Review: Jack Foley
TALK about cashing in! Universal Music is to release this new
Best of The Boomtown Rats compilation on the same day as each
of the six original studio albums from the band go on sale on
CD for the first time.
What's more, there's even a DVD retrospective on the band, entitled
Someone's Looking At You: The Boomtown Rats on Film 1976-1986.
Each album has, of course, been digitally remastered and comes
with a stack of rare or previously unreleased bonus tracks, demos,
B-sides and live cuts - just to ensure that punters feel they
are getting value-for-money.
So why the best of? Well, I guess, it's for those among you who
rate the odd Boomtown Rats' single, but can't be bothered to fork
out for a whole album.
Certainly, it's all here, from the anthemic I Don't Like
Mondays to the slightly more obscure The Elephants Graveyward.
Prior to becoming known as one of the principal organisers of
Live Aid (alongside
Midge Ure), Bob Geldof was best-known for being lead singer of
The Boomtown Rats - one of the most critically-acclaimed British
bands of the 70s.
Between 1977 and 1984, The Rats scored 14 hit singles in the
UK charts, including two number ones, and enjoyed five chart albums.
Their songs were credited with transcending their generation
and frequently tackled difficult social and political issues in
an unflinching manner - none more so than I Don't Like Mondays
(from The Fine Art of Surfacing), which told the true
story of a 13-year-old girl who shot 11 people without showing
It remains the definitive Boomtown Rats track and a tremendously
moving record, singularly exemplifying Geldof's gift for songwriting.
Other emotive tracks include the blackly comic (I Never Loved)
Eva Braun, a supposed 'ode' from Hitler to his mistress and
wife, and the hard-rockin' Neon Heart, from the debut
album, which features the band at its rawest.
Needless to say, a lot of the material remains rooted in the
sound of its day and occasionally sounds dated, but there's no
denying that even for modern music buffs there's plenty to admire
given that the Rats' sound has helped to inspire some of today's
best post-punk bands.
It's little wonder, then, that they are to receive The Outstanding
Contribution to Music Award at The Brits25.
In political punk rock terms, the Rats have few rivals, while
their sound is certain to continue to appeal to those just getting
into that new post-punk scene.
The Best of provides a telling insight into the band,
which might just lead the more curious to investigate what the
re-issued albums have to offer.