Great Rock Albums of 1987: Boston- Third Stage

All throughout the 1980s, people were speculating the possibility of a third album from Boston. I heard rumours to that effect back in 1981 and I know that they did record a third album but that was never released. However, that unreleased album appears on the 1996 “Mission Aborted” album and it’s pretty good. However, that’s what I’m not here to talk about right now. In 1987, I read an article in Kerrang about Boston’s new album, “Third Stage.” (Note: this was when Kerrang was still worth reading.) It turns out, the reason why Tom Scholz finally relented and made a third Boston album was that the record company was threatening to sue him for millions of dollars. Now normally, contractual obligation albums aren’t that good as the artists don’t usually put their best efforts into them. However, I can say that this is definitely not the case for “Third Stage.”

What definitely comes through straight away and is a very very good thing is that despite it being the 1980s, the Boston sound which made them icons in the 1970s doesn’t change at all. There are no synths used, instead, Tom Scholz shows that even after so many years, he still knows how to smoke a guitar. That unique Boston guitar sound hasn’t left and that is clear from the start. The best examples are on the the tracks, “We’re Ready,” “Cool the Engines” and “I Think I Like It.”

Not only was “Third Stage” a number one album for Boston, it gave them their only number one single with “Amanda.” It was already known that Boston were more than capable of delivering an awesome power ballad. “Hitch a Ride” from the debut album was one example but “Amanda” is a pure corker of a power ballad. it starts with an acoustic guitar before turning up the heat and a blinder of a guitar solo. The other element which cannot be ignored on this or any other song was the vocals of Brad Delp. He shows that he hadn’t lost anything either.

One place where they might go a little different is the three part concept song, “The Launch,” which is broken down into three parts: a) Countdown, b) Ignition and c) Third Stage Separation. While nicely done, I don’t think that it’s long enough to be a proper concept song but that’s just a small issue. “My Destination” sounds like a 1970s prog rock single but it still works well on album from the 80s. Besides, Tom nails the guitar solo. Likewise for “To Be a Man,” it might have been more at home in the 1970s progressive rock but it works very well on the album. Like the opener, the album ends with a song of a girl’s name for the title. They are the two best songs on the album. “Hollyann” is not the ballad that “Amanda” is, it’s more mid tempo but it takes the album home in true Boston fashion.

Track Listing:

  1. Amanda
  2. We’re Ready
  3. The Launch
  4. Cool the Engines
  5. My Destination
  6. A New Worlds
  7. To Be a Man
  8. I Think I Like It
  9. Can’tcha Say (You Believe in Me) Still in Love
  10. Hollyann

Tom Scholz- guitars, bass, drums, organ, piano

Brad Delp- lead and harmony vocals

Jim Masdea- drums, percussion

Sib Hashian- drums, percussion

Gary Pihl- guitar on (I Think I Like It)

In 1987, Boston came back and what a comeback it was. They didn’t adapt to modern times in any form but relied on the formula which made them great a decade earlier and made “Third Stage” such a great album.

Next post: Belinda Carlisle- Heaven On Earth

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19 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1987: Boston- Third Stage”

  1. Just bought this a few weeks ago, really enjoying it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw Boston on this tour in 1988. I believe another band from Boston named Farrenheit (who also had an album in 1987) was the opener.
    I still listen to this album today and really enjoy it.

    As for the Mission Aborted, that is a bootleg that was rumoured to have been a scrubbed Boston album. It really was the Barry Goudreau (former Boston guitarist) self titled album from 1980 that had all of his Boston mates perform on. So it sort of was a Boston album, but wasn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just found out about that Barry Goudreau album because your post urged me to look into it.
      Thanks for that. Now I need to search out this album and purchase it.
      Cheers and happy father’s day (not sure if you celebrate it across the pond, but either way)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know about Goudreau so your response here has made me want to check it out. Happy Father’s Day back and we do celebrate it here in the UK on the same day as North America. Mother’s Day here is in March though.


    • was that the Hamilton show that is on Youtube Bop? Charlie Farren was the lead singer on Joe Perry’s ‘I’ve Got The Rock N Rolls Again”. Dude had a good set of pipes. Too bad his Farreheit band did not take off..

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is an enjoyable album. “Mission Aborted” was divided into halves. I get the impression that the first half were demo cuts from the first album, which we re-recorded later. There was a track called “San Francisco Bay” which was to the tune of “Hitch a Ride.” The second half of the album was the unreleased third album. Some good tracks on that one!


  3. When this album came out I was 19 and flabbergasted that they would lead off the album with a ballad! But I picked this up on vinyl a few years back and found an appreciation for it now. lol
    Great writeup and Delp is phenomenal on this album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep, another great one by the band. This is one of those bands we wanted to do so much more, but were lucky to get what we did. At least we have a few albums by them although 10-20 would’ve been nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t even realize this was a comeback… of course I didn’t follow all that closely, at the time. Cool stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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