Friday, 2 November 2018

The Boomtown Rats - The Best Of The Boomtown Rats




As I have said in other Boomtown Rats reviews, they were one of the most derivative groups around. No-one quite knew what they were, though, even themselves, I am sure. They definitely caught firmly on to the punk coat-tails, although The Rats had been toting the punk attitude around Ireland since 1975. So they were ahead of that game in a way, but not much of their output was punk, apart from their frenetic, wonderful first hit single, "Lookin' After No. 1". Quite a lot of their material was more influenced by The New York Dolls and The Rolling Stones, and was often even a bit "glam rock"-ish in sound.

As I said, their influences were manifold - Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, Steve Harley, Lou Reed, Mink De Ville, The New York Dolls, Sparks, Alice Cooper, glam rock, Dr. Feelgood....the list goes on and on. So, they were a sort of jackdaw-styled group, collecting and expressing influences all over the place. Because of that, they never quite gained as much critical kudos as other groups.

What was never in doubt, however, was that they produced seriously good singles and they are all on here - the glam-rock-ish "Mary Of The 4th Form"; the quirky "Like Clockwork"; the lively and more punky, but commercial "She's So Modern" and the huge mini-masterpiece of new wave brilliance that was "Rat Trap". Then there is the completely unique "I Don't Like Mondays", with its big orchestration and superb Bob Geldof vocal; the white reggae of "Banana Republic"; the new wave rock of "The Elephant's Graveyard"; and two really great, underrated ones in the catchy "Someone's Looking At You" and the sad, evocative "Diamond Smiles".

Also included is the blatantly Springsteenesque, "Rat Trap" predecessor of "Joey's On The Street Again", the New York Dolls-ish, riffy "Neon Heart", another later extended classic in "Dave" and "When The Night Comes" which, after "Rat Trap" this time, tries to repeat the formula.

While having the identity problems I mentioned earlier, it still didn't stop The Rats being red hot for a few great years between 1978 and 1981. They were a great new wave chart act and I can testify, having seem them live in 1980, that they put on an excellent show. They could play too, something that was often overlooked.

B-

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