Argh, the ‘80s! The cover of this record is a bit confused. Roger Daltrey looks like a real estate agent. Pete Townshend looks like a pre-op transsexual. John Entwistle looks bizarrely like Ringo Starr in a pinstripe suit. Kenney Jones looks like a waxwork. All four of them are facing away from a young boy playing a Space Invaders machine, his back to the camera, in a darkened room. Aside from the allusions to Pinball Wizard, I don’t know what this all means, but it feels dodgy. Don’t worry though; Townshend was just doing research, right?
Thankfully the album doesn’t sound as unnaturally ‘80s as they were trying to make themselves look on the cover. There’s a fair bit of synth on the album – but no more than say, Quadrophenia, and that always jarred slightly on that album anyway.
The reason I’ll put this album on will always be the last track on the first side – Eminence Front, with lead vocals by Townshend himself. I know the song from the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, so hearing its slow burn always reminds me of driving around Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, knocking over pedestrians and doing drive-bys.
More Than A Feeling is always mentioned as an influence on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and held up as the one song it shares the most DNA with. The similarities are there – a catchy rock song built around a cyclical guitar riff – but that’s about it. A lot of famous guitar riffs are cyclical – it’s a hallmark of a catchy riff – but I see no reason to single Boston out.
You wouldn’t think it, but once you get past the family-friendly More Than A Feeling, Boston’s debut turns into a decent hard rock album – the pop single is definitely the softest thing on there. I know Smokin’ from the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the rest of the album can be summarised by that song much better than its opening hit single. If anything, Boston come across as an American Deep Purple – guitar and organ led rock songs, with an unrelenting rhythm section.
The album is still the second best-selling debut album of all time in the United States (after Appetite For Destruction), and I guess that fact alone points to how important this album is to the musical psyche of that country – something that may not translate as well to the rest of the world.