It’s hard to believe that it’s two years to the day since Citizens of Boomtown was released. “Well, the question that remains to be asked is….” now we’ve been living with it for a while, how does the Boomtown Rats’ only album for 36 years measure up?
Our first taste of the Rat’s new material was Trash Glam Baby. Promoted as a proper single with a proper B side, the gradual build of the intro serves as a perfect “welcome back” to the band’s high energy, no-compromise sound. Only the Boomtown Rats would use the word “shit” front and centre in the opening line of their first single in over thirty years!!! With a really strong hook and Bob’s insight running through every word, The Boomtown Rats were back and meant business.
Sweet Thing was more of what I’d hoped for when I first listened to the album, instantly recognisable as the Boomtown Rats and as catchy as hell. Monster Monkeys was and will always be my favourite track from the album and probably one of the best things the Rats have ever done. I clearly remember driving to work on the day of release, smiling from ear to ear and not just enjoying this new album, I was loving it!
If I was smiling with pleasure as Monster Monkeys ended, I was grinning from ear to ear with She Said No. Proof if ever we needed it that Geldof is a shining wit – and that’s NOT a Spoonerism!! Bob’s observation is as strong as ever in this track and I still find myself laughing out loud when I hear the final line of the song “Argh, you fuckin' prick!”. Epic!
Then comes another surprise. Just Passing Through is a rare thing for a Boomtown Rats track – a ‘slow’ song. But just describing it as ‘slow’ doesn’t do it justice. This is a beautiful song about loss and grief and is painfully sad. I won’t comment on what the inspiration for this song might have been – it's a very personal song and I couldn’t possibly understand.
If Just Passing Through is asong filled with pain and sorrow, the second single Here’s a Postcard is the opposite – a celebration of summer in the metropolis. A positive song such as this is a rare thing from the Boomtown Rats and they should do it more often. The positivity of Here's a Postcard spills over into the next song K.I.S.S. with its rap section – what? wait?..... a Boomtown Rats song with a rap section? But you know, it works as well.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Yé Yé is clearly a group of seasoned rock musicians indulging themselves in dedications to the gods of Rock ‘n’ Roll. But the song runs deeper than that, perhaps picking up themes of loss and yearning from Just Passing Through. Maybe the message here is about the strength that we can draw from music when things get tough? The serious theme continues with Get a Grip - a throbbing club anthem that once again, wasn’t what I expected from this Boomtown Rats come-back album. As with almost everything this band ever did, there is a serious message in this song, which explores the faults in our modern drug-fuelled, connected, cyber-lifestyle. Last on the album is The Boomtown Rats. This song first appeared on the Ratlife EP (although are these subtly different mixes? I can’t be sure). Like Get a Grip, this is a throbbing club track which has become a mainstay when the band plays live.
Having got to know this album (I probably play it more often than any of the other Rats' records) I can’t help thinking that the track arrangement sets out the band’s story – starting off with songs that would have been at home on their albums from the 1970s and morphing into sounds that could only have been written in the twenty-first century. I love this album for so many reasons….it’s musicianship, its energy, its humour, its social comment…but most of all I just love having the Boomtown Rats back producing new stuff, touring and re-creating the excitement of my teens.