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The Fine Art Of Surfacing

The Boomtown Rats

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Album Review

When the Boomtown Rats topped the U.K. chart in October 1978, a lot of observers thought that was the last they'd hear of them — "Rat Trap," after all, zapped the period zeitgeist with such devastating accuracy that it would surely be impossible to follow it through. Bob Geldof wasn't listening. "I Don't Like Mondays," the band's follow-up single, not only returned the band to the top, it became one of the biggest-selling singles in British chart history, while the album that followed, November's The Fine Art of Surfacing, opened with two new songs that, if anything, were superior even to that. "Someone's Looking at You," a ruthlessly spot-on study of paranoia, and the death-of-a-socialite "Diamond Smiles" truly mark the peak of the Rats' career and, if the remainder of the album struggled to hit the same spot, what else could they do? Four bonus tracks (three B-sides and a live cut) do lessen the majesty of the album itself — you really do want to press "stop" once the album proper crashes to its close. Elsewhere, however, this most eclectic of all the band's albums stands today as, quite possibly, the last great LP of the 1970s — and the first classic of the '80s. From the moody "Wind Chill Factor" to the quirky "Having My Picture Taken" and on to the somber "Sleep," the band barely puts a foot wrong, while "I Don't Like Mondays" naturally remains insensitive to any kind of critical commentary.

Customer Reviews

Listen and Learn

Those of you who think Bob Geldof is that old guy who tries to save the world really need to listen to his music. Energetic, with a blend of rock and punk, Geldof was one of the intellectuals of his era. If you like Franz Ferdinand - listen to where they learned it !!!

I Agree with Him

Bhoy has it right. This is one of the best albums of the entire 80's decade, a splendid punk/new wave/rock meld and still sounds fresh in the 00's. I too get a bit annoyed at those who only know BG for his campaigning. He's a passionate man and that comes through all the more in the music. Listen to his solo work too, the "Great Song of Indifference" for example - it's almost Pogue-ish! My advice, don't read any more, just buy this.


The Boomtown Rats were an overlooked band when they were in their pomp, and this album is a total gem, in my opinion by far their best. The album is full of first class songs with thoughtful and well constructed lyrics, but is also full of the most refreshing humour and chippy irony. In one or two places things spill over into musical jokes (which I hate in any form, you may not) but excepting this there isn't a weak song. I don't know the extras (tracks 12 to 15) too well, but the rest is compulsory in my opinion.


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...
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