Third Stage Songs Ranked

Third Stage is the third studio album by the American rock band Boston, released on September 23, 1986 on MCA Records. It was recorded at musician Tom Scholz’s Hideaway Studio over a long, strained six-year period “between floods and power failures”. Scholz and Brad Delp, the group’s vocalist, were the only individuals who remained in the group from its original line-up. In terms of lyrics, the release invokes the themes of aging and working through differing ‘stages’ in one’s life. Lead single “Amanda”, the album’s first track, became a number one hit and is one of the group’s best-known songs. The album itself was eventually certified 4x platinum by the RIAA. Here are all of the Third Stage songs ranked.

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10. A New World

This is a very short instrumental, much like an intermission (as I said before). It’s a little over thirty seconds in length and serves much the same purpose as “Five Per Cent For Nothing” on Yes’s ‘Fragile’ (1972) release (for more information, see my review of this fine album). “A New World” segues into the next track.”

9. My Destination

“This is perhaps my favorite song on the entire album. I really like the new lyrics applied to a transposed version of the “Amanda” theme. The track begins softly, there is an instrumental bridge, and then the music really takes off. The climax always gives me chills, and no matter how many times I tell myself there’s no way in hell I will ever be able to hit that insanely high note (it’s the E above tuning A-440), I still sing along (when nobody else is around, that is.”

Boston – Third Stage (1986, Electrosound Pressing, Gatefold, Vinyl) -  Discogs

8. The Launch A) Countdown B) Ignition C) Third Stage Separation

“This is a short instrumental designed to be the sonic representation of a launching spacecraft–one that is organ-fueled, according to the liner notes. There is an incredible sense of presence in this track. There is a calm before the plunge, which begins all at once with some thunderous chords. A Conn Theater organ is used to monumental effect. And this is where that pitch bender I mentioned is used. This track segues into the next cut with a powerful pitch sweep.”

See more: Boston Albums Ranked Worst to Best

7. To Be a Man

“This is the first of the darker songs. It seems as though Brad is singing about introspective, relating all the things a man should be–and these are not the typical “masculine” things popular culture pounds into our heads, either. Society should listen to Tom Scholz on this one; he has some good thoughts on the matter. Anyway, this song is very beautiful melodically. The “Rockman violins” (Rockman amplifier-processed guitar) make their first appearance at the beginning of this track.”

Top 10 Boston Songs

6. I Think I Like It

“This one really doesn’t belong here. It’s a cover of a John English rocker from a decade and a half before Tom rewrote it. It’s not a bad song overall (apparently it’s radically revamped from the original, and since it sounds like anything else on the album, I believe it), but I have a general dislike for covers. Plus, it can get a little cheesy at times. But not so bad that I don’t listen to it when it passes by.”

5. Cool the Engines

“This is the closest this album comes to the obligatory “Smokin'”/”Party” inclusions from the first two albums, in respective order. “Cool” is a straight-up rocker that brims with intensity and drive. Delps vocals take on an almost frantic, forced quality, which compliments the song very nicely. This segues into the fifth and final track in the connected sequence.”

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See more: Boston Songs Ranked

4. We’re Ready

“This one grew on me. At first I thought it was all right, but there is something about this song–perhaps the more melodic nature, or the strange yet pleasant harmonizing and lyrics–that eventually captivated me. The beginning is soft, with a repeated tap on the closed high-hat. Brad Delp’s voice, beautiful as ever, really shines on this track. Once the track builds in intensity, it’s quite clear that this is a rock song. Througout the course of the song, the intensity ebbs and flows. This song segues into the third track.”

3. Can’tcha Say (You Believe in Me) / Still in Love

“This song has two distinct parts, with the first part refraining at the end of the song. The song begins with raw vocal harmonies sung by Maestro Delp. It’s a medium-tempo ballad for a while, then things slow down considerably when Brad pours out his heart in the “Still In Love” section, singing the line “Ooo, still in love with you” twice. Then, as promised, the original theme picks up and the song ends. Overall, it’s a darker song, despite the upbeat cast that pervades the ballad portion.”

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2. Hollyann

“So, the narrator finally gets his beloved Hollyann. So what happens to poor Amanda? We never find out. This song always left a sour taste in my mouth, only because its lyrics remind of the pretentious preaching Tom Scholz does in the liner notes, along with his endorsement for PETA. I have no problem with Tom’s beliefs, but I would rather he not use a Boston album as cheap advertisement for them.”

1. Amanda

“Ah, the familar track that made me decide to buy the album. The melody is catchy, the words are pretty straightforward (without being too sappy, like some love songs), and the emotional output is practically off the scale. And of course you all know why I like this song so much. On a broader note, the guitars sound otherworldly on this entire album, and the climax of “Amanda” is a precursor to the sound of this album. I like the 12-string strumming at the beginning; it sort of fits the album graphic for some strange reason.”