Back in the days of vinyl records, there were debates not only about which albums were the best, but also about which sides of albums were the best. Side one of “Led Zeppelin IV,” side two of “Abbey Road,” and side one of “Chicago Transit Authority,” were an example of some album sides that a person could argue over. On Friday night, July 25, 2014 at 8 p.m. at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, fans of the band Boston will get a chance to state their case for side one of “Boston,” when Boston, along with Cheap Trick, comes to town.
“Boston” is the 1976 debut album of the band Boston. Side one of that album contains just three songs, “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Foreplay/Long Time.” All three of those songs, when released as singles, reached the U.S. Billboard Charts Top 40 and helped propel the album “Boston,” to number three on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 Albums Chart where it remained for an incredible 132 weeks (that’s over two and half years if you don’t want to do the math yourself). Worldwide, the album “Boston” has sold over 20 million copies making it the second most successful debut album ever by an American band.
The mastermind behind Boston, the band, is Tom Scholz, a former Polariod Corporation employee who used his salary to build a recording studio in his home’s basement. Along with help from singer Brad Delp, the two of them, by use of overdubbing, recorded 89 percent of all the music found on “Boston,” with Scholz acting as his own producer. Against record company wishes, “Boston” was recorded in Scholz’ basement studio.
Boston’s follow up album, 1978’s “Don’t Look Back,” although not matching the astronomical sales of their first album, did well with the title track reaching number four on the charts and the album reaching number one. But due to legal entanglements, it would be another eight years before Boston’s third album, “Third Stage,” would be released in 1986.
“Third Stage,” had three top twenty hits, “Cool the Engines,” “Can’tcha Say (You Believe In Me),” and the number one hit, “Amanda.” Since 1986, Boston has released three other studio albums, “Walk On” in 1994, “Corporate America” in 2002 and “Life, Love & Hope,” released in December, 2013.
With Delp’s death in 2007, Tom Scholz remains the only original member of Boston. But as Scholz is the band’s primary songwriter, producer and plays the majority of the instruments on all Boston albums, the heart and soul of Boston still remains.
If Boston has been a one man and sometimes two man operation, Cheap Trick, on the other hand, has always been a four member band with each member contributing to the songwriting and instruments played on each album. Although guitarist Rick Nielsen is the group’s main songwriter, bass player Tom Petersson, lead vocalist Robin Zander and drummer Bun E. Carlos, each have made significant contributions as well. For the past several years, Rick Nielsen’s son, Daxx Nielsen, has toured with the band as their drummer in place of Carlos.
Rarely does a live album become the breakout album for a group, but Cheap Trick’s 1979 album “Cheap Trick at Budokan” introduced the world to the Cheap Trick sound of which rabid fans already were aware. With hit singles such as “Surrender,” I Want You to Want Me,” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” from the “Budokan” album followed by the hit single “Dream Police,” from “Dream Police,” Cheap Trick skyrocketed into headlining fame.
Ironically, despite their hard rocking style of play, it is the 1988 power ballad, “The Flame,” that is Cheap Trick’s only number one single. Sometimes considered “the American Beatles,” Cheap Trick took that moniker to heart and played, along with a full orchestra, The Beatles’ album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” in its entirety, for many concerts, including two consecutive summers of bookings in Las Vegas, in 2009 and 2010.
The pairing of Boston and Cheap Trick is a classic rock fan’s dream. Two headlining bands, staples on classic rock radio play, performing together for one night. Tickets for the July 25 show in Phoenix still remain and can be purchased through Live Nation. Ticket prices run from $47 to $112, fees included.