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Rock - Released March 13, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Chock-full of new wave charisma and tamed by Bob Geldof's upfront wit, The Fine Art of Surfacing is novel in both its lyrical flair and modern pounce. Made famous by the colorful history of "I Don't Like Mondays," a true story about a 16-year-old girl who shot 11 people without showing any remorse, The Fine Art of Surfacing switches gears from this song's well-crafted harshness to the hectic pace of tracks such as "Nice N' Neat" and "Sleep," among others. "Diamond Smiles" jaunts along on a hiccup-like rhythm, while "Keep It Up" is downright frantic. "Someone's Looking at You" basks in a certain type of smug paranoia, and songs like "Having My Picture Taken" and "Nothing Happened Today" are beautifully lit up by Geldof's wide-eyed dramatics and explicit vocal swings. Sharing the same sort of stylishness as A Tonic for the Troops, The Fine Art of Surfacing bursts with florid pop genius, which in turn kept the Boomtown Rats from sounding like other new wave bands that existed at the time. © Mike DeGagne /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin EMI

To coincide with their 2013 reunion, Irish new wave legends the Boomtown Rats offered up their fifth greatest-hits collection in Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits. The usual suspects like "Rat Trap," "She's So Modern," and "I Don't Like Mondays" are all present, sounding nice and punchy with their updated Abbey Road remasters. While their 2003 anthology The Best of the Boomtown Rats was a bit more thorough, the draw for fans here is the addition of two brand new tracks penned by bandleader Bob Geldof. Their first new material in decades, opening cut "The Boomtown Rats" is a strange electronic club banger that feels immediately out of place, though the other new addition, "Back to Boomtown," holds up quite nicely and is delivered with the kind of ragged moxie the band was known for in their heyday. While the two new cuts might not be reason enough to add yet another reshuffled Rats compilation to your collection, Back to Boomtown still serves as a solid introduction to the band. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 10, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Anyone who heard the Boomtown Rats' debut single, "Lookin' After No. 1," with its rapid drum beat, slashing guitars, and aggressive singing about impatience with the dole queue, would think of the group as a particularly tight, standard punk rock band on the London scene in 1977. The Rats' debut album also featured the leering "Mary of the Fourth Form," their second single, but the rest of the album revealed more traditional rock influences. "Joey's on the Street Again" sounded like the sort of street opera Bruce Springsteen was aiming for on The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. "I Can Make It If You Can" was the sort of ballad the Rolling Stones favored in the mid-'70s. Overall, there were enough power chords and snotty sentiments to justify the punk tag, but it was already clear that the Rats aspired to the mainstream. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

On their fourth album, the Boomtown Rats submitted to ambitiousness, with singer Bob Geldof attempting to assume the mantle of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, while the band tried to keep up with musical fashions in Britain. The combination led to such oddities as a ska-beat rewrite of the Stones' "Under My Thumb" and a couple of side-opening mambos. The band was at its best when it returned to the pop music that was its core on such songs as the Buddy Holly-ish "Don't Talk to Me" and especially the danceable "Up All Night," but they were buried on the second side of an uneven collection that made the Rats' sense of direction seem uncertain. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

On their fifth album and reduced to a quintet, the Boomtown Rats moved closer to Caribbean rhythms, employing a percussionist and upping the bass guitar in the mix. They even had Dennis Bovell do a dub mix of "House on Fire" and included it at the end of the album. Meanwhile, Bob Geldof's lyrics indicated an increasingly embattled sensibility; he noted in a song called "The Bitter End" that "It isn't too far." Unfortunately, nothing here matched the catchy, daring work on the Rats' first three albums, and even in England their star was beginning to fade. In America, Columbia Records at first declined to release the album, opting for a four-track EP, then allowed it to escape in September 1982, when it failed to chart. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Irish new wave heroes the Boomtown Rats get the box set treatment in the form of Universal Music's Classic Album Selection series. This set includes all six of the group's studio albums: The Boomtown Rats (1977), A Tonic for the Troops (1978), The Fine Art of Surfacing (1979), Mondo Bongo (1981), V Deep (1982), and In the Long Grass (1985). Although they emerged from the late-'70s London punk scene, the Rats were a stylistically diverse band offering a mix of new wave, pub rock, classic rock, and other styles, all played with a punk attitude. They scored several British hits early in their career with the Springsteen-esque "Rat Trap" and the worldwide smash "I Don't Like Mondays." While you won't find in-depth B-sides or rarities here, this set is an affordable and compact way to get the band's entire catalog of albums. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 13, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Alternatif et Indé - Released February 24, 2014 | Concert Live Ltd

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Island Def Jam

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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | UMOD (Universal Music On Demand)

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Rock - Released January 10, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

By the time In the Long Grass was released, Bob Geldof's sights were set on more important issues, like the "Do They Know It's Christmas" project and the monumental Live Aid concert that came to fruition in 1985. All of the intensity and raw ardor that he and the rest of the band established on past albums is nowhere to be found on In the Long Grass, with "Drag Me Down" peaking at a measly number 50 on the U.K. charts, the album's best effort. Geldof's material comes off like hurried-up poetry haphazardly put to music, and without the flamboyancy of Johnny Fingers' piano playing, the songs seem empty and uninspiring. "Tonight" teases with a glimmer of hope because of its lyrical appeal, but tracks such as "Up & Down" and "Hard Times" bring the band down to a level of averageness that is unfamiliar, especially when compared to the genius of A Tonic for the Troops or the eccentricities of The Fine Art of Surfacing. Although the Boomtown Rats began to show signs that they were losing their flair on the V Deep album, it is much easier to forgive the shortcomings of In the Long Grass when looking back at Geldof's Herculean attempts at curbing world hunger that soon followed. © Mike DeGagne /TiVo