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Don't Look Back (Boston album)

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Don't Look Back
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 15, 1978[1]
ProducerTom Scholz
Boston chronology
Don't Look Back
Third Stage
Singles from Don't Look Back
  1. "Don't Look Back"
    Released: August 1978
  2. "A Man I'll Never Be"
    Released: November 1978 [2]
  3. "Feelin' Satisfied"
    Released: March 1979 [3]

Don't Look Back is the second studio album by American rock band Boston, released in 1978 by Epic Records.[4][5] The album reached No. 1 in both the US and Canada, and No. 9 in the UK. The title track helped with the album's success, reaching No. 4 in 1978 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remains one of the band's biggest hits. The album sold over one million copies in the ten days following its release and was certified 7× platinum by the RIAA in the US on April 11, 1996.[6]

The album's two-year gap from its predecessor marks the shortest between two of the band's studio albums to date; guitarist, producer and primary songwriter Tom Scholz claimed that Epic executives pushed him and the band into releasing the album before they felt it was ready. He also felt that the album "was ridiculously short".[citation needed] Their next album, Third Stage, was not released for another eight years, by which time the band and record label had parted ways and fought a courtroom battle that Boston ultimately won.


Don't Look Back was recorded during 1977 and 1978 at Scholz's Hideaway Studio, except for the piano on "A Man I'll Never Be", which was recorded by engineer Dave Butler at Northern Studio in Maynard, Massachusetts.[5]


"Don't Look Back", "A Man I'll Never Be" and "Feelin' Satisfied" were all released as singles, reaching No. 4, 31 and 46 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.[7]

"The Journey" is a short instrumental track that links the opening title track and the third track, "It's Easy". In 1987, Scholz cited it as his favorite song on any of Boston's first three albums, but wished that it were longer.[8] He described it as, "I'm floating through space, cruising in an airplane over the clouds".[8] Billboard writer Paul Grein cited "The Journey" as an example of science fiction-like music on Don't Look Back that is consistent with the guitar-spaceship cover art of the album (and single).[9] Grein referred to it as having an "almost religious" tone, anticipating that some listeners would find it "pretentious" but stating that he found it an effective interlude between the harder-rocking songs "Don't Look Back" and "It's Easy".[9] Emerson said that the organ sounds church-like and that the guitars sound "ghostly", making the track sound "eerie and alienated".[10] He compared "The Journey" to David Bowie's work during the late 1970s.[10] According to Scholz, the song had been lying around for years before he found "the right theme to match the music".[11] It took him just three days to record.[8] The song was the only one on the album without a drum track, and so it was the only song on which drummer Sib Hashian did not appear.[12][13] Barry Goudreau, who played rhythm guitar, was the only musician on the track besides Scholz.[13] "The Journey" was released as the B-side of the "Don't Look Back" single.

Grein described the transition from "The Journey" to "It's Easy" as "appropriately jarring" due to the latter song's fast boogie guitar introduction.[9] "It's Easy" contains the line "I believe what we achieve will soon be left behind", which Emerson points out appears to be sung to a girl with whom the singer is having a one-night stand, but may also be a self-reference to Boston's own music, similar to the band's approach on their earlier hit "More Than a Feeling".[10] Emerson also noted a similar theme of nostalgia between "More Than a Feeling" and "It's Easy".[10] Writer Derek Oliver included the song as one of several on the album that retained Boston's "signature sound" of "pristine production, humongous orchestral guitars and stupendous vocals" from the debut album.[14] AllMusic critic Tim Sendra found this song "more reflective" than any of the material on Boston's debut.[15][16]

"Party" was co-written by Delp and Scholz. It begins with a short, slow introduction before a surprising change of pace to the fast, harder sound that persists throughout the rest of the song, in much the same way as "Something About You" from the debut.[9] The dual themes of "Party" are loud parties and teenage sex.[9] Grein compared the "raucous bar band climax" ending of the song to Aerosmith.[9] Sendra found the song to be a "storming rocker" in the mold of "Smokin'" from the debut.[15][16] "Party" is another song cited by Oliver as retaining the band's signature sound.[14] Billboard rated "Party" to be one of the best songs on the album.[17] It is one of four songs from the album that were included on Boston's Greatest Hits album, along with the three singles.[18]

