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Return to Zero


℗ 1991 Giant Records 7599 24422

RTZ • 1991 • Return to Zero

"Until Your Love Comes Back Around" hit Top 30 in February of 1992, and helped forge a new identity for ex-Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau as well as perpetual Boston member, vocalist Brad Delp. Definitely '80s rock, the opening track, "Face the Music," could have worked on a latter day Starship album as well. On paper this looked like a huge act. The stadium veteran Delp fronting what became Peter Wolf's band, bassist Tim Archibald from New Man, California Raisins/Robert Ellis Orral drummer David Stefanelli, and keyboardist/songwriter Brian Maes. The latter three are also a self-contained unit known as Brian Maes & the Memory, and they brought a cohesion to RTZ which helped the Boston band refugees deliver the goods. "There's Another Side" is right up there with the opening track, a grade-A effort, only overshadowed by the beauty of the hit ballad "Until Your Love Comes Back Around." Live they would perform "Dreams," the song from the Barry Goudreau album that Tom Scholz allegedly felt sounded TOO much like his group, Boston. They were careful with Return to Zero to lean more towards Brad Delp's pop side, "All You've Got" a perfect example proving Goudreau and Delp a formidable writing team. Chris Lord-Alge's production is straightforward, no nonsense let's capture this excellent band exactly as they are. Goudreau's guitar bursts on "All You've Got" are short and sweet, and combine his masterful playing with a bit of the band Boston's magical sound. Delp recorded three solo songs in the summer of 1988 at Mission Control Studios which went from Beatles to Steely Dan in the influences that made up their essence. That sound would have benefited RTZ in a very big way. Sure, "This Is My Life" has some of that tension as well as some of those ideas, but like most of this disc, the band becomes overpowering, and the material, although exquisite and beautiful, tends to sound dated. They manufactured a sound and stuck with it, but had these artists thrown a few more elements into this "debut," if it can be called that, they might have been able to penetrate part of the timeless Steely Dan/Beatles marketplace, and not just the arena rock domain they were aiming for. Perhaps what is truly amazing is that the millions upon millions of fans rabid for a new Boston album didn't devour this package which, despite its flaws, has a lot to offer. Between the variety of musicians there was an overabundance of good material, and Giant/Reprise, by not fostering a half a dozen or more albums, did the world a great disservice. "Rain Down on Me" is hard hitting without the excess of a Mickey Thomas, or the bombast that Journey tended to overdo. The music is big, but controlled, and all involved are cognizant of the ever important pop hook. Yes, it is '80s rock in the '90s, but if you are in the mood for that style of music, Return to Zero has integrity and will hold your interest. — Joe Viglione.

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