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The Boomtown Rats

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Album Review

The Boomtown Rats arrived in punk-drunk Britain in early 1977, self-aggrandizing Dubliners with a serious taste for classic rock, but dripping such vehemently snot-nosed arrogance that it was hard to hold that against them. Certainly their first major London show, opening for the newly ascendant Tom Petty, gave the passive onlooker plenty to think about — graffiti that insisted "Rats Eat Heartbreakers" appeared all across town and, on-stage, they did. "Lookin' After No. 1," the band's self-affirmingly anthemic debut single, brought them their first hit single; by the time The Boomtown Rats reached the stores later that year, the schoolgirl fantasy "Mary of the 4th Form" was already set to confirm the Boomtown Rats' advance. It was the album that astonished, however, as the expected punk anthems were accompanied by a clutch of numbers that drew deeply from the well of earlier inspiration. The Rolling Stones ("I Can Make It if You Can") and Thin Lizzy/Bruce Springsteen ("Joey's on the Street Again") shone as brightly as any more contemporary influence, while Mutt Lange's production gave the entire show a harsh, brittle quality that saw The Boomtown Rats sparkle as brightly as any of the era's more "traditional" punk LPs. That sparkle remains apparent across the album's 2005 remaster; indeed, although several of the songs do sound slightly dated, the production still lifts them out of the punk milieu, to reveal a classic rock updating that is, frankly, astonishing. This is even more apparent across the bonus tracks; though the sound quality is less than scintillating, four demos and a live "Barefootin'," all dating from 1975, capture both the brilliance and the braggadocio that would become the Boomtown Rats' stock in trade.


Formed: 1975 in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ire

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The Boomtown Rats were an Irish rock band that scored a series of British hits between 1977 and 1980, and were led by singer Bob Geldof, who organized the Ethiopian relief efforts Band Aid and Live Aid. The Rats were formed in Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin, Ireland, in 1975 by Geldof (born Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof, October 5, 1954, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland), a former journalist; Johnnie Fingers (keyboards); Gerry Cott (guitar); Garry Roberts (guitar); Pete Briquette (bass); and Simon Crowe (drums)....
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