"Used to Bad News" was written by Delp, making it the only song on the album on which Scholz did not receive a writing credit. Emerson described "Used to Bad News" as "a charming, rather Beatles-like song".[10] Greil Marcus rated it as one of the three "masterpieces" on the album, along with the title track and "A Man I'll Never Be".[19][20] As with "It's Easy", Sendra considered the song to be more reflective than anything on the debut.[15][16] "Used to Bad News" is the only song on the album on which Goudreau is the sole lead guitarist.[13][8] Scholz played all the other instruments except drums.[13] It was released as the B-side of the "Feelin' Satisfied" single.

"Don't Be Afraid" closes the album. The song had an earlier genesis than other songs on the album, as it was originally one of the demos Scholz worked on before getting a record contract.[14][21] Grein stated that it "comes to a crashing, concert-like crescendo", specifically citing Hashian's drumming.[9] It was also released as the B-side of the "A Man I'll Never Be" single.

Original release[edit]

Don't Look Back was originally to be titled Arrival. However, Boston members discovered that Swedish pop group ABBA released an album by that name two years prior, so Don't Look Back was chosen. The album was listed erroneously as Arrival in the cassette inserts of some other CBS releases at the time promoting albums available from the record company and its associated labels.

Compact disc releases[edit]

Don't Look Back was among the first commercially produced compact discs when the format was introduced in 1983, but because of ongoing legal issues between Scholz and CBS Records, the title was pulled after a small production run and did not reappear on CD until three years later. Inserts for the original CD pressings contained the "spaceship blueprints" from the original album dust jacket; those illustrations were not included in the 1986 reissue.

This album and the group's first album were remastered and re-released on June 13, 2006. The reissues were digitally remastered personally by Scholz after he heard indirectly that the remastering project was to be handled by Sony's team, which he felt was unacceptable. He took it on himself after negotiations with Legacy Recordings, saying, "I've always wanted to make those albums sound good on CD, and the chance arrived".[22]

A small number of the Sony-remastered versions briefly went on sale in Canada on April 4, 2006, before being removed from sale. Those discs also included a live version of "Shattered Images" (mistitled "Help Me" on the packaging), an unreleased Boston original recorded at a 1976 concert in Philadelphia.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[24]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[25]

Don't Look Back received generally favorable reviews from critics. Billboard described the album as "an equally superior effort [as their debut album] that further refines this group's ability to play hard rock underlined by a sweet, melodic base".[17] In a more mixed review, Ken Emerson of Rolling Stone said that the album "consolidated the sound of the band's debut album but was less pretentious than Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town". Emerson noted a theme of Scholz expressing his anxieties, particularly with making this album, as evidenced by lines about being unsure about measuring up as a man in "A Man I'll Never Be", and the line "I've been used/But I'm taking it like a man" in "Used to Bad News" (a song written by Brad Delp). Emerson also pointed out contradictions between the lyrics of certain songs, such as the line that "I'm much too strong not to compromise" in "Don't Look Back" versus the line in "A Man I'll Never Be" that "I can't get any stronger", or the line "Emotions can't be satisfied" in "A Man I'll Never Be" versus the title itself of "Feelin' Satisfied".[10] Brad Chadderton of The Ottawa Journal praised the album for its heavy, innovative and melodic guitar lines; for Brad Delp's vocals; and for lyrics that contain philosophical meaning, calling Don't Look Back an improvement over the debut album.[26] Christgau's Record Guide gave the album a favorable B−, stating "Not only are the guitars perfectly received, but the lyrical clichés seem specially selected to make the band as credible in the arena as they are in the studio, and Brad Delp's tenor, too thin for nasty cock-rock distractions, leaves us free to contemplate unsullied form."[24] AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying Boston sounds "inspired" on the album.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Tom Scholz, except "Party", co-written with Brad Delp, and "Used to Bad News", written solely by Delp

Side one
1."Don't Look Back"5:53
2."The Journey"1:50
3."It's Easy"4:23
4."A Man I'll Never Be"6:40
Total length:18:46
Side two
5."Feelin' Satisfied"4:30
7."Used to Bad News"2:56
8."Don't Be Afraid"3:44
Total length:15:14



