Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Boomtown Rats - The Boomtown Rats

These days I’d be surprised if the average person even remembered the Boomtown Rats and if they did, I would be even more surprised if they could name a song besides “I Don’t Like Mondays”. But before Geldof was knighted and before they hit the tops of the charts, they were actually a super fun poppy punk band with some great tunes!

The first time I heard the band was with this (vinyl) release that I got in the late 70’s. Opening with the energetic and egocentric “Lookin’ After No. 1”, the band creates a cool mix of rock, punk and new wave with loud guitars and a pajama-clad keyboardist!

Definitely one of their best songs ever is “Mary of the Fourth Form”, a number about a teen nympho tantalizing teachers and students alike. A powerful “E” chord progression crashes out of the speakers as Geldof tells a lascivious tale. This is a terrific rocker and a far too overlooked 70’s punk gem!

“As Close As You’ll Ever Be” showcases their early r’n’b-flavored roots while “Neon Heart” is a catchy, a-rhythmic new wave number. They move into an almost Springsteen-esque vibe complete with horns and a wild sax solo on “Joey’s on the Street Again” – considering the influence that “the Boss” had on Patti Smith and the Dictators, that isn’t that hard to imagine!

There is a Rat ballad in “I Can Make It If You Can” then they jump back into semi-quirky, new wave with “Never Bite the Hand That Feeds” – driven by guitars with plenty of keyboard doodles throughout. “She’s Gonna) Do You In” is a cool, punky rocker, not that dissimilar to something that the Fast would do (for those who get that reference!). It’s a cool, locomotive-beat, r’n’b tune with some fine harmonica work – once again, showing their influences! Definitely something that could fit in with someone like Dr. Feelgood.

The album finished off with “Kicks” – no relation to the Paul Revere and the Raiders tune. This is a pretty straight-ahead rocker and a nice closer.

The CD has a number of bonus tracks, including demos and a single version of “Mary of the Fourth Form” which has a much-changed arrangement. Also good, but it just doesn’t do what you expect it to do! The demos are all from 1975 and show their more r’n’b side, including a high-energy take on the great “Barefootin’”.

If you’re not afraid of a bit of new wave pop in your punk, then this is another classic late 70’s album!