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DLC Special: All the Dirt on Boston’s First Album

BostonIt’s finally time for Rock Band to roll out its first (nearly) complete album as DLC — and since we’re a proud Boston operation, what could be more appropriate than the multi-platinum debut by our own arena rock warriors, Boston?

First released in 1976, the album was an immediate sensation, and went on to become the top-selling debut album of all time. Even today, you can’t listen to a classic-rock station for more than a couple hours without running into one of the songs.

The band’s brainy leader Tom Scholz created most of this music in his home studio in the Boston suburbs; and after all these years, few people are really sure how he did it. So to celebrate the DLC release, we present this behind-the-scenes look at the myths and facts surrounding an album you all know by heart. (Much of this info was drawn from interviews between web editor Brett Milano and Boston’s lead singer, the late, great Brad Delp).

MYTH: Boston never played a live gig before making this album.

FACT: They did, but hardly anyone was there. The band wasn’t called Boston either: For a good five years before the album, they went by the name Mother’s Milk. In fact, they even had a theme song — “Mother’s Milkshake.” The chorus went “Shakin’ shakin’, rattle that money that you’ve been making.” They wound up keeping the song but changing the words, it turned into the hit “Smokin’.”
But some of the songs on Boston’s album were played to tiny audiences for years beforehand. When Brad Delp joined the band in late 1970, they already had a tune called “San Francisco Day” — this was the first album’s “Hitch a Ride” with different lyrics. Later there was a song called “90 Days” — the words went “Been 90 days since you’ve been gone.” Another change of words, to “woke up this morning and the sun was gone,” and it was “More Than a Feeling.” Many of the songs were changed up till the last minute: “Foreplay” was supposed to be a stand-alone instrumental before Scholz realized it made a good intro to “Long Time.”

They also performed a lot of cover versions while these songs were being written. In fact, one song in their early club shows was another Rock Band favorite: The Grateful Dead’s “Casey Jones.”

MYTH: Being a control freak, Tom Scholz played just about everything on the album.

FACT: We can’t vouch for the control-freak part but yes, just about all the guitars, basses and keyboards on the album are his. And those walls of harmonies are pretty much all Brad Delp. Having recorded and re-recorded the album a few times before Boston was signed, Scholz made most of the record at his home in Watertown, while the rest of the band worked on vocals and overdubs in L.A.
One exception, though: The album’s closing track, “Let Me Take You Home Tonight,” was recorded at a separate session and features the whole band; Scholz only played organ on that one. That’s why it’s not here.

MYTH:Every label there was turned down Boston’s album before it got released.

FACT: True! In fact, the album was initially turned down by Epic, the very same label that wound up releasing it. Delp recalled that they looked up the Epic/CBS address on the back of an album cover, and made a trip to New York to leave the tape there. It got returned with a form letter saying that it “needed work.” In fact, they only got signed by a fluke: High-powered record executive Paul Ahern, who was working with Fleetwood Mac at the time, heard Boston’s tape playing in somebody else’s office.

MYTH: The guitar riff on “More Than a Feeling” was based on the garage-rock classic “Louie Louie.”

FACT: Nope. According to Delp, one of Scholz’s favorite bands at the time was the James Gang — the band that Joe Walsh was in before joining the Eagles — and “More Than a Feeling” was partly based on a James Gang song, “Tend My Garden.” In fact, Scholz loved the James Gang so much that Delp got the gig as Boston’s lead singer partly because he could do a good impersonation of Walsh’s voice.

 


“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”

 

The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.

Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.

Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.

If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multi-player online, all players will need to download the song.