The two new songs that lead off this stopgap package represent big breakthroughs for Tom Scholz, Boston’s mastermind. “Tell Me” is one of the few times he’s produced something that doesn’t seem completely derived from the group’s fabulously wrought 1976 debut; instead, it sounds like a mid-’80s Alan Parsons Project single, right down to the echoey drum sound. “Higher Power,” a would-be anthem for 12-steppers, opens with a quote from “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—obviously intended as a major statement, or maybe just a bad joke, since Boston fans accused Nirvana of ripping off “More Than a Feeling.” Any kind of joke at all would be welcome on Greatest Hits, which ends up making Boston seem a more essential album-rock platter than ever. (Five of its eight cuts are here, a full third of this record’s time, but no “Hitch a Ride” or “Let Me Take You Home Tonight.” Dang.) Worse, the numbing effect of most of the rest of these cuts reveals itself once and for all as the product of Scholz’s utter lack of vision beyond making sounds in and of themselves: He may make heartfelt liner-note pleas on behalf of PETA, vegetarianism, and other good liberal causes, but this engineering whiz is just another guy demonstrating flashy riffs in the back of a guitar shop, one he just happens to own. 1986’s “Amanda” is kind of pretty, and that’s about it. Given the utterly formulaic approach he continues to (barely) refine, Scholz could make an album every year instead of the mere three he’s cranked out since the days of his band’s debut. That is, if he didn’t waste time committing stuff like the useless “Star Spangled Banner/4th of July Reprise” to tape. That one’s no joke at all.—Rickey Wright