  • Brad Delp – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, tambourine
  • Tom Scholz – pianos, organs, lead guitar, electric rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, guitar special effects, bass guitar, hands and cans
  • Barry Goudreauslide guitar, lead guitar (2, 7, 8), co-lead guitar on "Don’t Look Back", percussion
  • Fran Sheehan – bass guitar, percussion (1)
  • Sib Hashian – drums, percussion

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Rob Rosati – hands and cans
  • Cindy Scholz – hands and cans
  • Gloria – hands and cans


  • Tom Scholz – producer, arrangements, engineer, cover concept, digital remastering
  • Eric Carr – assistant engineer
  • Dennis Coscia – assistant engineer
  • Rob Rosati – assistant engineer
  • David "db" Butler – piano recording (4)
  • Wally Traugott – original mastering at Capitol Mastering (Hollywood, California)
  • Tony Lane – art direction
  • Gary Norman – cover artist
  • Ron Pownall – album photography



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[41] 4× Platinum 400,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[43] 7× Platinum 7,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.
  2. ^ "Boston singles".
  3. ^ "Boston singles".
  4. ^ a b c Sendra, Tim. "Boston" Don't Look Back > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2010. It was produced by Tom Scholz.
  5. ^ a b Don't Look Back (CD liner). Boston. Epic Records/Legacy Recordings. 2006 [1978]. p. 11. 82876 82241 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  6. ^ "American album certifications – Boston – Don't Look Back". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "Boston Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  8. ^ a b c d Stix, John (July 1987). "A Normal Life". Guitar Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Grein, P. (September 2, 1978). "Closeup". Billboard. p. 80. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Emerson, Ken (October 5, 1978). "Don't Look Back". Rolling Stone.
  11. ^ Chadderton, Brian (August 25, 1978). "Boston's Engineered Sound". Ottawa Journal. p. 25. Retrieved 2017-05-07 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Scholz, Tom (October 29, 2002). "A letter from Tom Scholz to all who have supported BOSTON". boston.org. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  13. ^ a b c d "Liner notes to 2006 re-release of Don't Look Back". thirdstage.ca. 2006. Archived from the original on 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  14. ^ a b c Oliver, Derek (August 25, 2016). "How Boston Flew So High And Fell So Far". Classic Rock. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  15. ^ a b c Sendra, T. "Don't Look Back". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  16. ^ a b c Sendra, Tim (2002). Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (eds.). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Hal Leonard. p. 132. ISBN 9780879306533.
  17. ^ a b "Top Album Picks: Spotlight". Billboard Magazine. August 26, 1978. p. 100. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  18. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Greatest Hits". Allmusic.
  19. ^ Marcus, Greil (1979). New West. Vol. 4. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  20. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014-08-22). "Real Life Rock 06/04/1979". greilmarcus.net. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  21. ^ Aledort, Andy (September 1997). "The Rock Man". Maximum Guitar. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  22. ^ Scholz, Tom (March 2006). "What the Deuce IS UP With Boston?". A letter from Tom Scholz regarding the newly remastered Debut album and Don't Look Back!. Boston.org. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "Don't Look Back". thirdstage.ca. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: B". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 22, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  25. ^ The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Random House. 1992. p. 76.
  26. ^ Chadderton, Brad (August 18, 1978). "For the record: Thinking man's rock". The Ottawa Journal. p. 19. Retrieved 2017-05-03 – via newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 19. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0013a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  29. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Boston – Don't Look Back" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  30. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  31. ^ "Le Détail des Albums de chaque Artiste – B". Infodisc.fr (in French). Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2012. Select Boston from the menu, then press OK.
  32. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Boston – Don't Look Back" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  33. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved January 12, 2024. Set "Tipo" on "Album". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "Boston".
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  35. ^ "Charts.nz – Boston – Don't Look Back". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  36. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Boston – Don't Look Back". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
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  40. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. 1978. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  41. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Boston – Don't Look Back". Music Canada. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  42. ^ "British album certifications – Boston – Don't Look Back". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  43. ^ "American album certifications – Boston – Don't Look Back". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 27 June 2012.