to our basest instincts.  When I think about Boston, it occurs to me that they take all the things we’re supposed to hate in rock and turn them into positives.  It’s a neat trick, one that’s either very difficult to pull off, or one that nobody else has bothered to try (except maybe BTO) because it’s so simple and hides in plain sight. Much of Boston’s music sounds like a car commercial, but the car being advertised is a low-to-the-ground Camaro with a 400 HP Hemi under the hood, and quite possibly a pair of discarded panties in the glove box.  Yes, Boston is Arena Rock. So what?  “Arena Rock” in this case simply means that the sound is huge enough to leave you feeling like you got your fill of ROCK.  And it ain’t like Chinese food. You won’t be hungry again in 20 minutes. It’s more like a Big Mac. You might feel a little too sated afterwards, maybe even a bit sick, but it’s a small price to pay for stuff that sounds this good… Boston is the brainchild of Tom Scholz, whose hyper-processed guitar sound is unmistakable. You hear a few notes and you know who it is right away.  Again, it’s one of those things where, by some kind go sleight of hand, what’s usually bad becomes great. Normally, guitars that are so supped-up and filtered through tons of effects alienate the listener (or at least this listener) because the human element is obliterated by technology, which can be a bummer.  Give me natural distortion over effects any day of the week. But Scholz has a magic touch that's hard to pin down. It might simply be that, in spite of it all, he has an amazing ear for hooky melodies.  I’m not sure what it is, really, but his guitar playing sounds so lovely in its ugliness. Plus, he has a penchant for 12-string guitars, and this will always be the quickest way to win me over.   ...Very few players have the ability to make walls of processed distortion sound so pleasing.  It’s not the hippest music in the world.  It never was, not even in its heyday.  The target audience has always been white suburban heschers. But I guess there’s a little bit of that demographic in a lot of us because even at my snootiest, I’ve never been able to resist Boston’s charms…


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