1975: Boomtown Rats

 Jan, 25 - 2014   no comments   1970s Music

The Boomtown Rats

Cover of The Boomtown Rats

The Boomtown Rats are an Irish New Wave band that had a series of Irish and UK hits between 1977 and 1985. The group is led by vocalist Bob Geldof. The other members of the original line-up were Garry Roberts (lead guitar), Johnnie Fingers (keyboard), Pete Briquette (bass), Gerry Cott (guitar) and Simon Crowe (drums). The Boomtown Rats broke-up in 1986, but reformed in 2013, without Johnnie Fingers or Gerry Cott.

All six members originate from Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. Having been booked for their first gig under the name “The Nightlife Thugs,” the group agreed on the name change, when Garry Roberts threatened to resign if they were called that, to the “Boomtown Rats” after a gang of children that Geldof had read about in Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory . They became a notable band, but one whose accomplishments were overshadowed by the charity work of frontman Bob Geldof, a former journalist with the NME magazine.

The Boomtown Rats (album)

The Boomtown Rats (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The group moved to London in October 1976, and became associated with the punk rock movement. Signing a recording contract with Ensign Records, they released their debut single, “Lookin’ After No. 1“, in August 1977. It was the first of nine straight singles to make the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart. Their debut album, The Boomtown Rats, was released in September 1977, on Ensign in the UK and on Mercury Records in the United States, and featured another single, “Mary of the 4th Form“. Music journalist Martin C. Strong commented, “Geldof’s moody charisma helped to give the band a distinct identity”.

The second album, A Tonic for the Troops, appeared in June 1978 in the UK. It featured three hit singles, “Like Clockwork”, “She’s So Modern” and “Rat Trap“. A Tonic for the Troops was released in the U.S. on Columbia in February 1979, with two tracks from The Boomtown Rats substituted for tracks on the UK version. Mutt Lange produced “Rat Trap“, which became the first rock song by an Irish band to reach No. 1 in the UK, and the first of any description by an Irish band to top the official chart used by the BBC. (The Bachelors had topped the Record Retailer chart in 1964 with “Diane“, but only reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart). In addition, “Rat Trap” was also the first new wave song to claim the number one spot.

In 1979, “I Don’t Like Mondays“, was released. This was written in response to a school shooting in California carried out by Brenda Ann Spencer, and also reached No. 1 in the UK. It was a worldwide hit, with the exception being the United States. Fears of lawsuits and charges of bad taste allegedly kept radio stations there from playing the record. The supposed boycott was front page news in Variety Magazine, (which liked to create false controversies for sales purposes), the only time the Boomtown Rats earned such prominent coverage. However, it actually got significant airplay throughout the 80’s by U.S. stations with low musical standards. It was included in The Fine Art of Surfacing, the band’s third album, and subsequently became the band’s only U.S. Billboard Hot 100 entry. The album also contained “Diamond Smiles” and their next Top 10 hit in the UK, “Someone’s Looking at You“. Geldof and Fingers became the visual and musical focus of the group: Geldof with his articulate, caustic wit – which made him the delight of television talk show presenters and the bitter enemy of music journalists – and Fingers with the striped pajamas he wore onstage.

In 1980 “Banana Republic” was released, which was their last Top 10 hit, and in the following year the Boomtown Rats’ next studio album Mondo Bongo was issued. “Banana Republic” savaged their native Ireland, the “septic isle screaming in the suffering sea”.

  • Pop/Rock
  • New Wave
  • Punk
  • Punk/New Wave
  • Alternative/Indie Rock
  • British Punk
  • College Rock
  • Dún Laoghaire, Ireland
  • 1980
  • 1975–1986
  • 2013–present
The Fine Art of Surfacing

The Fine Art of Surfacing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The Boomtown Rats (1977)
  • A Tonic for the Troops (1978)
  • The Fine Art of Surfacing (1979)
  • Mondo Bongo (1980)
  • V Deep (1982)
  • In the Long Grass (1984)
  • “Lookin’ After No. 1” (1977)
  • “Mary of the 4th Form” (1977)
  • “She’s So Modern” (1978)
  • “Like Clockwork” (1978)
  • “Rat Trap” (1978)
  • “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)
  • “Diamond Smiles” (1979)
  • “Someone’s Looking at You” (1980)
  • “Banana Republic” (1980)
  • “The Elephant’s Graveyard (Guilty)” (1981)
  • “House on Fire” (1982)
  • “I Don’t Like Mondays” (CD single re-issue) (1994)

The Boomtown Rats. I Don’t Like Mondays

The Boomtown Rats Someone’s Looking At You

Boomtown Rats – Diamond Smiles

Boomtown Rats – “Someone’s Looking At You” 1979

  • Mulligan
  • Ensign
  • Mercury
  • Band Aid
  • Live Aid
  • Live 8
  1. http://www.boomtownrats.co.uk/
  2. http://www.discogs.com/artist/180708-Boomtown-Rats-The
  3. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-boomtown-rats-mn0000520033/biography
  4. http://www.last.fm/music/The+Boomtown+Rats

Related articles

Leave a Reply