The Boomtown Rats A Tonic For The Troops
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The Boomtown Rats, came out of Ireland at the height of the punk and ‘new wave’ revolution of the late 1970’s and were often associated with that movement. In truth they were a little too polished and produced to fit comfortably in that Genre. The album spawned a number of huge hits including Rat Trap, Like Clockwork and She’s so modern. The album was a huge hit and for two years in 1978 & 1979 The Rats were the biggest selling band in the UK. The album was a collection of contradictions rolled up in glitzy package. The tunes lurched from punk to mainstream pop and in the spoken parts of Rat trap there was even an element of rap and hip-hop. Though melodic and tuneful Geldof’s grim and melodramatic reflections of urban life and poverty were reminiscent of early Springsteen. Geldof’s delivery is full of conviction and complex characterisation, his reflections of life in urban high rise blocks are not just an observation of urban life they are a call to action, a plea to rise up and break out of the ‘Rat trap’. The contradictions continue in ‘Me and Howard Hughes’ & in “I never loved Eva Braun”. In the former the bright happy tune hides the bleakness of the lyrics whilst In Eva Braun the teenage cooing of the line “Is she really going out with Adolf” disguises the content of the lyrics with its reflections on Hitlers relationship with Eva Braun. The album also touches on suicide, on teenage fantasies and schoolgirl crushes. As a piece the album holds together really well, the band are tight and skilful the arrangements are often complex and multi layered the album is dynamic, fun and durable. Above all it has stood the test of time.