Tracks: Amanda; We’re Ready; The Launch; Cool the Engines; My Destination; A New World; To Be a Man; I Think I Like It; Can’tcha Say (You Believe in Me)/Still in Love; Hollyann
Best track: We’re Ready, I guess?
Tracks to skip: The Launch, Cool the Engines, My Destination, To Be a Man, Hollyann
Well, at least it’s only 36 minutes long! A 36-minute long album was considered “short” in the late 60’s, but to put one out that short in 1986…with two of the songs being short instrumentals…wow. Something’s really wrong with that. To top it off, it took the band (Tom Scholtz specifically) 8 years to make 36 minutes worth of music. If you were a fan of the “rocking” Boston songs, it also might’ve annoyed you that 5 of the songs were cheesy ballads – 20 minutes worth. I think that even at the time this album could’ve been deemed a massive failure. While it’s true that it sold millions of copies and both the album and first single Amanda went to #1, that doesn’t mean it’s actually *good*. This album is proof that you can sell millions of copies by name alone and you don’t need much substance in there.
Even with all of the lawsuits, studio fires and Tom Scholtz’s well-known studio perfection, there’s NO REASON for any album to take 8 years to make. Believe me, I understand how someone can want things *just right* on their album. I get that. But it doesn’t take 8 years. That’s ridiculous…and even more so since the quality of this album is so piss-poor.
I grew up with this album and I’ve probably heard these songs thousands of time, but when I listen back now it’s just incredibly awful. I hate the sound of the instruments on this. The guitars and pianos sound like they’re coming from the inside of a little box (the Rockman!) and there’s no meat to them. Listen to the first album and you can hear a lot of depth to the music. On Third Stage you can’t; everything sounds so small and compressed. It certainly doesn’t help things that there are also awful-sounding drum machines on here (it’s the worst on Hollyann).
A lot of these songs don’t seem to have fleshed-out ideas. Songs like The Launch, My Destination and A New World all end seemingly out of nowhere and even though they’re not very good songs, you’ve got to at least finish writing them. Maybe Scholtz was just sparing us the pain? Perhaps. It’s really disappointing that so much of this album is taken up by cheesy, whiny ballads. There are some really awful rhymes in Amanda in particular. I understand this is a concept album, but I get really tired of the repeated phrases and motifs (“and…feelin’ the way I do…). It smacks of laziness, but there’s so much of this album that does just that. Even the “not so horrible” song We’re Ready still doesn’t have much ooph to it and is ultimately forgettable. Here’s my most honest review for this album: lazy and often awful, occasionally only marginally better.