LIFE, LOVE & HOPE
Boston is one of those bands that, as a fan, has just been one of the most frustrating to follow. Their career has been so sporadic musically and so infrequent release-wise that they literally tanked their career for the sake of the creative musings of their leader, guitarist Tom Scholz. To be pretty honest, they haven't done anything that's been that great since the THIRD STAGE release, which came back in 1986. Following the death of vocalist Brad Delp, they seemed like they may just be over, but were resurrected in the live setting by Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet. Sweet has since left, but new vocalist Tommy DiCarlo seems to be a pretty good clone of Delp sonically. So, onward does the Boston spaceship sail.
Unfortunately with LIFE, LOVE & HOPE, Boston has clearly cooled the engines. In short, LIFE, LOVE & HOPE has a few decent moments, no great ones, and a lot of stuff that sounds like studio demos that should have been left on the cutting room floor. For an album that took over 10 years to produce, the most shocking first impression is the tacky, poor drum sound that seems to have been clearly programmed by a drum machine. It's absolutely annoying hearing this mechanical, cold beat underneath songs like the instrumental "Last Day Of School". This is one of many complaints though.
The biggest problem with LIFE, LOVE & HOPE is the lack of cohesiveness in both the songs and the release as a whole. For one thing, Scholz and company chose to use some pre-existing vocals from the now deceased Delp on LIFE, LOVE & HOPE. Listening to songs like "Sail Away", it's pretty obvious that these were, at best, individual takes, and more than likely scratch tracks that were being worked on. If these were finished tracks that just hadn't emerged until now, then it's clear that Delp was well on his way to suicide, as the vocal performances here are as lifeless as he now is. Other songs like "Heaven & Earth" are somewhat better, but not much.
Scholz doesn't fair much better, ultimately. For a guy who's guitar once had such fire behind it, the playing on LIFE, LOVE & HOPE is just dull. Certainly, that signature wall of sound that Boston always had on guitar is there, but there's not an ounce of fire in any of the songs. The only song that even remotely reminds you of the band's glorious past is the title track, "Life, Love & Hope", which has a catchy, familiar melody line in it that could have come from outtakes of "Long Time" or "We're Ready" from a much better time in the band's career. Even here though, Scholz minor soloing is a bit flat and weak.
PITRIFF RATING - 32/100 - Well, the cover art is nice. Other than that, this release is on par or even below what they gave us with CORPORATE AMERICA, which was pretty much a dud on impact as well. No lying, I'll go visit whatever club they play locally next year as I'm a huge fan. That said, I won't know any of the words to these songs if they decide to play them. LIFE, LOVE & HOPE pretty much stinks.